Saluda Lunch program

Madison Courier article, Friday, April 19, 1940
They Say and Do in the Country by Chas. E. Heberhart


Moving in geographical waves the county school survey of this column arrived Wednesday in pouring rain at Saluda high school. The delay in reaching this school this late in the school year was due to a number of things. One of these being the report that the school was carrying on an interesting experiment and perhaps it would be advisable to delay until it was worked out more fully.

The wait justified the procedure, for Saluda school is not only something for local pride but one of its feats has attracted statewide attention, experts coming from as far as Indianapolis to observe the progress of at least their adventures.

It will take a bit of room to sketch in the background and steps that led up to Saluda’s school having arrived at its particular eminence. In the first place, there is no township school in the county that has a more loyal supporting community. Down there they are proud of their school, always have been and have defeated several efforts to curtail or shift that school from their precincts.

Fire, many months ago, razed a perfectly good gymnasium and state authorities were not altogether favorable to the school building that survived. It took the fire and the criticism of the buildings to unite the school’s supporters. In the course of time they will have a new building, but what they have done with their present one is just about the finest example of enterprise and devotion shown in this county in many a long year.

Several new floors have been put in. Halls have been cleared, four chimneys have been torn out, a model kitchen installed in the basement and a dumbwaiter, with a special housing completed to deliver meals from this basement to the school floor. In the school rooms spaces have been gained by the elimination of needless closets.

Then to top off this physical re-arrangement, indirect lighting has been installed with power from the Madison utilities company replacing the old private power plant. The woodwork throughout the building has been gone over and a spaciousness acquired that has literally transformed much of the interior. Liberal use of white paint also has given the exterior a breath of new life, while a careful selection of wall tints and colors have made the interior light and pleasing.

But not content with these readjustments and improvements the school, its teachers and its supporting PTA have introduced successfully a feature that is bearing interesting results. This is the service daily of a warm and healthful meals at such a low cost that it is within the reach of all the children – and in addition, is serving free to any children who cannot afford to pay even that slight charge.

These meals are sold to the children at a maximum of 10 cents and a minimum of five. Each child pays only what he can afford to pay. The average per child is 35 cents a week. The number of meals served range from 100 to 110 daily. These meals are served by three employed women under the direction of Mrs. Naomi Fox, home economics teacher, and aided by a number of upper grade children who contribute their service as waiters and cleaners-up in exchange for their meals.

The meals are prepared in the new kitchen in the basement by Mrs. Ed Hay, cook in charge there, and by Mrs. Clara Kemp and Mrs. Pearl Stockdale. The salary of Mrs. Hay is paid by the PTAand school and the other two receive their pay from WPA.

And now comes the unusual feature of this lunch service. More than fifty percent of the food used is supplied gratis by the surplus commodities offices at North Vernon, being delivered once a month. The range of these supplies is interesting and broad, Including butter, lard, white and graham flour, meal, raisons, prunes, apples, canned peaches, oranges and other articles of food. Only a few days ago cases of oranges arrived adequate to meet the needs for several days more.

As one informant put it Wednesday, the abundance of the things obtained from the surplus commodities branch has been a big factor in making the meals as well balanced and diversified as they are. Just now, Mrs. Fox says the difficulty is in getting sufficient milk, for they are required to use only milk from certified herds. Powdered milk has been resorted to to supply often needed quotas.

Wednesday’s meal was typical. It consisted of macaroni and cheese, bread and butter, apple salad and chocolate pudding. Another menu was butter beans, potato salad, prunes, lettuce and an orange. The method of serving the meal is interesting. The laden dishes come up from the basement on the dumb waiter then are dispersed to the children, who line up, by the volunteer waiters. They then go to their rooms and eat the meal at their desks, in the hall or on the steps outside when the weather is right. Empty dishes are delivered by the children to the waiters at the dumbwaiter and shot down to the basement for cleaning.

In the newly made kitchen is an efficient range, ample tables and shelving and off the kitchen the storerooms for food, well stocked and cared for. Incidentally, in the storeroom are the surplus dishes of which there is an ample supple. The story of these dishes is interesting for they were bought with the money received for the first meals served under the present system.

Other schools in the county, like Hanover, have their lunch services conducted by their home economics department through cooperation with their PTA, but none have solved their problem in quite the same way as Saluda, for Saluda, in the fire that destroyed the gymnasium lost all of their home economics equipment, kitchen and all.

As it is now, the home economics department is just beginning to fully recover from that loss, with new sewing machines, tlbles, and other items necessary to efficient functioning. Mrs. Fox is proud of what they are doing. She has 48 children in her classes, 26 being in high school and 22 in the seventh and eighth grades.

But the key to the situation is O. C. Boyer, principal, with the Saluda school for 14 years. He has a strong group of teachers about him and is in the peculiar position of not only heading the high school and grade class in the Saluda building but being principal by remote control over the 3-grade school at Paynesville an of the 2-grade one room school known as “Ten Cent” school.

At Paynesville there are 60 pupils. About half of these are In the fourth and fifth grades under Mrs. Johnson. The remainder are in the third grade, taught by Mr. Maddox. At Ten-Cent school there are 40 pupils in the fifth and sixth grades under Mr. Hooker.

Six buses bring the children to Saluda high school every morning and transfer those going to Paynesville and Ten-Cent. Saluda school is used as the collecting and distributing point.

Mr. Boyer is proud of his various departments. One of these, that of mathematics, headed by Cory Benham, has quite a record for itself. To begin with, it is the only high school in any township, outside of Madison, in the county, where trigonometry is taught. Also, two of its graduates, Joe Boyer and Dale Stine, led their class at Hanover College this year in calculus. Boyer landing first place and Stine second. Joe Boyer is the son of Principal Boyer. Mr. Benham had a large class doing stunts in math yesterday – and weirdest of all things, they seemed to enjoy it.

Miss Jane Kent, who heads the business course, has her hands full with her class of 18 in typing and the desire of many more to take the course. Like Central and at North Madison, this business department is one of the most popular in the school.

There seems no dearth of youngsters at Saluda school, like elsewhere in the county. Ruth Wilson has 30 in her primary class, in a spacious room looking out through many windows to the north and east, while Miss Elnora Henney has 18 tots in the big room opposite in the second grade.

As stated earlier, Saluda school has an earnest community support, a support that has faced many difficulties and done things in a large way. Typical of this is the little known pledging of $500 by friends of the school at the time they put in their heating plant and the sacrifice of many dollars – as high as $40 in several cases, by teachers from their salary to give this school its excellent steam plant.

In the remodeling that has been done in the last twelve months and which extended clear into the opening of school, the interior of the building has been transformed, and likewise the exterior has been beautified. Another notable thing about the school yesterday was the apparent enthusiasm among all connected with its conduct.