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The Peanut-Butter Caper

Updated on February 9, 2011

Punishment or the Peanut Butter Caper !

It was late in the summer of 1941; World War II was raging across Europe in full force. Most of the schools were closed. Life according to Dad 'sucked'. People in the big cities were panicking.The stores were empty and food was scarce. Everybody seemed to be hungry all the time.

There was very little work for adults let alone teenage boys. All who had work were getting paid daily as no-one knew what would happen by the next day. Would the workplace still be standing or have been reduced to rubble over night?

Shortly before the war started Granddad (Dad's Dad)had been promoted to Post-master and he had moved the whole family to live permanently to their summer home; Orchard Cottage.The name of their home explains it all. It was an old brick house set on a twenty-six acre lot and had been in the family forever; and had been Grandma's inheritance.

Except for the tasty stone hard 'gut ache creating' green apples, the fruit in the orchard was not yet ripe enough to eat. There was the kitchen garden full of summer squash, spinach, and beans etc. All the good for you vegetables a thirteen year old boy didn't particularly wanted to eat (but did because eitheryou ate it or you went hungry).

Dad was absolutely infatuated with airplanes, and as the school was closed, spent most of his time at the airport with, Jancsi and Ferko, his two best mates. (Instead of weeding the veggie garden). The American air force had commandeered this small private countryside airport.The way Dad told his tale it really wasn't much of an airport, just a bumpy overgrown runway with an old Barn converted into a hangar that in normal days had housed half a dozen small airplanes. It had an office and most importantly the top of the line short wave radio set up. All of this belonging to some cousin or other from Grandma's side of the family, as most of the small town did.

The Americans really liked the location of the town as it was only a hundred or so kilometers northwest of Budapest. There was no major industry nor any noticeable landmarks near-by; which made it easier to camouflage most of the area around the airstrip.

Supposedly it had been only a small battalion of soldiers that were staying nearby the airport. Their duties were to receive air-shipments and then to move all the necessary equipment and food stuffs by road to the other battalions scattered throughout the area. The soldiers by now knew Dad and his two side-kicks by now and good-natured put up with the three teenagers being underfoot on a daily bases. The boys wanted nothing more than to see and learn all there was to know about airplanes etc. and to help unloading, schlepping and stacking stuff. (which also gave them a few pennies worth of earnings). At the end of the cargo stacking party the soldiers not only gave the boys some trading valuables for their effort but they also fed them a good meal.

As the story be told, the larger than usual cargo plane lands; the back-end doors get opened, the giant-sized quarter-master named Stan motioned the three boys to get started with the unloading as it had to be done as fast as possible. He himself has to help pull the camouflage screening over the nose-bit that's hanging out of the hangar .

The boys and the unloading soldier crew are sweating as they hurry to pull off all the equipment. Less than 1½ an hour later the last of the crates is piled precariously over to the side.

Stan and the rest of the crew hurriedly readied the plane for take-off. During this time the top-most crate crashed to the ground spilling its five gallon-sized cans of peanut-butter. One blew open spilling some of its great smelling content.

The boys looked around a little worried but their growling stomachs won the battle . Peanuts butter was not something they were familiar with as it was not a staple in Hungary and they had never tasted it before but it sure smelled good enough to eat.

Each of them tried a small little glob on their finger first...hmmm tastes good. They decided that it was worth a bigger scoop next...Oh-oh there was Stan starring at them angrily...and there just was no way of even pretending that they hadn't swiped some...they couldn't swallow the mess in their mouths fast enough and their sorries just sounded like garbelled grunts...

Stan called for one of the soldiers who was in charge of the kitchen. By now the boys were really, really worried. They looked at each other thinking that this might be the last time they saw each other...

The cook lifted the blown can off the ground and motioned for the boys to follow him. He led them to the small camouflage-netted mess tent just by the hangar doors. He motioned for the boys to sit down at cleanly scrubbed table.

Stan had followed them into the mess tent and stood in front of the boys with the most menassing glare. Dad recalls Stan to have been a huge-humongous-armoired-sized man. The rest of the crew that has assembled all around looked as grimy and wrinkled as the boys themselves were. Whereas Stan even after having taken more than his fair share of the unloading still looked all 'militarish' his uniform still looked clean and tidyand crisp. Stan was quite scary actually as he growled at the boys in a deep cutting voice. ".....stealing from the US air force is unacceptable and punishable by a jail term of no less than five years......Do you boys understand the severity of your situation? I'm not quite sure how to handle this". I (Stan)being a fair man who understands that you boys are owed for the heavy work you have done unloading the plane today. Here is what we're going to do. He (Stan) would go finish his job which would take a little more than an hour and if by that time the evidence of the open peanut butter can had disappeared without a trace, he (Stan) would have to accept that there was a mistake made in the counting of the inventory before it was shipped... but only as a favor for work well done today and in the past......" Dad, Jancsi and Ferko were quite taken-a-back by this what seemed to be their lucky break. Even at that, Dad was wondering why Stan had this wicked grin on his face as he left the Mess Tent. Behind them on the table was THE giant can. The cook handed each a big wooden spoon and then left to fetch a big pitcher of water with three mugs also wearing a grin from ear to ear... "You better hurry boys" he said "Stan is not someone you want to mess with especially when you were caught stealing form the US army". It took the boys only ten minutes to figure out the reason for the wicked grins. The first tastes of the Peanut-butter were quite good but a little goes a long way. Thirty minutes into their time they were only half way down the can and they were gagging and already so full they felt they would explode... the cook came by with fresh water to refill their cups. "Hurry now boys you're more than half way passed your time and still half left in the can". The others from the unloading crew had assembled and were trying to cheer the boys on, while shaking their heads saying in their broken Hungarian that they sure should be going to jail, after all stealing food... Stan is gone soft in the head for even suggesting such...

