When I was a 15 year old kid a friend got me a job at a Catholic Seminary as a switchboard operator. The photo above is of the building I worked in. It was a cool job for a kid. It was indoors and there wasn’t much to do but transfer calls, sort mail, read magazines and watch TV. The switchboard had four outside lines so I could call three of my friends and we could all talk at once. When no one was there I even used the fourth line. Five people on the line at once; I was a star of me peers.
The building I worked in housed six priest, the Seminary library, two classrooms and the dining facility for the priests. One of the perks of the job was that meals were included. The priests were well fed and they ate in a traditional formal Jacobean dining room. I, on the other hand ate in the office. I’d get a phone call from Regina, a round Polish cook with a New York accent. Every night I answer the phone and on the other end I’d hear Regina say, “Come git-cha supper.”
Before I could hang up the phone I could hear Regina closing the hatch on the dumb-waiter. By the time I made it to the kitchen a steaming plate of whatever with lots of potatoes was waiting for me on the first floor. I’d grab a beverage from the fridge and I’d make my way back to the office.
The funny thing is I can’t remember what sort of food she served. All I remembers is there were always lots of potatoes. There was another cook that worked on Regina’s days off. Her name was Lorna, and her meals were lighter, fresher and less dependent on starch as filler. No matter who was cooking the meals were always welcome and something to look forward to.
Eventually I started working nights there when I went to college. There were no late night staff besides myself, but I had run of the kitchen and was allowed to cook anything I wanted. The cooks for the students would arrive at 4:00 am to start breakfast. I’d get a full breakfast before heading off to school. I was even allowed to eat there on my days off. Think of my budget, getting three meals a day for free while I was in college. I know college kids that would kill for that arrangement.
Tonight I sit here writing, wondering what I’ll have to make myself for dinner after I finish this post. I would love for the phone to ring and hear Regina’s voice on the other end saying, “Come git-cha supper.”