What Kind Of Research Did You Have To Do? — Tisha Martin
Today I’m happy to welcome author Tisha Martin as she shares talks about her writing research.
Historical research is intimidating. Imagine sifting through pages and pages of information, not knowing what to put in or what to leave out.
When I was doing research for my WWII historical fiction novel, I ran into the necessity of needing to know what school-age students ate for lunch. I didn’t think it would be too much different from today (minus the fast food), but I was unprepared for some of the surprising facts surrounding the school lunch.
As I was perusing a cookbook from the 1940s, I was amused to see how precise each section was, and especially the chapter on “The School Lunch.” According to The American Woman’s Cookbook of 1940, published for the Culinary Arts Institute, a child’s school lunch should contain all of the essentials so that he/she will be able to properly attend to schoolwork. On page 60, the American Woman’s Cookbook states:
1. [The school lunch] should be abundant in amount for a hungry, healthy child. A little too much is better than too little.
2. It should be chosen with regard to the nutritive needs of the child and in relation to the whole day’s food.
3. It should be clean, appetizing, wholesome and attractive.
Attractive? Now that was an interesting detail! Each lunch item was wrapped individually in wax paper, with the heavier items on bottom, and placed inside the lunch box in the order the food was to be eaten first. I wonder, did students eat what was on top first? Would you?
What stood out to me was that this small chapter devoted to the school lunch emphasized the value of the meal, made “carefully and well” (60). Mothers packed one of every food group in each school lunch. Fruits and vegetables, the book said, “are not always easy to include in the school lunch, yet if the child is to be well nourished, some way must be devised to get them in” (61). Perhaps it was hard to get fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter time, but that’s why Victory gardens and canning were vital to the wartime American families. I appreciated the determination presented in this chapter to find a way no matter what.
It may seem strange to learn a lesson from reading a chapter about preparing a student’s school lunch, but I’m glad there was a time in history when people cared about even the smallest details. And that’s also why I write historical fiction.
Even though our lunches may not be wrapped in wax paper and placed in a tin box, I think we’re getting back to the organic way of eating, but would you want to try a peanut butter and onion sandwich? Or how about a peanut butter and pickle sandwich?
About Tisha Martin
Tisha Martin is a writer, editor, and owns way too many vintage hats. When not writing or editing, she’s connecting with friends on social media and blogging for others and on her website http://www.tishamartin.com. She’s also excited to serve on faculty at Breathe Writer’s Conference in October.