Day Sixteen: The Lunch Box Series – Walking home and Trouble

It is March and Lent which has made me think about spring when I was young.

What I remember from long ago when I was in 6th grade is that I was part of the school patrol. I was very proud of this fact and loved wearing the patrol belt with the badge on images-1.jpgit. I loved standing on the corner helping little ones cross the street. I thought at the time we were the cool kids.

I often had the noon duty which was to help the kindergarten children on their way home. In those days there were no buses and only 1/2 day kindergarten. I recall only one of those days and it was the one that led to a bit of trouble.

I was out on patrol with two of my friend. We did our job well, put our flags and belts away and headed to the lunch room/gym to pick up lunch or milk. Due to patrol duty we came in late and were walking past all the other students who were eating and chatting. We also were chatting as we came in. My friends were being a bit silly and giving gentle pushes to each other. I was hungry and remember walking around them to get my milk and go off to eat.

The next thing I know we are being called back to the door by the Principal. He was mad and I was unsure why. He informed us that our rough housing was a bad example. I tried to say I was only walking around them but he insisted I was a part of the whole. He was kicking us out of lunch for the rest of the week.  We would need to go home for lunch each day and come back for afternoon classes. I was shocked and embarrassed.

Also I was a bit frighten since I knew no one would be home each noon hour. I was not sure how my working Mother was going to take this. To make a long story short – she was not happy but we worked out a plan. She would leave the back door unlocked for the day and I would come home make lunch and return to school. It was three days – we could work it out. Whew!

Then came Friday – the last day to eat at home. I hurry out of school and headed home since I had the furthest to walk. I reached the back door to discover it was locked. I had no key, where was no hidden key in the area and there I stood with no lunch.

Here is where neighbors are god sends. Mrs. Tubbs, the neighbor lady saw me standing there upset – my guess is crying although that I don’t remember. She called me over and I explained the situation. Once again feeling awful for my miss behavior and having to share it with the neighbors was terrible. I was not a good example for our family.

Mrs. Tubbs did not seem to mind. She did inform me she had not gone to get groceries yet and it was Friday and Lent (a day of no meat for her Catholic family). She really only had hot dogs, potato chips, a pepsi and  oreo cookies. Did I mind having that for lunch?

images.jpgMy eyes were wide since our house seldom had pepsi or oreo’s and the added fun of having hot dogs for lunch! What a treat! I gladly sat down to lunch – enjoying every bit of the wonderful kid meal. I thanked her over and over again and hurry back to

Happy now to have had what I thought was a glorious lunch, and a spring walk back to school. This made up for all the bad feelings I had about the principal and school discipline.

Now my next thought was do I tell me Mother what fun I had at lunch?

(I must admit I think I keep it quiet – I told her I eat next door but just didn’t fill her in on the type of lunch I had.)


I think about student now and have to laugh, feel sad and wonder. No one would be sent home for a bit of laughter and friendly pushing. Plus our students biggest concern right now is violence and the threat of guns.  The world has changed for sure!





About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in behavior, Reflection and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Day Sixteen: The Lunch Box Series – Walking home and Trouble

  1. Shawn says:

    Your post brought back memories that I have forgotten. I, too, was a patrol guard for my elementary school. It really is crazy that we were given such freedom and responsibility with that job. Yes, schools have changed – now school doors are always locked and I cannot even think of a time when a kid walked home to eat lunch (I do not even think that is allowed now). Loved reading your post.

  2. Joann,

    I think the universe knew that you were being punished for no fault of your own. The end of the punishment was actually a sweet reward for you.

    You insoire me to write my slice fir the today, Come & let me know what you think of it.

    Looking forward to read more from you.


  3. Rita Kenefic says:

    I love your description, Joanne, and clearly remember the Safety Patrol. Unfortunately, only the BOYS were allowed to be on it in my school. Yes, it was undoubtedly a gentle, simpler time. Hoping the pendulum swings back and we can enjoy the progress that’s been made but not forego simplicity, kindness and respect.

  4. Thanks for this slice! We did not have safety patrol at our school; however, we did observe no meat on Fridays during Lent! I thought you were going to write about only having meat available to eat from the neighbor and that it would interfere with the no meat on Friday! I love your lighthearted ending – you are keeping me guessing as the reader about whether or not your mom was filled in on the special lunch.

  5. arjeha says:

    I haven’t thought about those safety patrol belts and badges in many years. What a thoughtful neighbor you had. This is a great memory. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Alice Nine says:

    Oh, I remember wearing that safety patrol belt. Clearly a different era: getting a “suspension from lunchroom” for horsing around like kids, a principal sending you home without verifying if a responsible person would be there, leaving a back door unlocked all morning with no one home, a neighbor at home in the middle of the day. I enjoyed this episode from your “Lunch Box Series.” Are there more?

  7. Trina Haase says:

    What a fun story! I was a safety patrol guard too, but we didn’t get those awesome belts! I love that your neighbor invited you over for lunch. Would that ever happen now?

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