Tag Archives: nostalgia

Old School Lunching

Long View: What Food Group Includes Olive Loaf?

My childhood lunch menu:


  • Banana
  • In-season apple


  • Olive loaf sandwich on soft white bread, with lavishly applied mayonnaise (The sandwich had to be cut on the diagonal, or I wouldn’t eat it.)
  • Fresh Fritos in an individual bag serving


  • Hostess Ding Dong or Sno Balls


  • Sweet tea, chocolate milk, or Kool-Aid

There was little variation in this menu when my brother and I were little kids, and our mom saw little reason to change it. She, and countless other mothers at that time, felt this was a nutritious, filling lunch for 2 growing boys. On the positive side, the Fritos were made from corn, so it counted as a vegetable.

After lunch, Mom expected us to lie down and take a nap. We never went to sleep for some reason, but at least she got a few moments of peace and quiet.

OK, so this was probably not the most nutritious meal we could have eaten, but our supper was usually a well-balanced meal. However, dessert was a nightly occurrence, and a spectacular Jell-O salad often graced the table. Neither my brother nor I seem to have suffered any ill effects. At least not yet.

Remember, this was a time when candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars were common treats for kids. Flavored sugar water in tiny wax bottles was a Halloween staple, for reasons that are still unclear to me now. SweeTARTS were an odd and unexplainable pleasure, and we ate them by the fistful.

In retrospect, my food preferences have certainly changed over the years. I refused anything with cheese in it, except for a grilled cheese sandwich. I guess in my head, the grilling made it acceptable. I wouldn’t eat a vegetable unless it was cooked to death. That is definitely not the case now. I needed all my seafood encased in a crispy, fried batter, and I remember hating beets. Wait, I still hate beets.

I think we all develop our palates over time and grow to have more complex taste preferences. Healthier eating seems a lot more attainable these days, at least if we make the choice.

But occasionally, I still grow nostalgic for the treats I enjoyed as a child. I recently bought some olive loaf and white bread so that I could recreate my childhood favorite.

It was disgusting.


Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Steamboat Ride to Relaxation

Long View: Nostalgia for a Steamboat

The relentless pace of modern life makes it easy to forget how different things were in the past.

Last fall, my friends Bill and Sharon took a steamboat trip, and they described it as “incredibly relaxing.” Sounds like an interesting way to travel, and it piqued my curiosity about riverboats in general.

There are 2 main varieties of paddle steamers: a sternwheeler (one wheel at the back, naturally) and a side-wheeler (I’m sure you can guess where they are located). It seems their speed is dependent on a number of factors, including cargo on board and headwinds. An average speed seems to be around 15 mph, which was very fast when steamboats became popular.

Some steamboats were the height of luxurious travel at the time. Cut crystal lighting, lavish furniture, and carpeting were the most up-to-date available. Live entertainment and game playing were popular activities. Other steamboats were more pedestrian, combining passengers and cargo, both of varying degrees of quality. However, railroads eventually eclipsed the importance of riverboat travel.

Although popular media has sometimes romanticized riverboat travel, it occurs to me they didn’t have air conditioning. (I have been in St Louis during August.) I am also wondering what the bathrooms were like, in case someone wanted to grab a quick shower. The very real threats of fire and running aground were constant reminders that some of the dangers of a riverboat trip came from the ship itself, not just the other passengers. Hitting snags or sandbars and exploding boilers all presented very real threats to life and limb.

My friends said the food was good but definitely not low calorie. I asked them what they did between meals, and Sharron said they mostly loafed on the deck and watched the scenery go by. Occasionally, they enjoyed some live music or a dramatic reading. Card games were a popular choice among some of the passengers, while others napped. “We both noticed it was the most relaxed we’d been in a long time,” she said. “We highly recommend it.”

It seems ironic to me that a historic mode of travel formerly known for its speed now sets the pace for a leisurely excursion. Considering the cost of today’s riverboat tickets, it’s even more ironic how much people are willing to pay for a little relaxation.


Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.