#54 The Little Hot Lunch Room (Part 1)

Easter Sunday night, I sat at the laptop and pulled together the many comments people shared on Facebook about the hot lunch room on First Street.  From 1949 to 1964, students from Southside, Northside (Lincoln), St. Nicholas, and the Junior-Senior High School all ate in this little building.  I didn’t grow up here, but I very much enjoyed reading your memories and appreciate you adding to the library archive.

Leslie Zumwalt Golden remembered the lunch room was painted green (weren’t they all?).  Rosetta Graff told me that the seating was at picnic-style tables.  An interesting little detail was offered by Roger Shepherd.  “When they built the lunch room tables, Mable’s son, Verlin (Butch, later Lee) Schroeter and I were taken to the lunch room to see if we could sit high enough to reach the top of the table to eat.  We were in the first grade and some of the little ones.”

Galen Boehme, senior graduation picture from the 1963 Kinsley High School yearbook.  Do you know that most of the KHS yearbooks are digitally available on the Kinsley Library website by following the Genealogy & Local History link, School Records page?

When I arrived at the library this Monday morning with my article pretty much done, I found a typed page of recollections written by Dr. Galen Boehme.  I have decided to hold off on my article of your memories for one week, and instead share what Galen Boehme, Class of 1963, wrote.

 “When the noon bell rang at the high school, we students had one of two choices to move to the lunchroom four blocks north of the high school building – either walk (it was most likely a fast walk) or drive.  Some students had cars but could drive only to and from home and the high school building – not during noon hour.  Thus, these students and many of the freshmen usually bonded with the students who could drive to the lunchroom—and usually the cars were loaded with friends of the driver.

“The primary challenge in reaching the lunchroom was the mail train.  The east-bound mail train came through Kinsley at 12:02 noon – and the train gave a series of long whistles – likely to warn us students of its passing through town.

Lunchroom cooks:  Mrs. Proberts, Mrs. Schroeter, Mrs. Gunkel, and Mrs. Elliot (1963 KHS Annual)

“The cooks knew our names and frequently called us by name as we went through the line.  We entered through the east door and exited through the west door after we dropped off our dirty plates and silver.  We can’t forget head cook Mable Schroeter with her cinnamon rolls and chili.  She identified each on of us by name as we passed her.  Mrs. Lorene Gunkel always had a smile on her face as she would collect and wash the dirty dishes.  Mrs. Elliot and Mrs. Proberts were dependable helpers, working with efficiency.  Seating was never a problem as the movement of the students from the various school buildings throughout Kinsley was orchestrated with precision.

“Lunch period never seemed rushed.  We always seemed to have time to spare before the afternoon classes began.  Some students would on their way back to the high school building drop off to purchase an item at Duckwalls or at Hearn’s Grocery.  Back at the high school building, some students would sit in their cars or meander around the front door, visiting with friends.  At the same time, we knew that we had to be back in class on time or we would face the stern remarks from Mr. Wayne Wingo, the assistant principal in charge of attendance.

“The lunchroom on First Street held precious memories for several KHS students.”

I thank Dr. Boehme for taking the time to record his memories. 

Next week, “Little Hot Lunch Room – Part 2” will appear to remind you (or if you’re like me, you learn about) other aspects of eating school lunch in the 1950s and 1960s.  That gives you senior citizens another opportunity to call, come by the library, or Facebook post your memories.  And if you know the recipe of Mable’s cinnamon rolls, there are a lot of people who would like me to publish her secret.

Galen Boehme, senior graduation picture from the 1963 Kinsley High School yearbook.  Do you know that most of the KHS yearbooks are digitally available on the Kinsley Library website by following the Genealogy & Local History link, School Records page?

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