Cafeteria favorites

When the Garden Home School opened in 1912, students brought their lunches or went home for lunch. Later Mrs. Merrill made the main dish at home, loaded it into a little red wagon and pulled it to school. Later benches and tables were added in the woods for lunchtime enjoyment. Otherwise, the children ate in the basement (of the original school?) and below the gymnasium. (Mapes, Garden Home the way it was–)

Isolda Steele was the school cook for many years, followed later by Helen Winberg. We have Isolda’s recipe book, so beautifully developed by her grandson.

Louise Cook Jones loved Mrs. Steele’s cooking. “Her yeast rolls were amazing – you could smell them cooking all over the school. And she made wonderful homemade chocolate pudding, served in tall glass dishes.”

Mike Norris wrote: “the best meal was hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes, spaghetti was also very good.” Several people noted the canned spinach was the least favorite.

Helen Winberg did double duty as the cook in the 1970s. She reports that some of the students liked silly baloney boats: a scoop of mashed potatoes on slice of baloney and heated in oven.

[Editor update July 2021: Helen wrote to us:

Hi Elaine, I never got back to you on foods kids like. There were baloney boats. Slice of baloney, scoop of potatoes in center, and a little paprika on top. Baked in oven until baloney curled. Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs. Spaghetti was a staple, as were cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Always fries and cookies. As years went by tastes changed. Turkey gravy and mashed potatoes were up there. Jello had to be plain.


Once or twice a month in the 1970s, several young mothers from the community sponsored a dinner and social hour for the local senior citizens. We (myself, Jan Pinniger, others) picked up those persons unable to drive and helped serve the meal that Helen had specially prepared for older people. Checking blood pressures and visiting with each other followed. We noted that they especially enjoyed chatting with the young mothers. School classes occasionally presented music or displays for the group. Gertrude Jones would always have a new reading or poem to recite.

By Elaine Shreve, May 2021

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5 Responses to Cafeteria favorites

  1. Pingback: The history of Garden Home School, 1912 to 1982 | Garden Home History Project

  2. LeAnn Pinniger Magee says:

    I remember Isolde, Helen and Gertrude. One of Mom’s favorite memories was playing chauffeur to these sweet ladies, carting them back and forth to senior lunches and church circle meetings. As a little girl, they seemed REALLLLLY old to me! But they usually had a cookie or a sweet smile to share. When the senior lunches took place during school hours, we would stop and say hello to the elders on our way out to recess. What a wonderful sense of community this created! Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  3. Ginny Mapes says:


    I just posted this on FB. Thanks so much for all your research.

    Did you get my discovery —William Clemmens was a circuit rider preacher for the Methodist?



  4. Michelle Walton says:

    Where can I purchase a copy of the cookbook? Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Helen Winberg obituary | Garden Home History Project

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