Posted by: patwogan | January 28, 2009

More About Peebler School Days

At the time I went to Peebler, I never thought about schools needing money to operate.  I guess I just figured they were there and that was it.  Of course, I know now that money is very important to education.  I do know( because my father was on the school board) that the teacher’s salary was $35.00 a month.  That included building the fire in the furnace, fixing soup for hot lunch on cold days, cleaning the building, shoveling the snow off the steps when necessary, creating mimeograph copies for worksheets (using gelatin in a 9×13 pan), oh, yes, and teaching all subjects to all eight grades.  And I imagine there were those who thought she was overpaid.

The reason I mention money is that we did have “school carnivals”.  Actually, we had box suppers.  Those were done in the fall and were the highlight of the communities’ activities.  They were open to all comers.  The way it worked was that the women/girls would fill a box with two suppers.  They would then decorate the box attractively with crepe paper, ribbon, and sometimes beads.  Anyway, it was a matter of pride as to whose box was the prettiest.  It actually had nothing to do with the prettiness of the decorator, but was an outward clue of the tastiness of the supper contained in the box….however, sometimes beauty was only skin deep…and the best decorator wasn’t always the best cook.

The owner of the box was supposed to be secret, however, often a girl would leak the secret to her boyfriend which box was hers.  If a wife “leaked” the secret to her husband and he didn’t outbid all others to eat with her, there would sometimes be domestic difficulty as a result.  In other words, he would be in big trouble.

An auctioneer would hold the boxes up and the bidding on the individual boxes would begin.  In some cases, it would be quite spirited and of course, the young man who knew which box belonged to his girlfriend would usually have to bid up some old codger who was bidding against him just to run the price up.  Sometimes a man would bid on more than one box and therefore eat two suppers with two women.  This sometimes happened when a father bid both on his young daughter’s box and that of his wife.  Sometimes a father would bid high on his daughter’s box because he did not approve of the young man who might be bidding against him.  Usually the father had more assets than the boy and so would win the bidding even though his daughter would have much preferred to eat with the young man. 

The contents of the box were actually less important than the owner of the box, however, again it was a matter of pride to the young lady that her box be filled with special treats and food that would show off her cooking ability.   Pie was often the dessert of choice in a box or a special cake of some kind.  The Box Suppers I participated in at Peebler took place during the war, but since this was a farming community where people raised the majority of their own food, shortages did not seem to the menu.

As the bidding started, there was always a feeling of anticipation especially on the part of the young people in attendance.  Would that “special someone” bid on the box that the girl brought?  Would the box a boy bid on belong to someone he would really want to eat with, or would it be some “old” lady that he would be stuck with spending the evening.  I suppose to the teacher and others in charge of the expenses at the school, the anticipation would center on the amount of money that the activity might bring in.

I remember one particular box supper at which I participated.  I have tried to remember who bought my box, but I can’t.  I just remember the box took a long time and a lot of effort to decorate.  I used pale green and pink crepe paper.  I have a mind picture of the box, but can’t really describe it.  I remember the meal that was in it, though.  My favorite lunch at that time was a boiled ham sandwich, white seedless grapes, and my mom’s homemade chocolate cake.  Boiled ham was a luxury.  We had home cured ham, but it definitely was not the same as store bought boiled ham.  Anyway, that lunch was the content of my box.   I don’t think there was a beverage in the boxes and I think we had coffee , iced tea, and perhaps lemonade that was served to all. 

One of the greatest benefits of Box Suppers, besides the money they brought in to the school, was the opportunity for the community to gather and socialize.  Even though there was usually some sort of school program or play that was presented prior to the bidding, the actual entertainment of the evening was conversation between friends and neighbors.  A fun time was usually had by all.

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Responses

  1. Hi Pat!

    I just stumbled across your blog using the “Random Blog” function, and have found it really interesting! Especially this post.

    I think it is wonderful that you are blogging for your daughter and the rest of yor family. It is such a wonderful way to share memories with loved ones, and I wish more people would do it.

  2. Mom, that sounds so fun. You guys should do that down there–might really kick up a ruckus!


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