Thursday, April 15, 2010

Theme Thursday Lunch

 
When I was a kid, mom or dad made my lunch.  I took it to school in a lunch pail.  Did I have a special one?  Probably, but I do not remember.  What I do remember is having a thermos of milk, a sandwich, some cookies and an apple or orange slices.  My father always made sure we had fruit.  At some point I became too "big" to take a lunch pail and began carrying lunch in a lovely brown paper sack.

By high school, we were eating in the cafeteria.  Not much memory of anything there except chocolate pudding.  By 11th grade, my best friend I would sneak out of school at least one day a week to eat at a local coffee shop across the street.  She and I would split a plate of french fries for 35 cents and we'd each have a cherry or vanilla coke.  It was heaven.

I worked summers at my father's office on Hollywood & Vine.  Once in a while, he'd take me to lunch.  he loved going to nice places so we'd eat at the Brown Derby or drive to Chinatown or walk up the street to Dupar's.  Hollywood was full of characters, derelicts, drug addicts and wanna-bes.  We'd see famous people, crazies, and prostitutes and one old guy in a ten gallon white hat & bolo tie who drove an old Cadillac convertible with hand tooled leather seats and real steer horns on the hood.  It might have been the famous boot designer Nudie, but I'm not sure.

Once I started my career in advertising, lunch was the silver standard for wining and dining the media department:  me, my media director and the other buyer.  While a national media buyer for Fotomat Corp., I purchased spot radio, spot tv and newspaper in eighty markets across the U.S.  We spent many days and evenings meeting with radio management from all over the country.  These guys (90% of them were men) were usually on a long road trip and they always wanted to eat in the best places.  I grew very spoiled.

After I went into broadcast sales, lunch continued to be the event of the day.  Clients expected to be taken to lunch at lovely restaurants.  For many years, the stations had due bills or trade or barter with many fine restaurants so their sales people could entertain in style.  And we were stylin' for a long long time.

The new millenia, corporate mergers, takeovers and acquisitions have replaced the independent owners of the broadcast industry.  Cutbacks and changes to the tax code have removed the perks for all but the upper management types.  Lunch nowadays is just lunch and I find myself coming full circle, bringing my lunch most days in a brown paper bag; having the occasional special meal with my husband and, once or twice a month, entertaining a client.

Ah but it was fun while it lasted.

26 comments:

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

Mention of Dupar's makes me happy! I grew up in LA and loved that place.
Cheers,
Robyn

AngelMay said...

It's really nice to have those vivid memories, isn't it? I really enjoyed reading this post.

faery of the wilds said...

the circle is complete now... lovely lunch

Baino said...

OH I miss the business lunch. That died here when they introduced a 'fringe benefits tax' used to be taken out by printers and publishers . . awesome! And presents, bottles of wine, chocolates . . these days they're all put into a 'gift register' and stored. Yep my lunch sounds like yours, 20 minutes drinking a milk shake by the river or eaten at my desk.BWAAAAAH!

tony said...

So It's Back To Chocolate Pudding?
No Bad thing.I have this image of upper management types with chocolate stains+crumbs around their mouths!
Great Post.Happy T.T. from Tony.

Brian Miller said...

yeah, i tend to brown bag it these days as well. T usually drops me a piece of fruit in there as well just to make me feel young. smiles.

Deborah said...

A nice round-table story, Deb - coming back to where you started. All I could think of when you described the power lunches was ....all those calories! Were people actually productive afterwards? I'd have been asleep every afternoon.

Mrsupole said...

When we were kids and used to visit my Aunt and her partner in Hollywood, it was always a fun time to see all the strange people walking around. And over the years it seems to have not changed. It has been about 10 years since I last went there but it is on the local news every so often and still looks the same, just older and shabbier.

It is funny how we went from the lunch box, to the bag, and then too cool to take lunch and then back to brown bagging it again. Since I no longer work, I have no need to eat lunch out, except on rare occasions. Eating dinner out, now that is another story.

God bless.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

That full circle has a way of closing on many things.... -J

willow said...

May the lunch circle be unbroken. Wonderful post.

Betsy said...

Loved the fries and cherry coke thing. Each stage fun and special. Being at home, I usually eat something standing at the kitchen sink...or hovered over my keyboard here. :)

Marguerite said...

Happily, the business lunch is still alive and well, in Lafayette. And we have over 300 thriving restaurants to prove it! Of course, it goes along with the Cajun obsession for good food! :)

Dreamhaven said...

I used to work the lunch line at the high school so I could get free meals and use the lunch money my mom gave me for more important things. Happy TT

Jill said...

Lovely meals eaten at wonderful restaurants...I bet you had some interesting foods too.

Isn't it funny, but I recall chocolate pudding on my HS lunch tray as well. I enjoy it to this day!

Tom said...

yea, the 80's was a big perk decade, things definetly have changed, at least on my level. Of course the congressmen still get whatever they want.

Kate Hanley said...

Your lunch as a child reminded me of mine - PB and J, 3 cookies and an apple. We bought milk at school. My mother made my lunch all through high school. Making my kids lunch these days, I think how lucky I was she was willing to make it for me for so long. Cheers.

Noni at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I love your early memories of lunch. There was always something so exciting about opening those brown paper bags, even though it was pretty much always the same. Guess any food excites me to some degree. Sharing french fries with your friend... and, those vanilla cokes! Ahhhh... the good memories! My favorite lunch my senior year was NuGrape soda and a package of CheeseNips (heaven help the nutrition there!). That was the first year we had a vending machine in our school. Could be a case for not having them available to children at all?!

But, my favorite thing you shared is about your lunches with your dad. That must have been so special.

My name isn't Evan said...

The high school lunchroom - an extension of the school's cast system with most tables staked out by specific people. Cliques were all about status and sizing up fashion fads. The food? Forgettable. High school? Really forgettable.

Your biz lunches sound like scenes from Mad Men.

PattiKen said...

I never had a business-lunch kind of job, but I could totally relate to the school lunch description. What I remember from the high school cafeteria is dieting, perpetually dieting, eating those ice-cream-scoop-sized mounds of cottage cheese.

AJ "Rohzi" Ellington said...

My dear, I really wish you would consider writing a novel of some sort. You're such a fluid writer. I almost thought I was reading an excerpt from a novel. :-)

My take on food in general is pretty unhealthy in that I don't partake of it much. :-/ Unfortunately, when I am tired, stressed, or on my cycle, my appetite pulls a magic trick and disappears. And seeing as how my life is often full of stress, and I am very tired, I don't tend to eat as I should.

Many things in life come full circle. I'm not sure what kind of world this would be if they didn't.

Jingle said...

http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/waiting-for-the-splash-theme-thursday/

My theme Thursday post,
I value your kind input.

Jingle said...

very interesting job,
lovely writing!

Jaime said...

meals are never really an event for me. breakfast and lunch at the desk, scarfing it down in between tasks. dinner gets inhaled because, really, how long is the little guy going to hold out in a restaurant...

kinda sad, huh? every so often i get to have a relaxed adult meal... but not often.

Susan said...

Lovely lunch essay!

Even the upper echelon don't get the lunch bounty anymore. My hubby is vice-president of global manufacturing at his company and they have a very low per diem on food. The max on dinner is $25, not sure what the lunch is. It's a little difficult when they're traveling, especially in France. $25 doesn't get you much in Paris!

Jason said...

Where was there a Dupar's in Hollywood. I am looking at a postcard of "Hollywood Dupar's" but can't recollect it!

California Girl said...

Dupar's was on Vine Street, just up from Hollywood Blvd. It's no longer there.