Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lunch pails from long ago

I'm not sure why, but last night as I was falling asleep, I started thinking about my lunch pail I had when I was young. I know that many call them "lunchboxes" now, but I called mine a lunch pail. I was born in the mid-60's and went to school in the early 70's. I pretty much had a childhood like they pictured on "The Wonder Years." (I sure with they'd put that on dvd, by the way). Thinking about my lunch pail brings back a flood of memories to my childhood and elementary school experience.

I searched around the internet a bit this morning, looking for my Bedknobs and Broomsticks lunch pail. I found that one sold on e-bay just a week ago for $6.50 plus shipping. Others go for quadruple that price or more. This was a metal lunch pail and had bumps and indentations around the pictures. One of my favorite things to do was to touch the little bumps and feel the fish on the front or the soccer ball on the back. I loved how colorful it was. I loved to look at the pictures on every side.

What I didn't like was how the top metal piece didn't stay shut. Sometimes it would, but if I was running down the hill to the bus or doing anything not mellow or careful, the lid could pop open and my lunch would fall right out. I remember one morning heading out to the bus and my sandwich spilled, my apple bounced and rolled across the street (visions of bruising rolling through my head), and my thermos fell. Then the thermoses were lined with glass and we had to be careful not to let them crack. You'd always shake your thermos after it fell to listen for broken glass. Later they made them with just plastic. They probably didn't keep your drinks as cold, but at least you didn't have the risk of drinking glass. I remember that the cup part of my thermos broke and I had to bring it to school for awhile with just the screw lid on. I'd see other children pouring their drinks into their cups to drink it and I'd have to drink straight from the thermos. I wasn't embarrassed to do it or anything, but I did long for that cup again.

We soon found a remedy for this faulty latch. The bobby pin! All you had to do was slide a bobby pin into the hole of the little barrel that the latch went over and the latch couldn't move. I did love putting that bobby pin in. And I loved the feeling of opening that latch over and over. It just felt good. They later came out with a plastic latch that would kind of spring shut and stay shut. Yes, it worked, but it wasn't nearly as fun to play with or as easy to open. This is where my thoughts traveled to last night. I was thinking about the latch change and how technology always intervenes and changes what we once loved. Not that technology isn't good. It is. But it often takes away something that we liked and replaces it with something that works better (but isn't as lovable).

Take the record player, for example. I do love my CDs (and am getting used to the whole MP3 thing), but it was really fun to stack a bunch of records on top of that tall spindle that held the records up high and eventually released them one by one as each record finished. There was something soothing about that. I learned to love the Beatles this way. I'd stack a bunch of Beatles records up so they could all play in a row, then would flip them all over to hear the other sides. (And yes, I tried playing the "Sgt. Pepper" one backwards to hear them say "Paul is dead" -- it was muffled, but if you really used your imagination and turned the record at an even pace, you could make out something :)).

Back to the lunch pails, I've wondered why I didn't have a Brady Bunch lunch pail since I loved them so much. After all, my best friend, Cindy, had a Partridge Family one (and oh, how I loved to look at that -- it came on right after "The Brady Bunch" each week and I loved that show too).

I think I probably ended up with a Bedknobs and Broomsticks lunch pail because that's what they had at Sprouse Riese, which was the only dime store in town back then (hadn't changed much -- now they just have a Rite Aid -- no Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Target). We'd go to Sprouse Riese and if they had something, that was our option. If not, we didn't even think about it. If we shopped out of town, we might find something else, but that didn't happen often, especially when all of us were little. My parents only had one car, so we stayed home all day while dad was working. Anyway, I was fine with my lunch pail. And I loved looking around the lunch room to see what everyone else had.

I think the lunch pail I admired the most was one that a girl name Jenny used to bring in. She had a completely different style that was vinyl and oval. It was tall and had a long handle like a purse. It was covered in flowers and just looked so cute. I used to look at it all the time. I can still see her walking into the lunch room and feel the emotions of excitement I felt as I oohed and ahhed about it inside. Simple joys in life.

I'd love to hear about your lunch pails if any of you have any great lunch pail memories. I spent some time looking through e-bay and a few lunchbox websites, just remembering the various pictures I used to see every day in the cafeteria. I'll end with a few photos of the Brady Bunch lunch pail. Enjoy!


  1. Hi Renee,
    Maybe I got through.

  2. It worked mom! You got through!!!!

  3. Oh! Oh!! I had the same bednobs and broomsticks lunchbox. My bet is I had it because it was on sale. I had never seen the movie but loved the animals playing ball on the back. Thanks for bringing it all back for me.

  4. That's so fun Ellen! You had it too!! I'm sure I got mine for some similar reason -- it was the best choice in the store, was on sale, got it for my birthday or something. I sure grew to love it though.