My brother Bob sometimes writes to me and asks me childhood trivia questions. Sometimes these are trick questions, the answers for which I can earn points; but other times he really wants to know something that he thinks I, being 18 months older and vastly more knowledgeable, will know. Tonight he wanted to know how the Catholic school that we went to handled breakfast on First Fridays. A little background: in Catholic school in the 50s we went to Mass and communion on the first Friday of every month of the school year, the performance of this devotional being a guarantee that when we died, we would go to heaven on the first Saturday after our death. In order to go to communion, however, we needed to fast from all food and water from midnight on Thursday night. The result was several hundred children needing food at 9:30 on Friday morning at a time when our cafeteria ladies were busily whacking open boxes of frozen fish sticks and french fries for lunch.
So the solution, and the answer to Bob's question, is that they sold us donuts and milk from the candy counter, around the corner from the place where lunches came out. We were crazed and also faint with hunger, the donuts were cheap, and I for one bought as many as I could carry. Here, drawn from memory, were the kinds of donuts we bought: at the top is a Plain, which was a vanilla glazed fried donut, not to be confused with a frosted donut. At the bottom, my favorite, is a Chocolate, which was the deep brown--almost purplish black-- version of the Plain, with little translucent flakes of fried sugar crusting the surface in a very pleasing way.
Bob remembers powdered sugar donuts. I don't think they were sold at our school, but I'm including one here for him. Below the Powdered Sugar is a Chocolate Frosted, also a cake donut, also not sold at our school as far as I remember. But on the right are my other two favorites: at the top a Plain Twist, and below it a Chocolate Twist. These were the best. I would bite the skinny tip first and then wolf my way down the tender inside doughy coils, leaving the fat base for last.
At the bottom of the page are two cartons of milk, the only beverage choice, gloppy sweet chocolate or nasty, milk-tasting white. Bob and I both despised milk, still do. We share the memory of devoting hours of our time to picking flecks of cream off the surface of our milk in those days before homogenization. We both believed that if we drank White through a straw it didn't taste like milk, nor did it do that dreadful mouth-coating thing, Our mother explained to us that since you couldn't smell the milk when you drank it through a straw out of a carton, you wouldn't be able to taste it. That was the only way I was ever able to drink the stuff. As often as possible I dumped my mandatory carton in the garbage.
I could easily put away four of those donuts. The print (from a carved rubber eraser) above is of me walking to my classroom with four donuts sitting like stones in my stomach and the sugar starting to kick in, just in time for three hours of uninterrupted desk-sitting.