Meat-and-Three (1938)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sat Sep 7 09:23:17 UTC 2002

   I've been trying to date the southern regional  dish of "meat-and-three,"
or meat and three vegetables, as described by the Sterns in ROADFOOD.  DARE
and the revised OED don't include "meat-and-three."  This interview, from the
Library of Congress's American Memory database (, is probably as
good as I'll find:

<A HREF="">American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project,
1936-1940</A>Item 3 of 500 [Betty Lowe]
<A HREF="">{Page image}</A>
{Begin page}
September 8, 1939

Betty Lowe (Cook Waitress)

Taylorsville, N. C.

Ethel Deal, Writer

Dudley W. Crawford, Reviser Original Names Changed Names

Betty Lowe Reba Lane

Taylorsville Jefferson

Smitheys Levys

Lena Lula {Begin handwritten} C9- 1/22/41 - N.C. {End handwritten}

<A HREF="">{Page image}</A>
{Begin page no. 1}
"I was born on a farm in Alexander County. My home is now in Jefferson.
Father still owns the farm of one hundred and sixty acres. Our cash crops are
corn, wheat, cotton and vegetables. Potatoes also grow well on our place.
Most everybody tries to raise some apples. We have a big orchard, possibly
three thousand trees. When the crop is good and we get them marketed right,
they bring in a tidy sum of money.

"I finished school at Jefferson. Our family being large, I didn't have a
chance to go to college. Father didn't approve of us girls going even if we
could afford it. He argued that girls don't need so such education. All they
need to do was to get married and raise a family. I don't agree. I think
everybody should have a good education. A woman may marry and not have to
work. Suppose her husband dies and leaves her a widow, with a crowd of
children to support. What's she going to do? Course you can go to the cotton
mill or hosiery mill and get a job without education, but you may not want to
do that.

"I'm glad I was able to finish high school. Some of my brothers and sisters
were not so fortunate. I belong to the Baptist Church and am the secretary
and treasurer. My one ambition is to be a nurse. I wanted to enter
<A HREF="">{Page image}</A>
{Begin page no. 2}
a hospital for training but some how or other I've kept putting it off.

"After I finished school in 1938. I got a job in Levy's Lunch Room at
Jefferson. He has a chain of stores and lunch rooms. I didn't like it so well
in Jefferson. The people there was hard to please. I asked the manager to
change me and let me come here where my sister works.

"We have been here about twelve months and like it fine. We do all the
cooking for the lunch room. You can get aplate lunch at Levy's for twenty
five cents. This plate lunch includes meat and three vegetables. Dessert is
extra, and you have your choice of pie for five cents. Lula and I bake all
the pies; cocoanut, lemon, chocolate and butter scotch are our favorites. We
never have any left over and could sell more if we'd make them. We feed a lot
of people. Noon is a busy hour, people come from all over town for lunch. We
get about all the people from the court house. After we get our lunch hour
over, we string our beans and prepair our vegetables for the next day.

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