This is what it was like in my days.
The boys marched down to the dining room, floor by floor. The dining room was in the basement on the girls side. The duty prefect stood in the middle of the hall like a traffic cop. His job was to prevent chaos and to check the boys uniforms.
"Hands out of your pockets, Smith! Wakey wakey, French. No talking, Black. Keep it moving, keep it moving. Where's your tie Barton-Slaytor?"
The dining room shone of polished wood floors and sunlight. The boys went to their appointed seats and stood waiting for grace to be said. The girls were already in place and standing. They stared at the boys. the boys stared back.
A few table prefects had already served the eight plates and passed the now empty serving dishes to the "slavey" at the opposite end of the tables. the "slavey" poured out the eight glasses of milk and eight cups of coffee and were all ready to head off for "seconds" as soon as grace was said.
Uncle Stevie, the headmaster, plodded over to his place at head table beside Lucy, the dean of girls, after the last boy had taken his place. He rang the huge iron ships bell he had installed on the wall behind him for noise control. There was a hush.
"God bless this food to our use and us to thy service, for Christ's sake, amen."
Chairs scraped, dishes clattered. breakfast began. From the tables already served by the hungry prefects, slavies quickly walked to the kitchen with their empty plates. It was a case of first come, first serve - supply and demand. A good prefect-slavy combination at your table could add twenty pounds to your body weight over the term.
If you were unlucky enough to get stuck at a table with a teacher at the head of it, it could mean starvation.
In the kitchen, between the boy and girl slavies, notes were passed like pollen. The chef, Mr. lacombe, didn't care. He was concerned with satisfying their instinct for survival, not guarding against any other urges.
Most of the meals were surprisingly adequate, although there were always those who complained. But one dish I remember still because I have never seen it before or since. On Sunday lunch we had our roast beef dinner, but on Sunday night we had a left-over melange that consisted of old toast, eggs and peas, smothered in a mushroom sauce.
I also remember the way we would reheat our cold toast by putting it on top of our cup of hot coffee. This would steam the toast, making it warm, but soggy. A long time before the microwave.
After all the food had been consumed, the duty prefect dismissed the tables one by one. The boys clomped up the stairs, eying the girls as they left. the girls looked back.
During the period between breakfast and chapel it was clean up time. First the boys had to clean up their own rooms until they satisfied the floor prefect. This meant sometimes, for those unlucky enough to be on the floor of a power mad dictator, submitting to a white-glove-along-the-ledge dust examination. If there any darkness showed up on the glove, you had to clean it again.
Also, a job list had been made up by the head prefect and posted every month. Each boy was assigned a specific section of the school to clean. But not all jobs were equal. For instance, sweeping and dusting the main hall was a good job. Whereas mopping and scrubbing the 3rd main bathroom was not.
The entire school was checked by a clipboard carrying duty prefect during chapel. Shoddy work resulted in detention. For instance, mopping and scrubbing the entire gymnasium during the recreation half of a half holiday.