Contraband Smuggling? Oh My!!!

Contraband Smugglers? Criminals? Oh my!

Let me set the scene. It's the middle of the summer of 1963. The train from Budapest, Hungary rolls into the station in Eupen, Belgium.

An old couple loaded down with really odd looking luggage get off. Look again, that's not luggage he's carrying, no he's carrying two ten gallon buckets, obviously full and heavy because the old man is moving really slow.

That's not just any old couple, no those two are Grandma and Grandpa (Dad's Mom and Dad) come to stay with us for the next ten weeks.

As we didn't have a car yet Dad had arranged with Mr Zimmerman to go to the Train Depot to collect his parents. After a lot of pouting from me and coaxing from Mom, I was allowed to go too. Mr Zimmerman, needed to do a delivery on the way, from his furniture store. I was squished in the back of the small duck-shit-yellow delivery van; in middle of the most god-awful bedroom set.

Lucky we were in the 'scheise-mobile' because it almost looked as if Grandma and Grandpa were planning on staying with us forever. The porter kept piling and piling their luggage onto one of those trolley-pushey-thingys. However Grandpa wouldn't let go of the buckets. He insisted on carrying them to the vehicle even when Dad offered to take them. He said the buckets gave him even momentum, whatever that meant...

Soon we arrived home, and again Grandad reached for the buckets but Papa beat him to them. We lived in the "penthouse" (doesn't that just sound snazzy?) three floors over the furniture store. He just would not let Grandpa take those heavy buckets. Too many stairs to climb.

By now I was absolutely dying of curiocity. What on earth was in those buckets??? Finally even if it was considered rude , I wanted to know...

I asked Grandpa, he smiled and said it was a surprise for Mom and Dad and me too. Man-oh-man, nothing can be worse than telling a nosey kid there was a surprise and the kid had to wait till the grown-ups had their coffee and homemade sugared doughnuts that Mom had made as a surprise. (Under normal conditions I loved those doughnuts, they were my favourites).

At long last Mr.Zimmerman left. Not only had the adults had coffee but also had dented one of the bottles of Hungarian ‘Palinka' supposedly some kind of stuff that was a "hundred proof" (maybe only eighty) whatever...

"Grandma what's in those buckets?" I asked? "Please tell me". She opened her mouth to tell me, I'm sure, when there was a knock on the door...The people from downstairs came to welcome our guests with a beautiful chocolate kugel coffee-cake...

Out came the coffee pot again, and eventually the dented bottle became a fallen soldier, who gave his existence for the good of mankind. Grandpa had to prove that ‘Palinka‘, Hungaries national booze was smoother than anything else in the world. The downstairs neighbour disagreed; He left and momentarily returned with a bottle big enough to have its own tidal occurrences in it. He insisted that his Cseckoslovakian 'slivovitz' (booze made from plums) was better. The number of visitors kept swelling and all the chairs and couch seats were soon full-up. I impatiently waited and waited for my surprise.

"Bed-time Zsuzsy, go say good-night to everyone, and then go wash-up" Mom told me. "But Mohhhhm I want to know what..." I stoped in mid sentence becaue I was getting THE look. "Ahhhhll right...Night everyone". Grown-ups were a weird bunch I thought. They were getting louder, everything seemed funnier to them, as that water-like substance they kept pouring into thimble sized glasses was disappearing fast.

Grandma came to tuck me in; naturelly this was not an opportunity to let slip past "What's in the buckets Grandma???" I asked again. "We'll look at all the stuff tomorrow...Aunt Marica and cousin Kati sent you a surprise go to sleep and I'll see you in the morning. Goodnight...

Pow! Between the eyes; another surprise to agonize over...I'll never get to sleep...zzzzzzzzzzz.

You would not believe what was in those buckets. One was filled to the brim with Home-made Apricot jam. Harvested from their own tree. Even though they all lived in the heart of Budapest, the family owned an orchard property of a few acres. All shared the work and also the harvested goodies. Bucket number two(not for a million years would anyone be able to guess) was filled with "toek". A certain type of squash pulp used in some Hungarian dishes. (Toek foselek) It was not something people in Belgium ate therefore was not available in Belgium (thank the Lord for small favours) Grandma insisted it was something Dad just loved. Yum... lets have some tonight for supper and tomorrow for breakfast and for the rest of our days. There was enough of that goop in that bucket to use as wallpaper paste to cover half the town. (Dad, didn't have the heart to let grandma know that he only ate that stuff with such gusto during the war because he had been hungry; not because it had been his favourite).

Then also what kind of a surprise is that for a child; you ask? I asked myself that same question while I helped 'jar' the apricot jam (not that it wasn't good jam; possibly the best ever) but still a big let down...

Dad for many years to come fell apart laughing whenever any-one mentioned squash.

Can you imagine today, at this day and age traveling from Hungary through Austria, through Germany into Belgium with big buckets of stuff?????? and then guarding it as if it was some type of deep secret contraband.

It is a different world today...

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Comments 17 comments

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 5 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author, thank you for taking a look and for commenting

regards Zsuzsy profile image 5 years ago

great story - I can almost taste the apricot jam


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Thanks Maren for visiting and your comment. It is really weird I've been in this nostalgia plastered mood for the past couple of years and some-days a smell or something I read will trigger some old situation to come to the forefront of my mind.

regards Zsuzsy

Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 8 years ago from Pennsylvania

Absolutely lovely the way you remember your feelings and impressions as a child. thanks for the big smile I have now!

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Cgull Thanks for taking a look

regards Zsuzsy

cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

Too bad we can't get this stuff in the US, maybe in New York it might be available. My grandparents also used to bring lots of goodies, I loved to have them. Now it is quite different, it has become Mechanical relationships. They were genuine, didn't do for any particular reason just love.

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Gabriella! Of course feel free to read my stories to your little one. It will serve two purposes the old memories get aired an extra time and also You spend some extra, extra time with the little one.

Thanks for taking a look

regards Zsuzsy

Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 9 years ago

Yeah, the Czechs could drive their Skodas on that stuff, lol. Happy Holidays to you, too! :)

gabriella05 profile image

gabriella05 9 years ago from Oldham

Great story, enjoyed very much I hope you don't mid I have printed to read it to my girl

Thank you very much for sharing

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Isabella! I had some two weeks ago when some friends and I had a pre-Christmas celebration. One of the couples is originally from Prague and brought a big bottle. I think the inside layer of my throat has disintegrated...I won't ever have any more (till next year...)

Happy Holidays to you Isabella

regards Zsuzsy

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Omdelhi, Manoharv thanks for taking a look

regards Zsuzsy

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Thanks for your comments everyone! MrM. ...about obedience...once you got THE LOOK there really was no alternative but do as you were told.


Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 9 years ago

Slivovice is seriously strong stuff!! I just had some a few days ago.. jezis maria.. !! Nice hub Zuzka!

omdelhi profile image

omdelhi 9 years ago from New Delhi

Amazing. Thanx for sharing.

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

What amazed me ZsuzsyBee was your perfect obedience. Such majestic control.It was worth reading, to see such obedience.

Thank you

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada Author

Compu-smart! Thanks for taking a look.

regards Zsuzsy

compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 9 years ago from London UK

I loved this heart warming story Zsuzsy:) Your right, things are soo different today unfortunetly!

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