Thursday, June 11, 2009

Food memories

I went down to lunch today, and was presented with this:

Now this may look innocent, but it brought back disturbing memories of my childhood. Fried chicken, yummy; Mac-n-cheese, yummy; collard greens, nooooooooo!

While I grew up mostly in the south, my mother is English. So I got to the 2nd grade before being presented with collard greens as a menu item. My father was in the Air Force, and we ended up in NC where I went to a small town elementary school.

Now remember, this was back in the 60's, when there was still paddling in schools. Teachers held the power of God over students and we obeyed them without question. Practically every lunch at that school included greens. They were cheap and easy to serve, but for someone whose only experience with slimy green things was walking through cow pastures, it wasn't appealing.

My teacher had a rule, you eat everything on your plate. Period. No arguing. So I would barter my desert to whomever would eat my greens for me. No amount of threats or cajoling would convince me to eat that. It was stressful, to say the least. We had to wait until she wasn't around, and I had to be sitting near an agreeable fellow student. A couple of times I had been caught with greens left on my plate, and had been paddled. It didn't work, I still wasn't going to eat them. I wasn't normally disobedient, or defiant, but I refused to be browbeaten.

Finally my teacher caught me trading desert for greens consumption, and she was furious. After a brief bout of shouting, she told me I would sit there, until I ate the greens. The rest of my class went back to the room, and I sat there. Bells rang for recess, and I sat there. The final bell rang, other students went and got on buses, and still I sat there. No one ever came back in the cafeteria to check on me. Everyone left and the school was locked up.

Hours later, I was sitting there quietly crying when the police and my mother arrived. When I wasn't on the bus, my mother had checked the entire route, all my cousins homes, and finally called the chief of police and got the school unlocked.

I wasn't there when my mother spoke to the school board about the teacher (this wan't the first incident with her) but my class had a new teacher the next week.

I still won't eat greens. (shudder)

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