Tag Archives: WWI

My Grandfather’s Lunchbox

27 Jun

My grandfather’s appetite was the stuff of legends.

His dad worked on the railroad, and when he’d been away for a while, he’d often take both of his sons to a restaurant for a fancy meal. One particular time, Julius asked them if they were full. Floyd said yes, but LeRoy admitted he was still hungry. “Waiter, bring the boy another meal.” After the second meal, he took my grandfather to a second eatery because he was embarrassed to order a third time in the same place!

When he was in France during the Great War, my grandfather told me he had to run and be first in line at the mess tent, eat quickly, and then get in the back of the line, just so he could get enough to eat. After the war ended, the United States did not bring all of the soldiers home – many of them had to pay their own way. My grandfather was on one of the few troop ships to make the crossing. The family joke was that France couldn’t afford to rebuild the country and feed LeRoy Porstmann, too. When he did get back, my grandmother’s grocer thought she’d opened a boarding house.

A quarter peck of potatoes and eighteen eggs for breakfast, and thirteen sandwiches for lunch – two each of six kinds of meat, and one jelly sandwich for dessert.  Mind you, he was a fireman on the railroad at that time, back when you shoveled coal into the boiler.

When I worked for Blue Cross we could tell that some subscribers were railroad retires from their membership numbers, and I would sometimes ask what line they had been with. One elderly man did tell me he was with B&O, and I asked him, not expecting a positive response, if he had know LeRoy Porstmann.

A brief silence on the other end of the line, and then “Child, do you eat like your grandfather?”

You can get an idea of the kitchen table, here: https://www.gocomics.com/herman/2018/06/27?ct=v&cti=1322235