By Ilene J. Frank, Chief Curator
Did you carry a lunch box to school? I did. I remember I had a Ziggy one in first grade that I just loved. Lunchboxes, especially those we carried to school, are a link to our childhoods.
In 2001, Elizabeth Triplett Blakelock donated to the CHS her Peanuts lunchbox, which she carried in fourth through sixth grade to the Riverside Elementary School. You may wonder why we have this in our collection. There are many answers. It has a Thermos brand, a Connecticut company story. It was used by a woman who grew up in Riverside, a Connecticut life story. It is a tangible object that brings to mind memories of school, popular culture and for me, PB & J sandwiches.
The CHS has several other Thermos brand lunchboxes in the collection. The Harlem Globetrotters themed one is on display in our CEO’s office. An undecorated metal one with a red plastic handle is on view in our Making Connecticut exhibit. These lunchboxes reflect American culture as they often were decorated with the popular sports figures of the day, or favorite cartoon characters, or even Top 40 entertainers.
Lunchboxes are also a way to start asking questions about our families, the values we were raised with, and the economics of our childhood lives. Did our parents pick out our lunchboxes for us or were we allowed to express our individuality by making our own selection? Did we opt for a paper bag instead? Could our families afford to give us lunch money or did we receive a meal through the free & reduced school meal program? This simple lunchbox, which will be included in our next exhibit Growing Up in Connecticut, is just one object that is sure to spark childhood memories and maybe even prompt a few questions of your own. Come see it when the exhibit opens to the public on May 24, 2016.