Soapsuds Hollow: Dells alumni still taking about 'Taco Jeanette's'
July 23. 2013 2:33PM
City crews were out and about Friday painting the school crossings in Dell Rapids, a reminder that summer is flying by and school is just around the corner again. It also reminded me of school lunches.
So many changes have been made to the school lunch program recently, and although I will agree that a well-balanced meal is important, I also wonder how a 200-pound high school athlete who burns 5,000 calories a day can make it through the day without second helpings and plenty of peanut butter sandwiches at noon.
The cooks always took good care of us kids at school. They didn't mind piling it high on our trays when we were hungry, or providing an unlimited amount of bread and butter, with or without peanut butter. There was goulash, beanie weenies, taco burgers, fish sticks, creamed chicken over biscuits, and chocolate cake with white icing. The basic food groups were always represented, too.
I posted a question on Facebook recently and asked former Dells students to provide memories of school lunch. Jeanette Fjellanger was the head cook when I was in school, and we fondly referred to the lunchroom as "Taco Jeanette's."
Although Shannon Young moved from Dells when she was 15, she recalled the lunch tabs – square, thin plastic pieces which served as the daily meal ticket. They worked great for playing lunch tab football, and we would flick them through the air in an attempt to make a field goal through a friend's extended fingers across the table. Evelyn Pederson was the lunch tab lady, much like the keeper of the poker chips at a casino.
Fred Dieken best remembers the tasty chili, always made from scratch, and the fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
Kris Begansky Norlin shared a less-than-delicious memory about creamed beets, and how they looked like cherry pie filling to her. She asked for extra, but they didn't agree with her. As she tells it, "they ended up on my tray after they had been in my stomach. yea...!!! Then I ran out the side door of the lunchroom to my house. Mom wasn't home and the phone kept ringing but I didn't answer."
Darci Lodmell Niva remembered a food fight of epic proportion, which started at the "Ellen and Sherena table." The end result was an all-school assembly, hosted by Circle E (Principal Jim Erickson).
The most common memory was that of Mrs. Fjellanger's cookies, and her willingness to hand them out to students at the back door of the kitchen throughout the day. Roger Hoyme and Emily Schwebach Murphy were but two of the former students who remembered the motherly kindness of Mrs. Fjellanger and those cookies, and the seemingly endless supply. As Roger stated, "’Mrs. Fjellanger, may I have a cookie please?' usually got you one!"
Some of us probably carry a little too much weight around with us to this day as a result of school lunch, but nobody ever had to leave the lunchroom hungry, that's for sure. And the cookies really were that good, too!