When the ladies brought the lunch

I found this photo of an old-style euchre party in the Wellington (Ont.) Advertiser, and it's kind of the classic euchre-party photo, really. (I like that it's in early-'60s black and white too, even though it was taken last October.) These people haven't made it to the lunch part yet, but given that it's being held in rural Ontario, there is no doubt that they will.

I found this photo of an old-style euchre party in the Wellington (Ont.) Advertiser, and it’s kind of the classic euchre-party photo, really. (I like that it’s in early-’60s black and white too, even though it was taken only last October.) These people haven’t made it to the lunch part yet, but given that the euchre party is being held in rural Ontario, there is no doubt that they will.

In yesterday’s post about a crokinole party in Eldorado (a tiny village not far from Queensborough) I quoted the notice of the event that had appeared in a local weekly newspaper. As I retyped the words one phrase made me smile and brought back a wave of nostalgia.

The words are innocuous enough: “Please bring lunch.”

Why would that invoke nostalgia? Because of the word that’s not there, but always, always, always used to be back in the 1960s and ’70s when I was growing up at the Manse. That word is “ladies.” Notices of crokinole parties, and euchre parties, and any other such community events in those days always ended with the same phrase:

“Ladies please bring lunch.”

The former one-room schoolhouse in Queensborough, now the Queensborough Community Centre. Over the years probably thousands of euchre parties and other such community events have been held here. In the old days the ladies were asked to bring the lunch; now it's everybody's job!

The former one-room schoolhouse in Queensborough, now the Queensborough Community Centre. Over the years probably thousands of euchre parties and other such community events have been held here. In the old days the ladies were asked to bring the lunch; now it’s everybody’s job!

And doubtless the ladies did: each bringing a Tupperware container of two (with her name written on a piece of tape stuck to the bottom, so she could retrieve the containers at the end of the evening) containing, I expect, those yummy church-basement (as I call them) crustless sandwiches cut into triangular shapes and filled with tuna salad and egg salad and ham salad; and maybe the pinwheel ones where alternate slices of white and brown bread with something along the lines of pimiento-flavoured cream cheese between them were rolled up and cut into thin circles. There would have been homemade bread-and-butter pickles and – in the Queensborough area, anyway – most definitely slices of locally made cheddar cheese – orange, white and marbled – sharp enough to make your cheeks pucker. (I’ve written here about how no event in the area, in those days or these, is complete without a platter of cheese. I imagine it’s because of the longstanding – though now, sadly, almost gone – dairying tradition and cheese factories run by local co-operatives.)

And there would have been squares for dessert: date squares and brownies and lemon squares and squares and squares and more squares. Rural Ontario was very big on squares. And there is nothing wrong with that. I love squares.

And I imagine it all would have been washed down with cups of that extra-strong Orange Pekoe tea that just suits church-basement sandwiches and date squares so well. I am sure no one went home from the euchre party hungry.

And now? Well, I’d be willing to bet there are still triangular sandwiches and squares and strong tea, though perhaps some new-fangled items like “wraps” have made it into the mix. And perhaps some people even bring store-bought things. But I’m sure everyone still goes home well-fed.

But just not by “the ladies” anymore. Or at least, not just the ladies.

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