“March is a-coming, hurrah, hurrah. March is a-coming and soon it will be spring.” Hanna sang as she made the beds. “Soon March will blow in and then the cold and snow it will blow away, soon followed by spring.”. Hanna was tired of the winter.

Shucks here in West Slodunk, it had been the worst winter since the winter of 46. Hanna lived by herself and cooked at the junior high school. Well, she really was not the cook, but rather the gofer, the getter, the lifter and the chief server. She always got to serve what ever old Missus Combs felt the children would bitch about most, so they put Hanna on for they knew that Hanna would and did make the best of any task she was assigned.

As soon as she had the bed made, it was vacuum the bedroom then dust and mop the kitchen floor, all before she went to work. She was so glad to have a job, to be earning her keep and not having to rely on relief and welfare like Janice and Julie. No sir, Hanna Bustros was the happiest 63 year old woman around. And you might say Hanna stood out, as she stood six-feet-two and weighed about two and a quarter, with a great big full head of salt-and-pepper hair. Hanna’s Joe had died six years ago, leaving her broke and with nothing except a little four room house behind the coal yard on Second street. But Hanna was OK now, she had no debts, she had her health and she had $756.13 in the Second National Bank.

As soon as she finished the kitchen, Hanna went into the small bathroom and changed into her white, starched and pressed uniform, her dress and apron. Then Hanna tied her hair back, wrapping it in a bun and placing a hair net over it. She brushed her pride and Joy, she brushed her SASS shoes, got her coat, put on her snow boots and headed for school.

It was still dark out but work started at eight and Hanna was always there by 7:30. Work was over at four but she worked until five because she liked what she did and she had no family, no close friends, just her work and her church.

“Hanna, oh Hanna, Mrs. Cloose and Miz Minion both have the flu, do you think you could do the cooking today? The menu is not bad and I will help you,” Mrs. J T Mueslis said. Mrs. Mueslis was the dietician.

“Sure can, Miz JT, sure can,” Hanna replied. She looked at the menu, studied it for a little bit, then went to the how much charts for 527 meals.

“Miz JT, you get Hanna a helper, Hanna needs a helper so she can make these children a good lunch.” Soon Manuel Herrera, a custodian, was drafted.

Hanna looked at Manuel. “You wash your hands, you, and put on a white smock. Put a hair net on your long greasy hair and one on that beard. You help Hanna and we will make these children want more, OK Mister Manuel?”

Manuel, who had just received his first legal Green card smiled and replied, “Si si, Hanna lady.”

Soon Hanna and the little man were both singing as they went about their chores. Manuel found this was fun, not too hard, and this big lady, she took no crap from nobody and she was always smiling.

“Oh my, oh my, it is getting late, oh my,” Miz JT kept saying.

Finally, Hanna looked at her. “Miz JT you have two choices. Shut up or get out, one of the two. I said we will make good lunch, Manuel and I, and we will.”

Miz JT cowered and started helping a little.

Soon it was time and the food was taken to the steam tables where each server was assigned a station. Long story short, the kids loved their lunch and the next day there were many more. Each day, more and more students ate in the cafeteria. But the day the two regulars returned, no one ate. The number of lunches fell drastically.

Hanna invited Manuel over for supper and soon Manuel and Hanna were the new item of gossip. That is until Mrs. Cloose and Miz Minion were given jobs in another school. And guess who got the cook’s job?

© By Tom (TOMWYO@aol.com)


Watch these pages for more stories by Tom.
In the meantime, click the links below for other poems and stories by the authors at Lara's Den.


Field Of Dreams

Popping Corn

The Leaf

City Streets And Flower Carts

When Dragons Walked

Our Part

The White Picket Fence

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