Fond Thoughts About a Brown Paper Bag

This brown paper bag represents freedom and happiness from my childhood. The painting by Karen Appleton caught my eye, a beautiful rendering of a simple item.
Amery Elementary School offered a hot lunch, and it wasn’t that bad, but I’d pester my mom to be allowed to carry my lunch. This would happen about 3 times a year, but she set a ground rule: I had to make my lunch the night before, I was on my own. Agreed. I’d often make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, throw in an apple, and wrap a piece of cake in waxed paper.
At school everyone received free milk, and on entry to the lunchroom, we baggers would get our milk and sit down. The tray kids took a little while to get served, and by the time they sat down we were half done. Carrying a sack lunch was a break from the routine in the school year, a bit of freedom for a few days.

The brown paper bag of treats at Christmas.

The other use of paper bags like this held candy and peanuts. The free Christmas movie at the Amery Theater became a high point of December, a prelude to the holidays. We kids poured out of that dark cavernous theater into the sunlight of a cold Saturday afternoon. There, Santa greeted us, sitting in a sleigh with bags of goodies. He along with several community men handed out sacks of unsalted peanuts and candy. It became a time of wonderful chaos in that cold time before Christmas. Why did we get these treats? We didn’t think about it, but I supposed it was our reward for being a kid and growing up in Amery.

After our church’s Christmas program, after we sang and recited our “pieces” to admiring, attentive parents and relatives, we’d head downstairs at Our Savior’s Lutheran. There we’d find Kool Aid, cookies, fellowship, and a bag of peanuts and candy, just like Santa gave us.
We felt gratitude, but we hardly ever expressed it. After all, we were kids.

Karen Appleton, the artist

The brown paper bag was painted by Karen Appleton of Atlanta. I spotted it on Pinterest, and though I know so little about P., clicking on the bag brought me to her other works. Portraits, still life, and food. We even talked for a time on the phone, a friendly person who admitted she detected a bit of a northern accent from me.
Check her out at :

5 Replies to “Fond Thoughts About a Brown Paper Bag”

  1. Boy! Did that painting bring back lots of memories! It’s fascinating how many emotions a brown paper bag can conjure up. Thanks.

  2. This lovely story conjured up wonderful memories for me too.
    Thanks, Loren!

    1. Thank you, Barb. Hadn’t thought a lot about the idea until I saw that painting of the brown bag. Other people have written in about the bag as part of a grab bag “sale” in drug stores and other places. A good way for stores to get rid of unwanted items/ junk.
      Thank you for writing.

  3. Karen is just the best!
    I really enjoyed your writing, thanks for sharing your warm memories.

    1. Thanks Christeen. Wrote an email and gave you a gift of some of discovered pictures.

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