It was a long time ago, in a place far away. Gladwyne Elementary School in the early 60’s. Mr Fetter had been the principal as long as I could remember, and before that my brothers knew him in their time.
My Fetter was a wonderful man. A round, soft kind of demeanor, with a red face and white hair. Kind of like a cuddly teddy bear. He reminded me of Walt Disney in some ways. At our morning break, he would be behind the counter, with an apron on, serving up cold glasses of chocolate milk, along with a quip for each student. At lunch time, he would man the cooler, selling popsicles and making us smile.
In my last year, Mr Fetter retired to much fanfare. Dr. Winters took over. He was sharp-nosed, black haired and wiry with sallow skin. He brought to mind Richard Nixon or Severus Snape for this generation. He tried, for a time, to work the chocolate milk line, but lacked the necessary eloquence for that kind of repartee.
The new regime decided that popsicles were not to be sold after lunch anymore. Instead, a microphone was set up in the lunch room for announcements. One of which was that each student had to take at least three bites of their vegetables.
You can’t blame a guy for trying to improve the eating habits of his students, but we were appalled at such an intrusion! I always liked vegetables and was a good eater. One day, the vegetable must have been spinach or some such thing that kids don’t like. I ended up taking three bites from many plates.
Someone must have seen me. As I stood in line to deposit my empty tray, Dr. Winters was there to ask if I’d taken my three bites. “Yes, sir. I did.” I smiled at him. He then declared he didn’t believe me, and proceeded to feed me three more bites. Right there in line!
At the time, I don’t recall feeling bad about it. I liked spinach and didn’t mind three more bites. I had the satisfaction of knowing that even if this looked embarrassing, I was taking one for the team and plenty of people knew it.