Hot Breakfast was generally available from about 6:30 am until about 8:00. The breakfast cook would unlock the kitchen and start to work the griddle. Guys would come down during the hot breakfast hours for a “cook-to-order” breakfast. From 8:00 until about 9:00, a continental breakfast of cereal, bagels, toast and fruit was made available. Coffee was made available all morning and one could typically sit down and have a cup of Joe and a smoke with Lloyd who was finishing up his house clean-up prior to departing for his full time gig at Tallawanda High School.. The breakfast cook was responsible for clean-up and the guys did a pretty good job of clearing their own plates and loading them up for the dishwasher.
At around 9:30, the House cooks would arrive to prepare the day’s lunch and dinner for the Chapter. Lunch would start around 11:30 and run through 12:30 or 1:00. It was generally a “walk through” affair, served buffet style. We would line up at the kitchen door and take turns walking past the buffet table. Some items would be portioned. It was typical lunch fare; Soup & Grilled Cheese, “Beanies and Wienies”, Burgers, etc. The “All My Children” crowd would generally eat quickly and head back to the tube room to reserve their seats to watch Erica Kane, Billy Clyde Tuggle, Palmer Courtland and Jenny Gardner.
Dinner was a more formal affair served Sunday’s through Thursdays. The wait staff, dressed in white aprons, would arrive about 15-20 minutes prior to dinner to set the tables and fill the milk pitchers. Dinner was served family style, so platters or serving bowls for the evening’s food were filled and readied for placement on each of dining tables. With 66-70 guys living in the House and another 6-8 living in the Hooterville annex, we would expect roughly 75 or dinner every night. On of the waiters would ring the dinner bell sometime around 5:00 or 6:00. He would do so near the intercom so, no matter where you were in the House, you would hear the call to dinner. The men would line up on the stairs leading down from the side entry foyer to the dining room. No one entered the dining room until Mom Reaves had arrived.
It was the Commander’s duty to escort Mom from her suite down to the dining room. Mom would take her place at the Head Table and the Commander would sit to her left. Once Mom entered the dining room, the Head Waiter would give the “all clear” sign and the chapter would make a mad dash to find seats at the tables. The men would remain standing at their seats until the Creed was recited and the Chaplain had issued Grace. The men remained standing until Mom was seated.
Each table was provided with a limited amount of food and milk. There was also a juice machine which offered up a virtually unlimited supply of a Kool-Aid type beverage we called “Jiz”. No one seemed to complain too much; it was understood. If there was extra food, it was offered first to the Head Table and then the wait staff would divide up any other leftovers among the other tables. Generally, tables with the oldest guys (lowest pin numbers) were given preference when it came to extra food and drink.
When the boys had finished, they remained at the table until Mom got up to leave. If for some reason an active had to leave dinner early, he would ask Mom’s permission to do so. The gesture was simply out of respect for Mom. Her permission was always given.
If you weren’t available for lunch or dinner, you could request a “late”. The cook would take note and save you a plate from the meal. I don’t recall anyone ever messing with anyone’s “late” meal. We had an honor code about that kind of stuff.
Our weekend meals were casual. If I recall, we had casual brunches on Saturday and Sunday. The cooks came in early to prepare and we just warmed it up, served it and cleaned up after ourselves. Saturday dinners were generally cold-cut sandwiches (“Sangies”) with chips and soup or one of the guys would volunteer to man the grill and cook burgers or steak sandwiches (“Strombolies”).