A Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Story
More columns
written by John:
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail John at
Mana for the carving - part two
Dispatch from the education trenches
Dinner at Darth's
Monkey Business
If you have seen one Sarah Palin, you have seen them all
What a Maroon
The uninvited guest
Father Reagan's Children
Vigilance and Vengeance
John Nippolt
Wage Wars
Volleyed and Thundered
Taking it to the Streets
          To this day, few things make me happier than eating the food I’ve been making for myself since I was a little kid. Yeah, I’m an older guy, but hey, it doesn’t mean I can’t still love and savor the most traditional and particularly American taste treat that there ever was; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
          To be sure, I have more than two good peanut butter and jelly sandwich stories, but this tale took place at the very beginning. I was in the first grade. I was six years old.
          I had won some kind of drawing competition that got me a ticket to a special movie matinee. There would be winning artists from every class at my school: grades one through eight. The award ceremony would begin with a potluck meal and afterward we would go to a Saturday afternoon movie at the nearby Santé Fe Theater. 
          It had been announced that winners and their families would come to the school cafeteria for a lunch. Both my parents worked 
Saturdays which meant I would be going by myself. This didn’t really bother me and I actually preferred it. Even at this age, I was a pretty free spirit. 
          I was well into my Saturday morning routine watching “Laurel and Hardy” and the “Little Rascal” comedies on television. My mom poked her head into the living room and asked me what I wanted to take to the luncheon. 
          I was ready with my order.
          “Five peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, please.” 
          That was a lot of sandwiches! She looked at me with one of those all-knowing Mom looks and turned back into the kitchen.
          When it was time for me to go, my Mom handed me the paper sack and I opened it to get a whiff of ‘the smell’. Yep, that was it; I rolled the bag closed and carried it off to my school. It had just the right weight to it. A little kid knows those kinds of things.
          I hurried up west 20th street, turned left at Santé Fe Avenue, which bordered Admiral Kidd Park, and kept moving until I was one block past the theater. I was there. I drifted into the cafeteria about the same time as everybody else, except that the other kids were with their families and most of them had arrived in cars. 
          This didn’t make me feel uncomfortable though; I was happy with the knowledge that I really enjoyed the adventures I got into when I walked around by myself. There was only one way to look at it; I may have been alone, but I had those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
          I still smile at the irony of the situation and how all those kids behaved that afternoon. Their parents came with every kind of sandwich in the world: Bacon, lettuce and tomato, roast beef, bologna, tuna, egg salad, avocado, ham and cheese, spit in the ocean. You name it, it was there. 
          It didn’t seem strange to me that most of the kids didn’t want to eat the sandwiches the adults brought. They turned up their noses while their parents tried to persuade them to eat. All eyes were on me as I opened my sack and with it, the smell of peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches.
          It didn’t take long for my friends to start making their way over to where I was sitting to see if they could make an exchange. They tried everything to convince me that I would be getting the better deal. “Just take a bite, you’ll see.”
          The whole time they begged me to trade “only one” of mine for theirs. It didn’t make any difference to them that I knew what kind of sandwiches kids really liked. 
          Of course, I’d already eaten one earlier, stopping at Admiral Kidd Park, before I got to school. Also, I promised one to my good pal, Tommy Thompson, a boy in my class. I might have traded one of my sandwiches if I had more of them, but I needed one for lunch, one for the movie, and for sure there must be one left for the walk home. 
          I remember the urgency in their little voices, pleading. 
          “C’mon, please? You’re not going to eat all of them by yourself are you? Please?”.....
The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers