MOM’S LUNCH BUCKET OF LOVE is one of the most precious stories our Mother shared with me. I am sure she told my sister but I am recalling from the day she told me this moving story. I was sharing it with a close friend of mine and she suggested I write the blog so here goes:
My mother, Beatrice Holt, as child born in 1924 was affected by the depression and was one of 10 children. Poor might be an understatement but they were brought up to not play the victim but accept life as it came and to be grateful for each and every blessing. I am not sure how many will remember that lunch boxes were really lunch pails. Whatever a child brought for their lunch was placed inside a cloth in the pail. Some had lids; some didn’t. My mother’s lunch was a sweet potato which was filling but she was embarrassed that it was a sign of how poor they were so she shied away from the other children to eat alone to avoid anybody saying is that all you have to eat. She would sit on an old railroad tie and eat her lunch. She didn’t complain but felt alone. One of her classmates, which I will not call her name since I don’t have her permission, came from a wealthy, very well known family. She was an only child and from her clothes and her shoes, it was obvious she would bring a good lunch. I can still see Momma’s eyes when she told me the story of the day when this particular girl walked over to her where she was sitting with her lunch pail. Momma said, “Oh no, not her, she will tell everyone I only have a sweet potato.” There was nowhere to go, and the girl asked Momma “Can I sit down and have lunch with you?” Momma’s biggest fear was staring her in her face. “Yes,” came out of her mouth even though she wanted to say “No” but that would have been unkind.
The wealthy girl sat down on the tie beside Momma and it was too close to hide her bucket. The young girl brought out two fried chicken legs and she felt sweat developing as Momma knew she was going to be embarrassed. “Would you like one of these?” the girl asked. “Momma always puts too much food in here and I can’t eat it all. We can share our lunches.” Momma was caught. She had to show her sweet potato and to her surprise, the girl seemed excited. “I love sweet potatoes.” They talked, laughed and Momma enjoyed having a good lunch. This became a great friendship and each day they ate together.
This is a wonderful story but it didn’t end there. As years went by the girls went their separate ways and one day when my Mother was getting on in age and was sitting in Holt’s Bakery, family owned restaurant, she spotted this lady with some friends come in. They waved to each other and the lady sat down with her friends. Momma thought when I get finished eating, I will go over and thank her for always sharing her lunch with me. Before she could get up, the lady came over and sat down with Mother. After Momma explained she planned on going over and thanking her for all of the shared lunches which she never forgot her kindness, here is the response which is the focus of this touching story. “Beatrice, I have come to thank you. I didn’t have friends in school since it seemed everyone resented that we were not suffering and no one would talk to me. I didn’t have brothers and sisters. I was lonely and you were the only one that was kind to me and we became friends. I thank you for always treating me kind. I didn’t feel lonely anymore.”
Sometimes, we never know we are giving others what they need at the same time we are receiving from their friendship. Thank you Momma and to your friend for this heartwarming story which touches my heart every time I share it. I found a little excerpt from an article called A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LUNCH BOX.
A Brief History of the Lunch Box
Before the Age of Steel
According to The Whole Pop Magazine, before the lunch box was the lunch pail (and before the lunch pail there were oiled goatskins, but let’s not go THAT far back). The lunch pail wasn’t really a pail; it was a latching, heavy-duty metal thing made from a toolbox-grade metal that would protect the working man’s noontime meal from anything less powerful than a small bomb.
At the time, a lunch pail wasn’t chic–on the contrary, it was a sign you were far enough down the pay scale that you didn’t have time or money for a decent hot noontime meal. Still, children in the 1880s created their own school “lunch pails” out of the colorful tin boxes that once housed biscuits, cookies and tobacco.
From there, it was a small step to a box specifically made for that purpose, and in 1902 the first true kids’ lunch box came out. No, it didn’t feature turn-of-the-century pop culture idols like P. T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill or Sousa’s Band–it was shaped like a picnic basket with pictures of playing children lithographed on its side.
My closing thought is give of yourself, share your good fortune, talents, gifts, and testimony with others. You may receive additional blessings from each and every kind act you do. I include myself in this message. Have a wonderful day and until we read again…Arline Miller