Friday, September 20, 2013

Carrying a plaid, metal lunchbox to school in the mid-'50s

Photo credit: Tamara Ricci, used with permission

The old, red brick, three-story Divine Redeemer School building at 300 Merchant Street, now Karnavas Vending, didn't have a cafeteria. It didn't have much of anything except six classrooms, a few tiny, single-toilet bathrooms, and some cloakrooms. Oh, and a lobby area where we waited for the bus after school. So we took our lunches to eat at our desks.

In early elementary years, I carried my lunch in a red plaid, metal Aladdin lunchbox that looked like the one above.

That lunchbox was a disappointment, although I don't recall ever complaining about it to my mother after she bought it for me, because what would have been the point of complaining? My mom wasn't going to take it back and get me the more trendy lunchbox I would rather have had with that cute Tweety bird or at least Mickey Mouse on the side. (While those weren't my favorite TV characters in my early elementary years, even then I recognized that carrying a Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox would greatly increase my dorkiness quotient in the opinion of my classmates.)

As a practical matter, the plaid lunchbox made sense, as at least it was equally non-trendy--and not Hopalong-grade dorky--for my entire elementary school career.

The lunchbox came with a matching plaid, glass-lined thermos. The thermos was held securely in place, theoretically at least, by a one-piece, u-shaped, metal wire clip. Yet, I don't know how many times I brought home a thermos that made that clinking-tinkling sound which identified a thermos with broken glass inside. I have no idea how I broke them. It wasn't as if I'd used my lunchbox as a weapon, although supposedly some schools banned metal lunchboxes for that reason.

Inside the lid were safety tips, written as a rhyme, and accompanied by illustrations.

Photo credit: Tamara Ricci, used with permission
The text reads:

"SAFETY FIRST" is an important rule

At home, at play, and in your school.
The school patrol is on guard each day,
And they know the rules you should obey.
So watch for cars with each step you take,
And cross at the corners for safety's sake.
There's really no need to play in the street,
Since playgrounds are better places to meet.
Learn all the rules of the games you play,
They'll be safer if done in the proper way.
Remember to walk, not run, in the halls,
Keeping to the right will save you from falls.
When lunch is over, clear the trash away,
And go on to have fun the "Safety Way"!

Having those safety tips inside the lid made sense, because didn't all kids read the inside lid of their lunchboxes? And then think, "Oh, those safety rules, which I never heard before, must be really important seeing that they are inside the lid of my lunchbox, so I'll follow them!"

Obviously, kids' minds must have worked so much more simply in the mid-'50s.

The lunchbox photos came from Tamara Ricci's Etsy store, BeholdAllThingsNew.

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