Nostalgia (Recipe: The Altamont Grade School Poor Boy)

I spent a good part of my childhood in a little town in the Southeast corner of Kansas. Altamont had a population of 1,000, 1 tiny grocery store where you could add things to your “tab” and a Post Office where you could find old men and towns folks standing outside and sharing the days news with each other. We parked our cars in the middle of main street, rode our bikes outside until late without our parents having to worry about us, and pretty much knew everything about everyone and everything happening to everyone in the little town.

Although I didn’t move to Altamont until my 5th grade year, it is the place I think back to when I think about my life growing up. I’m often nostalgic for my kids to experience the kind of growing up I experienced, which is funny considering I couldn’t wait to leave that town when I graduated from high school.

Altamont Grade School was the school I attended from 5th – 8th grade. It was a great little school… safe and comfortable… just like you would expect in a small Kansas town. My classmates were the same all four years and many of them had been friends sharing the same classrooms since Kindergarten. Even though I came in during the 5th grade, I never felt like an outsider. The town was welcoming and my classmates were special. We were often told by teachers that we were the best class they had ever taught.

One thing I remember about the grade school I attended was that we always had the very best hot lunches. Most people complain about school lunch… not us. Our school cooks fed us well! The most popular school lunch was always The Poor Boy. When Poor Boy’s were on the menu, you could bet most everyone would go back for seconds. About a year ago, I was feeling nostalgic about the Poor Boy and posted something about it on Facebook. The flood of responses from former classmates prompted my mom to call one of the former cooks and get the recipe. I promised a year ago to post about the recipe, and then… had the baby, had all the stuff that went along with it, and then, a year later, could not find the recipe.

I was able to remember most of what my mom told me, so I made the Poor Boy’s with my own improvising. I am fairly certain this is close to how you make the Altamont Grade School Poor Boy’s.

When I took my first bite into the Poor Boy that I made at home, I was slightly surprised. I mean, it was good… but at Altamont Grade School they were GREAT. So great that I craved them 20+ years later and they elicited such a huge response on Facebook of people who had the same fond memories as I did. Funny how nostalgia can change things, isn’t it? Makes me wonder if I had my kids growing up in Altamont now, if it would be like I remembered, or if just liked the Poor Boy, through the years the nostalgia has fogged what reality really was.

Either way…grade school friends, the secret mystery to “what is in a Poor Boy” has been solved. My kids loved this meal. My tastes have evolved some, and like I said before, they weren’t as great as I remembered, but still really good. I hope you enjoy them!

The Altamont Grade School Poor Boy

  • 2 loaves of Rhodes frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 10-15 slices bologna, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups Shredded American Cheese (or you can use kitchen shears to cut American Cheese Slices)
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted

Place bologna in a small skillet and fry until heated through. Set aside.

Roll out one of the thawed bread doughs onto a sprayed cookie sheet. Spread American cheese evenly over the dough. Next, spread the bologna evenly over the top of the American cheese. Roll out the other bread dough and place over the top of the cheese and bologna. Pinch the edges closed. Cut several small slits in the top of the bread dough. Brush the top with melted butter.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the poor boy is cooked all the way through. Cut into squares and serve. Finally, let the flood of school lunch memories begin and enjoy.

The winner of the Bertolli Date Night Prize Package is…Angelina mommybee17. Angelina, I will be in touch to get your address for Bertolli to send you your prize package. Thanks for participating!!

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  1. says

    I really enjoyed reading about your school and small town memories. We’re in a small Kansas town of about 3000 and it’s beautiful here. There’s a smaller town just south of us that sounds just as you describe it. We often think of moving there but the drive to work would be over an hour :(

    This poor boy recipe looks delicious. I’m going to try it using bread dough from my bread maker to see if it works. I’ll link back to you when I do :)
    .-= Sarah @ Mum In Bloom´s last blog ..Recipe: Tomatoe and Basil Salad =-.

  2. says

    It sounds like you grew up in such a nice town! Very cool!

    I wish I could relate to the good food in the cafeterias… This seems like something I really would have liked, but we never had anything like this. Our lunches were just… Yuck! All we looked forward to was pizza day on Thursday when the school would buy tons and tons of Hot-and-Ready type pizzas. $2 a slice, but man – it was worth it!
    .-= Kaitlin´s last blog ..Me? On the Martha Stewart Show? =-.

