Sam Singer and the Pea Incident


 The evening meal, whether you call it dinner or supper, was one of two entirely different scenarios in the Singer family. If Sam was home that evening, which was usually about every other night off from the Store, then Martha cooked a home style meal which usually included a meat, a vegetable or two, salad and biscuits. She often made corned beef and cabbage, blintzes, a special macaroni and cottage/cheese/sour cream dish, chicken dumplings, Spanish rice and chicken and matzo ball soup and other delicious meals. Pizza was never eaten as Sam didn’t like cheese. The family usually went out to eat on Sundays which was a special treat and most of the time it was for Chinese food, but occasionally Italian or something else for a change of pace.

On the nights that Sam worked the evening shift, the family ate at the Store which meant you could just go whenever you wanted and ate whatever you wanted. For Marcia, this was always a hamburger, fries and Coke with chocolate ice cream for dessert.

She was quite a picky eater though and one day two very stubborn people butted heads over peas.

It was a Sunday, Sam’s only day off and the family had planned a trip out to Long Island after lunch which Martha had cooked. Marcia had eaten whatever she wanted of the lunch, but balked at the peas as she didn’t much like them. She loved lima beans, but not these and they were left on her plate and getting colder by the minute.

She was probably only about 5 years old and was sitting at a small red table set up in the hallway because the kitchen eating area was so small. There she sat waiting patiently to be excused from the table.

For some reason, Sam was not pleased and demanded that Marcia eat the dreaded peas and declared an ultimatum that weren’t going anywhere until the plate was clean.

Marcia was afraid of her daddy’s anger and knew he could erupt at any time, but she stood firm in her resolve that those nasty peas were NOT going to end up in her mouth and he couldn’t make her. So there she sat, not budging.

Sam got angrier and angrier and the time got later and later. Neither one was going to give in. No one else in the household dared to interfere.

Eventually, though, with the situation at a total impasse, the peas were taken away and the trip did not happen because of the late hour. Sam learned the hard way that trying to force Marcia to eat anything she didn’t want was a waste of his time. He did, however, resort to bribery!

Every once in a while, in an effort to expand her palette of foods, Sam would actually bribe Marcia with a toy or comic book in exchange for ordering something different at the Store. He would suggest mashed potatoes instead of fries or roast beef instead of the burger. Because she liked those things anyway, Marcia would agree and thus be the proud new owner of said bribery item. Everyone won!

There was another time when Martha served country style steak and Marcia took a taste, but didn’t like the gravy much, so wouldn’t eat anymore. Sam got angry and ordered her to bed without any more dinner! She went to her room, secretly glad because she didn’t want any more food anyway. She was, frankly, relieved! However, Martha must have felt badly about this and wasn’t going to let her baby go hungry so later that evening, she snuck some bread into Marcia’s bedroom for her to eat. Marcia appreciated the gesture and even though she wasn’t exactly starving, she ate the bread pleased that her mother had brought it.

When grown, Marcia would recount this incident and Martha didn’t even remember doing this.


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