The Beauty of a Lunch Box- Please Share Yours

 Good morning,” he cried heartily. “Elnora, you look a picture! My, but you’re sweet!  If any of them city boys get sassy you tell your Uncle Wesley, and he’ll horsewhip them. Here’s your Christmas present form me.” He handed Elnora the leather lunch box, with her name carved across the strap in artistic letter.
    “Oh, Uncle Wesley!” and that was all Elnora could say.
   “Your Aunt Maggie filled it for me for a starter,” he said. “Now, if you are ready, I’m going to drive past your way and you can ride almost to Onabasha with me, and save the new shores that much.”

Elnora was staring at the box. “Oh, I hope it isn’t impolite to open it before you,” she said. “I just feel as if I must see inside.”
    “Don’t you stand on no formality with the neighbors,” laughed Sinton. “Look at your box if you want to!”
     Elnora slipped the strap and turned back the lid.
This disclosed the knife, fork, napkin, and spoon, the milk flask, and the interior packed with dainty sandwiches wrapped in tissue paper, and the little compartments for meat, salad, and the custard cup.
    “Oh, mother!” cried Elnora. “Oh, mother, isn’t it fine? What made you think of it, Uncle Wesley? How will I ever thank you? No one will have a finer lunch box than I. Oh, I do thank you! That’s the nicest gift I ever had. How I love Christmas in September!” 1

The above excerpt is from Gene Stratton-Porter’s novel “A Girl of The Limberlost.”  The author goes into great detail describing Elnora’s lunch box and it’s contents, all specially wrapped in tissue paper, tucked gently in their own compartments, the linen napkin, the porcelain dishes, and milk glass. I read this novel two years in a row to my Botany students, and as a class, we were captivated by her lunch box, so much so that  each student had decided that they too would like a lunch box just as Elnora’s. Even the boys- secretly.  

On one of his business trips, Himself spotted a vendor with woven market baskets. He sent me a message with a photo of the booth, and said “pick one or two.” 

“I like the blue and tan market basket, and that teeny tiny red and blue basket, front left,” I wrote back. I have that little basket now and have found that it is the most lovely way to carry my Mason Jar lunches or snacks about town. It’s as if I am on Holiday back in Europe again, riding along paths through sunflower fields, my basket firmly attached to my bicycle’s handlebars filled with goodies for a rest on a park bench or a picnic by the stream. Some may call it a bit twee for their taste, but it wonders me how little touches, such as a cloth napkin in my lunch basket, with a  bit of chocolate, a large fresh strawberry, roasted grapes, and a jar of mint cucumber sparkling water can make a regular day  feel unexpectedly and aimlessly blissful.  

1Stratton-Porter, Gene. A Girl of The Limberlost. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.

What does your lunch box look like?   Please post a photo of it on my facebook wall– let’s start a gallery of lunchboxes from all over the world. 


  1. Tonya
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

    Not as lovely as yours! We are all due for new lunch boxes. I packed the girls a salmon salad sandwich, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Of course chocolate milk.

  2. Posted May 9, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    Mine are not pretty, usually a brown bag. But I am getting better at packing things that are liked!

    • Robin Sue
      Posted May 9, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

      I wish I was one of your kids so I can get a lunch from you! Your children have the best lunches! It is fun to watch our kids compare their lunches.

  3. Posted May 9, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    I love this post Robin Sue. Wish I was still in the business of packing lunches. You are an inspiration.

  4. Posted June 2, 2012 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

    I have a bunch of those baskets in all shapes and sizes. I often fill them with my jars of food for picnics and whatever. Cloth napkins and linen tablecloths get tucked in, too. My kids each have their own little baskets as well to carry their snacks in jars. 🙂

  5. Merle
    Posted June 3, 2012 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

    Girl of the Limberlost is my all time favorite book. My mother bought it for me as a child and all these years later I still re-read it occasionally. I have often wished I could find a lunch box just like the one Uncle Wesley presented to Elnora; loving filled by Aunt Maggie.

    • Robin Sue
      Posted June 4, 2012 at 5:43 AM | Permalink

      I want a lunch box like hers too! I will have to read the story with my daughter this summer.
      Robin Sue

  6. Sis
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 3:33 PM | Permalink

    When I lived in Indiana an elderly neighbor bro’t me that book and Laddie (by the same author). Then she showed me where those places were. That was nearly 40 years ago and I still love those books. 🙂

    My kiddos are not into standing out and looking different so we use very “quiet” lunch packaging.

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