As the story unfolds Dad, Jancsi and Ferko didn't go to jail. They polished off the five gallon vat of peanut butter. All three didn't go back to the airstrip for a while as they were sicker than dogs... They had not told their parents about almost becoming jail-birds. It wasn't for years that Grandma spilled the beans about Stan visiting each of the parents and explaining why and what he had done to scare the be-jeepers out of the teenagers... Naturally each set of parents applauded Stan's tactics.

Even years later Dad, confessed that he would never want to eat anything to do with peanuts ever again.

The war ended. Dad grew up, he met and married Mom they had cutey little me. The revolution drove us out of Hungary. For twelve years in Belgium, there was no such thing available as peanut-butter, as it wasn't a well known substance there either. (Then) We came to Canada August of 1969, the first trip to the grocery store in Midland, what do you see a four foot section of shelves from floor to ceiling full of all the different peanut-butter name brands. Kraft, Jiff.... crunchy, extra crunchy, smooth with chocolate swirls

mixed and whipped with honey...What do you think Dad does? He buys three

different types and forever renames peanut butter as *Punishment * . Dad was so excited about his jars of peanut butter he didn't even help lug-in the many paper sacs of groceries. He headed straight for the kitchen his jars in one arm and a loaf of fresh bread in the other....HMMM...good...

I guess when it's peanut butter one can be a sucker for punishment.............


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    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Storytellersrus, thanks for visiting.

      This was one of my favourite stories that I got Dad to retell me over and over as a little girl.

      Hope you and the family are well

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      9 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Zsuzsy, I saw your comment on an art hub and thought, Zsuzsy Bee! Haven't read any of your stuff in a while! So I found this fun hub. I do not really understand why the boys should have been punished in such a way, though. The can popped open, the peanut butter was exposed... Was it their fault? They stacked it precariously? Well, weren't they pressed to do things fast? I suppose they should have asked before sticking their fingers inside the can, eh?

      I remember government peanut butter. We used to get it at camp, when I was a counselor. The kids were mostly inner city, low income. That peanut butter was more delicious than the average peanut butter! Or maybe it was that any food NOT made in the kitchen was super delicious, haha. Anyway, a very fun read. You have a colorful history.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      12 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Ladybird33, thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Ladybird33 profile image


      12 years ago from Fabulous USA

      I love peanut butter and this was an aswesome story! It's great to meet you and I loved your profile!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Princessa! thanks for visiting. And your comment.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      13 years ago from France

      I loved the story... amazing, and I just got a sudden urge for peanut butter and home made strawberry jam...

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      ripplemaker! Thanks for visiting. regards Zsuzsy

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      13 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Oh I love peanut butter Zsuzsy Bee. And what a cute story. It made me really smile. Thanks for sharing. Now my tummy is growling...I better go and eat peanut butter. Want some? :-)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks Rhym for taking a look. regards Zsuzsy

    • Rhym O'Reison profile image

      Rhym O'Reison 

      13 years ago from Crowley, Tx

      I agree, a GREAT story. Thanks for sharing.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for visiting 'invited writer.

      This was one of my fave stories that I got Dad to retell me over and over as a little girl.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      13 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      What a great story.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks CGull! I appreciate the encouraging comments. You are all so great for my ego.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • cgull8m profile image


      13 years ago from North Carolina

      I agree with Marye it will make a great book. The family will love this and treasure this. Well done.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Abhinaya! You don't think it would be too much if all of my families escapades would be in one collective book??? I'm thinking of trying to get them published.

      Thank you very much for coming for a visit.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image


      13 years ago

      ZB you are amazing.PB is available in India too.But never tried it.The story has lots to offer.Thanks for sharing.Are you writing a book as Patty says? If so I will be the first one to read it.GREAT HUB!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Sally! I'm glad you came by to check out my hub.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Patty! Thanks for taking a look and your kind comment.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      13 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I love your story, especially the punch line. As a kid, I never wanted the bread with the PB. I'd just stick my finger in the jar and hope no one noticed. But a pint jar is not a five-gallon can. UGH!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      13 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      This is a great story and I think your book will be very well received.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Hi! Isabella! Is Peanut-butter still not readily available in Europe??? It's reversed for me here. Growing up in Belgium Sugar-Beet-Kraut was a staple for kids to spread onto their sandwiches. I can't find it here in Canada...Still it's even possible that I have made it something tastier in my head over the years, and actually tasting it now would be a diappointment.

      I'm always glad when you stop over for a visit. regards Zsuzsy

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 

      13 years ago

      Ha! I get really excited when I see Skippy over here.. I don't think I've seen JiFF in ages.. they just don't like it over here!! I love it!! Good hub, Zuz, very funny!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile imageAUTHOR

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      13 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      rmr! Thanks for taking a look and your comment.

      Steph! Thank you, glad you came by for a visit.

      Froggy! Thank you for stoping by. I might have a sandwich too.

      Marye! I'm working on a book that will include all my families escapades. Thank you for your kind words.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Marye Audet 

      13 years ago

      Zsuzy, this is wonderful. You need to write your memoirs.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 

      13 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      What a GREAT story!I think I will have a peanut butter sandwich!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      13 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      FUN! I loved this! You have quite a knack for story-telling!

    • rmr profile image


      13 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Another great story Zsuzsy. Your family seems to have a great wealth of experience and anecdotes. I love reading about them.


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