The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Kid stuff
Sometimes, the oddest things can trigger childhood memories. Today, it's peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

My sister and I lived off peanut butter and jam sandwiches when we were kids. Like most kids, my sister and I preferred the taste of peanut butter and jam to just about anything else, except perhaps fried bologna or bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, which were expensive in comparison.

In the summer, we would beg my mother to pack us a picnic lunch so that we could eat outside. Being the energetic kids that we were, we managed to get half way through our sandwich and apple before we were itching to run around again. But what to do with the sandwich? Easy solution - toss the half eaten sandwich and apple into the next door neighbor's bushes. I don't know if we ever thought about what would happen to the sandwiches, once disposed of in this way. It just seemed like the best place to hide them.

One day, my mother got a call from the neighbor, who reported on her peanut butter and jam bushes. Fortunately, she was a good natured woman whom we all adored, and she and my mother had a laugh over it. Of course, my sister and I were scolded and admonished never to throw half eaten food away like that again. I don't think we ever got any more summer picnics, either.

So, the next summer, I decided that I would become a hobo, like Bucky the little beaver in Tales from Schroon Lake, which is a real place in the Adirondak mountains, near where I grew up. I looked around for a stout stick and a large kerchief that I could tie my few belongings in, and packed, what else but a couple of peanut butter and jam sandwiches in my pack. I was certain that these sandwiches would sustain me for a couple of days, and I was off on one of my adventures.

The adventure consisted of wandering down to the creek and wandering along to a point that the creek became wide and shallow. The neighborhood kids all loved to play there. It was an idyllic spot where one could dig for crayfish or swing on the low hanging willow tree branches. Those were the days that kids didn't have to worry about predators looking for unattended young 'uns.

I seriously wanted to build a camp fire (by rubbing two sticks together, like I'd seen in the TV Westerns I loved to watch; I could never figure out why it never worked for me,) and stay long after dark, but I didn't want to get in trouble with my mother who had a rule: you have to come in when the street lights come on. So, at dusk, I headed back with dirt on my face, hands and clothes, and muddy sneakers. I still had a sandwich left over. There's no time to eat when you're having an adventure in the woods.

So, I tossed it into the bushes. For all I know, it still lies there, a petrified artefact of a bygone day.


posted by Melanie O. at 10:52 AM -
  • At 8:49 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    The name of the nice neighbor was Jean Jackson...lady with the peanut butter sandwich bush. Jean was a great animal lover.
    I was outside, sweeping the steps, when what should cross my lawn, but a shaved cat in an undershirt. I was so surprised that I started to laugh. The cat knew it looked rediculous, skulking around with its ears back and eyes swinched up. Who knew that cats wore underwear under their fur coats? more laughing. Unbeknownest to me, Jean had a friend who had a long haired orange cat. When you petted it, it drooled. The friend decided that she didn't want to bother with her orange cat. She would feed him, but he had to stay outside. Over time, His long hair became very matted. Jean saw this and felt sorry for the kitty. She asked her friend, if she could have the cat. She got the cat and took him to her vet. His coat was a mess. The vet said that he could not groom that coat. He would cut it off and Jean could comb him as his new coat grew in. Jean took the cat home and kept him indoors. After a time, the cat had to go outside to pee, so Jean cut a sleeve off her husband's old tee shirt and put it on the cat to keep him warm. Then she let him out the door and that is what I saw that sent me into peels of laughter. I wish I had a picture to show you, but I don't.

  • At 12:44 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    I remember Mrs Jackson well. I used to love to go over to see her, where she would tell me stories about how hard ballet lessons were (I confessed to wanting to be a ballerina at one time.) The cat was either Buttons or Frisky. I think it was Buttons. I used to love to go over there and play with the cats. I may even have a picture of Buttons with her daughter in law.

  • At 5:02 AM, Blogger Anthony said…

    Grandma Elle told the story of the peanut butter sandwich bush at my mom and Don's wedding. That sounds like a great memory.

    I, too, attempted to "run away from home" with a little handkerchief tied to a stick like you see in old movies and cartoons. I also tried to build a fire with two sticks to no avail. I think one would have to rub them together vigorously for successful results.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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