Students brought their own lunches to school. Usually, they'd bring whatever was left over from breakfast or supper the night before.
A favorite meal was a bacon grease sandwich. Students would take a thick slice of homemade bread and soak it in bacon grease. Or they might slather bread with homemade butter or jelly. Sometimes, they would bring a can of milk or leftover soup. If they were lucky, they might have boiled eggs or cold fried chicken.
One common lunch was leftover oatmeal. Kids would let oatmeal from the day before thicken, slice it and fry it in butter. It would taste something like a cracker.
In warm months, students would leave their lunches in the cloakroom. In the winter, they might store their lunches near the wood stove in the classroom.
Kids whose families had more money may have had special lunch pails. The bottom of these pails would hold sandwiches, with an upper part for lemonade or milk, and a cap they could use for a cup.
The kids who carried these lunch pails were called "goody two-shoes"* because they were the only students who could afford to buy the pails and two new, comfortable shoes each year.
*Goody Two-Shoes is the character in a book written in the 1700s.
Parents backed up the teachers when a student misbehaved. A student might face punishment at school and then at home too.
When kids got into trouble, they usually had to stay after school to clean the blackboards or chop more wood. They might have to write a passage 100 times.
Girls and boys usually sat in different sections. One punishment might be to send a boy to sit with the girls or a girl to sit with the boys. This was very embarrassing to kids of that time. Sometimes students were made to sit on a stool and wear a pointed hat called a dunce cap.
In one punishment, the child had to face the blackboard. The teacher drew a circle about four inches above the kid's nose. The child had to stand on tiptoes with his or her nose in the circle, without moving. They might have to stand that way for 10 minutes for a first offense and 20 minutes for a second offense.
Most teachers did not give physical punishments. When they did, they could spank the child, sometimes with a paddle or a switch. Teachers might rap kids' knuckles with a ruler or stick.
Kids who could afford it ordered fancy lunch boxes from catalogs.
Most kids brought their lunches in tin cans that had held something else, such as crackers or tobacco.