The Canadian years,20 peanut butter trade

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Friday 28 November 15:35


The turkey eater

It had snowed again, I woke up early, long before school time. It was still dark outside. I quietly walked up the stairs and cut out the light switch and the cellar was again shrouded in darkness. I picked up a glass and took a sip of water. Wiped my mouth dry because I did not want to suffer blisters through the freezing cold. I shot my jacket on and  wrapped my scarf twice around my neck. Most important was the cap. My Pooh bear cap, where the sides were flaps that could be folded over your ears. Your head should stay warm otherwise you lost your outer body heat. I quickly learned that the heat rises above your body through your head and it was very tough and cool not to wear a Pooh the bear hat, but then that you could count on ‘frostbite’, along the ear edges and your earlobes, just because of less blood ciculation. The choice was from 'cool' without the Pooh cap or go through life with light frozen ear edges, or cap, which would make you run about a week with open or itchy ears. If you had once experienced the effects of the wrong choice then you never had to choose again. You put on your cap and clapped the cowardly Peter the postman flaps over your ears.

I stepped out of the kitchen and through the second door  just behind it. Thermopane had not been invented yet and all the doors and windows were double. Outside each window were two hooks, and you hung your winter windows from there. Down at the bottom the window was secured with a hook and you had double glazing. By law, every house had two doors, in case of fire, I suppose. A front and a back door. You always walked through an air lock. The heat loss was minimal. From the shed I got the big broom and snow shovel. First the back path from the kitchen to the shed. I thought that would be used by my father and my brother and sister when they went to work. Their cars were already waiting obediently in a row, anchored to a power pole. Then I would do our own sidewalk up front, we could not be sued if someone broke his leg and then the sidewalks of my four customers. It gave me per sidewalk a guaranteed income of $ 5 per week, whether it snowed or not. Then I had to take care that their sidewalks were free of snow 7 days a week.


Eighty dollars a month was an incredible high, self-earned pocket money. It would have been a gold mine if I could have taken on more customers, but more customers just didn’t fit, given the time, before going to school. With a satisfied feeling that the sidewalks were clean, I walked back again, this time over a snow-free sidewalk to the back door and stepped through the gate into the kitchen. My sister was up, joyfully singing, she also always had a sunny mood. She had a big pile of bread ready for me to take to school. ‘Hey’, I said,’ not turkey again!’ Every employer gave around Christmas turkey to his employee. My sister and my dad and my brother had each been given a turkey. And I need to say that the 'university's' turkey was a little monster. My parents had both consciously experienced the war and we often had heard how hard it had been, and nothing was wasted, because in the war ......

I had been appointed as turkey devourer of the family, to devour our turkies, daily, in part. You could have a worse fate, you may think, but after a few weeks, of having turkey on your bread daily to school , you grow really tired of it. I was fortunately not the only one, my fellow schoolmates had met the same fate.  The boy who always had peanut butter and jam on his rolls, suddenly increased enormously in popularity. We offered all sorts of exchanges,  such as two turkey sandwiches for one peanut and jelly sandwich. I‘ve always, ever since, kept a love for that combination, "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,’ forever elevated to a delicacy.


My sister gave me a punishing look, ‘you know, how many people are suffering who have no food’ she said, ‘be happy that you are given turkey.’ ‘Does it help, if tomorrow I’ll put some mustard on as well?’ She was a treasure. ‘Yes, perhaps,’ I mumbled  feeling a little guilty. ‘Look,’ she said,’ maybe I still can stick a bit of lettuce in between and then it is just tasty food.’ It was a good sister and I was her little brother, for whom she felt responsible.

‘See you tonight,’ I said and walked out the door and disappeared towards school.


San Daniel 2014

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