David Moore comments on this story on his Facebook page saying, "Yes, Mrs. Robinson was strictly disciplinarian in all matters within her jurisdiction.... Typing class was a place to sit up and behave....or else! But I give her credit for my slightly better than average keyboarding skills."

Mrs. Robinson, the school dietitian.

Korea Christian Academy with the dining room at the far left of the building in the foreground.  The field to the left of that is where the sparrows were often caught in nets.  Mrs. Robinson's house is in the far background on the right.

Dr. Rodney T. Hard

                                               SPARROW SOUP

By:  Sterling Hard

When Rodney and I were in high school at the Korea Christian Academy boarding school, the diet we all had as students was relatively limited by the tight budget within which the dietitian was forced to work.

Mrs. Robinson, one of the missionary wives was a fine lady, but she was tough when it came to feeding the kids.  For instance, when we found weevils in our hot breakfast cereal, her response was, “You’re getting your protein; don’t complain.” The possibility that the hot cracked wheat could be run through a sieve prior to cooking never occurred to her, and she was highly unresponsive to our suggestion to that effect.

The basic issue was protein. Our ration was a very thin, very heavily breaded slice of meatloaf, once a week.   

To supplement our spare rations on our own, frogs sufficed during certain seasons of the year, but our favorite was sparrows. 

During the early to late spring, it was very easy to catch sparrows with thin nylon filament nets.  Simply put up the nearly invisible net between two poles, sprinkle some grain in front of it, and when the sparrows were too busy eating to notice, the guys would come running and yelling from the other direction to scare the birds right into the nets. 

Plucked and cleaned, these little carcasses, bones and all, were morsels which would be more than sufficient to give you a couple mouthfuls of really tasty cooked bird done to perfection, roasted over candle flames. 

It sounds a bit like it is right out of a Charles Dickens story, but it was great fun.  We relished the pushback against the dietitian which gave us a juvenile sense of self-reliance.....but mostly, it was just plain fun. 

Well, within minutes after the dust settled on the Sunday nap, snakes and mice caper (see High School Prank story), the girls marched en mass up to Mrs. Robinson’s house to register a petulant complaint. 

The judgment was swift and sure, “No meat for a week...at least!” 

The strategy plan of the rebel band of boys didn’t take long to get formulated.  Monday evenings was traditionally vegetable soup night.... so, we had all afternoon after classes on Monday to put our plan into action.

Early that evening, as the cook was preparing a big pot of vegetable soup, a couple of us distracted her and several others dumped an armful of plucked sparrow carcasses into the soup. The roiling, boiling soup quickly reduced the birds to flecks of meat and little bones which settled on the bottom of the pot. 

During dinner, after Grace was said, the girls were the first to notice the flecks of meat and the tiny bones in the bottom of their bowls of soup. 

Accusatory glances were exchanged between the boys and the repartee went something like this:  in mock horror, “Steve you didn’t really, did you?”.....” Do what, I thought I saw you guys messing around out in the field.” 

It didn’t take much of this to convince the girls that the flecks of meat and the tiny bones were from the very mice that had splattered on their windows the previous day.   

When “reality” dawned on them, their shocked response was to get up en mass and troop back up to Mrs. Robinson’s in the dark. 

What transpired up there, we could only guess, but the long and short of it was that our meat ration was restored.  The “rebels” had triumphed.....long live the revolution.... so may all dictators face the justice due them, when confronted with a resilient and determined foe.

Rodney on the far left (partially obscured) and Sterling peeking out from behind the girls as they exit the school building.

Miriam McClymont comments on her Facebook about this story saying, "Rodney, I'm in this picture on right in tartan pleated skirt facing camera.  I remember well a lack of protein in our diet and the smell of roasted sparrows in the school when we came in for a breakfast of rice and bean sprouts."

Cheryll Findlay comments on this story in her Facebook page saying, "One week we had almost nothing but rice and bean sprouts. I can't stomach them to this day."