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The Baldwin School: Yesterday and Today

The Baldwin School, Yesterday and Today


Janice Clark
Clip 4—Meal Time

JD: Who cooked the meals?

JC: Miss Tarts, a lady named Miss Tarts. And I mean she was a good cook, boy oh boy oh boy. She had the whole atmosphere smelling with her bread. Oh, you’d be in school and you could tell Miss Tarts was in the kitchen because it come from the house into the school. Good grief, you could hardly do your homework and do your work because you were thinking about food. And your stomach start [makes rumbling noise].
And she would hear it. And she’d look up and she’d look to see what time it was because she know the kids be getting ready to--we know about what time is time to eat. She’d get this smile. She’d say “Okay you all, time to wash your hands, time for lunch.” Boy, we’d be knocking each other down [laughs], trying to get our hands washed and clean.
And she'd check our hands “See, Miss Rosetta! Mine clean!” and run to the table. Macaroni and cheese, fresh, I can smell it now, I declare. Fresh baked bread. Fried chicken, good, good, good. [laughs] I mean, she’d fix a meal. She didn’t fix no sandwiches. This woman would fix a meal. Peach cobbler to die for.

JD: How many children would be at the table?

JC: You don’t know, you looking--you don’t look up once that plate [laughs], once the plate hit in front of you, you don’t look up and you don’t care. I don’t know. I really don’t. I was concentrating [unclear]. I don’t know how many would be at a table. We’d have some children in that house, boy. All of these kids right here, every last one of them, they’d be right there. We'd have 2 or 3 tables, but still, each table was full.

JD: It would be dinner for all the--

JC: Yes sir, yes indeedie, every one of them.

JD: Every day?

JC: Every day, every day. For them children, every day.

JD: And was that the end of the day after dinner?

JC: No. What happened, some of the parents might have to work late or something like that and she’d still have about half of them, half of this bunch still in the evening. So her lights never did go out till late, real late, real late. The last child would maybe leave, might leave at six o’clock, might leave at six o’clock.
And if not at six o’clock, then the parent would probably call or something like that and the child just stay over. And she had clothing for them to change, if they didn't have anything to put on, you know. She’d have clothes for them to put on, so it wasn't no sweat. It was nothing for a child to spend the night because she had, we had the beds, you know.

JD: Would you go back home after dinner?

JC: Sometime I would, sometime I wouldn’t. It all depends on how I felt that day. If I got out there to playing, you know, with the kids, if we got to playing and stuff and then darkness hit, I’d just stay the night. My mother, she wouldn’t worry about it because she knew where I was. She wouldn’t worry about it.