The Lunch Box

In 1983, there was no Pinterest. There were no sandwiches cut in the shape of butterflies and no elaborate first day of school pictures.

But for me, 1983 was my Kindergarten year and it was a BIG DEAL. My parents had exhausted our small family budget on pencils, crayons, folders, glue (for sniffing, I think), back to school clothes and every other item on the list. But there was one item I had to have: a Dukes of Hazard orange plastic lunch box– rounded on the corners with a bright white handle on top. It had a matching thermos and was the coolest lunch box I had ever seen. On front was my hero, Daisy Duke, in her trademark jean shorts. Shiny, new and clean- it called to me. I begged and pleaded for it. But my Mom said we didn’t have the extra $8 for that not-on-the-list school supply. Five year olds didn’t understand this in 1983 or at any point in time.

So we packed a sack lunch, put on a new-to-me denim romper and peter pan collared shirt, got my Dorothy Hamill hair cut rolled under just right and headed to Kindergarten. The door opened and I can still feel the excitement: clean desks- even one with my name on it, beautiful bulletin boards with cut out letters and bumpy borders, cubby holes and shelves lined up perfectly with little backpacks all ready to go for BIG school. The floor in our portable classroom was linoleum and squeaked as you stepped on it; it was at max squeak capacity with 15 excited Kindergartners and their hurried parents.

As I turned to put up my bag, there it was: a long line of red, blue, yellow, black- all plastic lunch boxes with matching thermoses from every other Kindergarten student. I turned to my mom, caught her eye as we saw the shelf and I think we both teared up at the same time. I hugged her and whispered, “Everybody else has a lunch box, Mom.” I can’t remember her exact words, but I’m sure they were comforting with a bit of an apology.

I don’t know how they did it, but my parents came up with the money and I was proudly carrying my Dukes of Hazard lunch box – orange, rounded on the corners with the bright white handle- the next day.

Now, as my own children go back to school, I remember that excitement, the fresh smell of school supplies, glue (sticks, now- no more sniffing) and the nice clean backpacks. It might not be a coveted lunch box, but there is always one thing that will give them that extra security to be able to leave the nest. Now, just as in 1983, parents will do anything to love, support and encourage their children for a great school year.

Except for those animal shape sandwiches- I’m drawing the line there.

hillary lunchbox 1st grade


This is my first day of FIRST grade. One year later, lunchbox ready {Care Bears, I think} and Mom on top of things with a picture! Also, same outfit. Pretty sure I wore something similar every first day of school…

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