  3. says

    Nice post. My memories of school lunches aren’t as clear due to failing memory. But, as an elementary school teacher I can say that todays kids probably won’t have that many fond memories of todays hot lunch. Our cafeteria lacks creativity, more than likely because of a tight budget. They do their best given what they have, but nothing remarkable, the pizza coming closest on a good day. Funny you should remember a sandwich with bologna-it seems as if there’s a resurgence in fried bologna sandwiches- I’ve seen a few postings in the blog world about them lately and a friend of mine just got back from Vegas said she saw it featured on a menu at a diner there. Who’d a thunk it? Yours looks really good- I think I’ll try it on sourdough.
    .-= Tupper Cooks´s last blog ..Killer Meatloaf …… =-.

  4. Kristen says

    Thanks so much Kristen!!! Who would have thought these would be so easy. Can’t wait to try them. You forgot to mention how we all ate in our classrooms and scraped our trays into a big stainless steel bowl!! Can you believe that’s the way things were?!?! Sometimes is seems so long ago and other times it seems like only yesterday. Good times and great post!!

  5. says

    The closes we got to this was ham and grilled cheese. I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s show and am amazed…I didn’t realize how much processed food cafeterias really serve. Especially when I thought back to my favorites at elementary school…steak fingers dipped in mashed “potatoes,” veggie sticks (!), and sausage pizza (not pepperoni with those nasty little cubes of “pepperoni.” However, I must admit, my absolute favorite was probably one of the fresher meals they served…vegetable soup and either grilled cheese or pb&j.

    THIS sandwich, however, reminds me some of a sandwich my mom would make us at home. It was my one of my favorite Saturday meals. Bread with a thin layer of mayo topped with sliced hot dogs and cheddar cheese, all toasted/melted together in the toaster oven! SO good!

  6. says

    I have to admit. This does not sound good. However, I am willing to bet that it truly IS good. My first thought was “I would never eat bologna” BUT, I just told my son that in grade school, my favorite sandwich was bologna, cheese and mustard. I especially liked it slightly warm and squished how it was sitting in a paper bag until lunch time. Funny, I would never think to eat that now. Great memories though!
    .-= Debbi´s last blog ..Sweet Potato, Potato Salad =-.

  7. says

    Your story brought me right back to my days of elementary school. The only difference was that our school was so tiny, that we did not even have room for a kitchen in the cafeteria. Only a few tables and benches, so we had to bring lunch from home everyday. I was so jealous of my friends who went to larger schools and got to eat cafeteria food. When I got to middle school, I was so excited to buy my lunch, and not have to bring it from home. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed your cafeteria’s Poor Boy, as I grew up in New York, and we looked forward to Pizza Day and Soft Pretzel Day, but thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  8. Karla says

    When I watch Jamie Olivers food revolution it makes me cringe to think that now people think ALL school kitchens serve nothing but prepared high fat food. In our school (another small Kansas town) we strive to serve fresh veggies every day, introduce more whole grain products (95% are made from scratch), keep the overall fat content under the recommended 30% fat with no more than 10% saturated fat, and, yes, we even make fresh entrees. Now I’m thinking I need to reintroduce that yummy sounding Poor Boy – but put a healthier twist on it.

    I am hopeful that kids (and their PARENTS) are learning to eat more healthfully. When a child says “what’s that?” to an orange or a slice of cucumber or a piece of broccoli it’s obvious they aren’t seeing it at home. So we do our best and hope that we are making some warm fuzzy memories for this generation too!

  9. says

    I just blogged today about my love for the chicken sandwiches my high school used to serve. Mm, they were yummy!

    I’m not a big fan of bologna, so I’m not quite sure about this one. Maybe with some turkey or ham?

  10. says

    I grew up in a town JUST like that!! I used to ride my bike to the local grocery, get a $1.50 turkey or ham sandwich (if you didn’t specify the $1.5o version, it was HUGE), chips & a drink, and charge it to my dad’s account. Oh, the memories! :)

    PS. I’m 26, so this was in the 90’s! Since then the private grocery was sold to a corporation, so no more tabs. :(
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Homemade Graham Crackers =-.


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