Friday, October 20, 2006
Spaghetti Supper is a class act
The Mosquito dined out Tuesday night right here in Carlisle — at the incomparable Sixth-Grade Spaghetti Supper.
It was this reporter's first-ever taste of this community event, and from start to finish it was a class act. I was impressed by the smooth operation that served well over 1,000 meals in three hours, and I was amazed by the quality of the meal. My expectations were low: lukewarm, sticky pasta topped with a runny red sauce. Instead, I enjoyed a heaping plate of hot spaghetti with thick, rich meaty sauce, salad, garlic bread and a home-baked cookie. Spaghetti supper veterans pronounced this year's fare "bigger and better" than previous years.
We had arrived at 5 p.m. in a steady drizzle and joined a longish line on the plaza marked by umbrellas and kids in slickers. Before long, a parent on the committee came to our rescue and shepherded the entire line into the auditorium to await our turn at supper. Our group of five was soon escorted into the cafeteria by one of the co-chairs, Nicole Bloomfield, and after an impressive set of hand signals by several parents stationed on the floor, we were led to a table. Our attentive waitperson, sixth-grader Stuart Semonite, took our orders ("with sauce or without," "milk, juice or water"), bringing one meal at a time with an efficiency unmatched in any restaurant.
A Carlisle tradition for 31 years
This annual fall tradition began in 1975 as a fundraiser for sixth and seventh graders for the school's outdoor education program. Now, sixth graders and their families feed Carlisle on this special night to fund outdoor ed as well as buses for middle-school field trips, seed money for the seventh-grade play and for graduation expenses.
In the early years of the Spaghetti Supper, when the population was considerably smaller than today, much of the meal was Carlisle-grown. Families contributed their home-grown tomatoes, green peppers, onions and salad ingredients, and made cupcakes and garlic bread at home. By the late 1980s, the home-made spaghetti sauce was supplemented by donations by the Prince Company, then headquartered in Lowell.
In the 1990s, stricter Board of Health regulations required that all food must be prepared in the state-certified school kitchen and that children could not work in the kitchen. One Carlisle native lamented that "all [kids] get to do anymore is serve. We used to actually work in the kitchen during the Spaghetti Supper! These days it's just another chance for parents to do a ton of work and for the kids to reap the rewards."
In one corner of the cafeteria local portrait artist Gail Fitzpatrick set up her easel and painted the colorful scenes unfolding throughout the event. The finished work will be a collage of this year's Spaghetti Supper, to be sold at the CSA auction next spring.
The raffle turned high-tech this year, when a large screen displayed the computer-generated names of lucky winners of such items as Boston Bruins tickets, three home-baked pies, sandwiches from Ferns and a red kayak from EMS. One not-so-lucky diner was "0 for 12," but it was money well spent.
As we left after supper to make room for the next diners, I overheard a mom at our table asking our waitperson Stuart if her young son could have a second carton of milk. Demonstrating all the instincts of a good waiter, Stuart replied, "I'm sorry, but my shift is over." When his replacement appeared at the table and was asked for a second glass of water, the answer was, "I'm sorry, but we can't give seconds on anything." The waitstaff are well trained and know the rules.
Thanks and congratulations to all the sixth-graders, their families, and especially to co-chairs Liz Bishop, Nicole Bloomfield and Holly Salemy for a memorable evening.
See you next year!
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito