Carmel Clay Schools’ cafeteria worker recalls Jello mess, friendships after 45 years on the job 

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Carmel Clay Schools board of trustees vice president Pam Knowles congratulates Lillian Tickle on 45 years of work in the district. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

By Maria Cook

Lillian Tickle

Much has changed since Lillian Tickle began working in the cafeteria for Carmel Clay Schools, but as she plans to retire – 45 years later – her favorite part of the job has remained the same.

“It’s my friends. I’ve met a lot of friends in this job,” she said. “I’ve met many, many good people. My friends are the best thing that I’ve enjoyed through the school.”

CCS hired Tickle, then 28, in 1973. Since then, she’s held a variety of titles in food preparation, most recently as a part-time food service worker at Carmel Elementary. The CCS school board honored her for her 45 years of service at Carmel Elementary at its April 23 meeting.

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Lillian Tickle during her first year working for Carmel Clay Schools. (Submitted photo)

Tickle said she has many great stories and fond memories of her time with Carmel Clay Schools. She laughed as she recalled the time a large pot of Jello boiled over onto the floor.

“It was amazing,” she said. “We had such a mess to clean up!”

But Tickle’s fondest memory is the baking she used to do on the job.

“When I first started, we made the best dinner rolls in town, in my opinion,” she said. “I was in the back baking all the time, cookies, cakes, cobblers, everything.”

She made some fairly unorthodox desserts on a regular basis, such as pork-and-bean cake and prune cake.

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Lillian Tickle, right, helps make peanut butter candy bars at Carmel Elementary. (Submitted photo)

Tickle has witnessed many changes throughout her career, especially in the way that cafeteria food is prepared.

“There are many regulations now that we didn’t have back then,” she said.

After she retires May 31, Tickle plans to spend time visiting her son and daughter and volunteering at a local Methodist church.