One of the blogs I pop into occasionally is about coming of age in the town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Written by a gentleman named Ken Steinhoff. A few days ago he had a post that hit home for me. You can click here to see the complete post that the following excerpt is taken from.
“ We Steinhoff boys were raised on cinnamon sugar peanut butter toast made with raisin bread bought at the used bread store. Mother would go to the Bunny Bread outlet and buy loaves of the stuff, and turn out a dozen or so slices every morning.
What I remember more than the taste of the gooey stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth concoction was the sounds of its making. It would start out with the squeak of the springs in the oven door being pulled down. Then there was a clatter and crashing when Mother removed all the heavy pots and pans stored in the oven. That would be followed by a tiny sliding sound when she took out the warped and bent cookie sheet. She’d butter up as many slices of bread as the sheet would hold, then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on them, and stick them in the oven. Just as the sugar was beginning to bubble and, hopefully, before the toast would start to burn, she’d snatch it out of the stove and put a dollop of Peter Pan crunchy peanut butter on it.”
This post resonated with me. In our house, the bread came from the “Hostess” Day Old Bread Store in a neighboring town. Mom and one of my brothers would visit the store every few weeks and buy all the day old bread our car would hold. It was a bargain costing pennies on the dollar. What was not eaten within a reasonable time was fed to our hogs. Just as in this story, several cookie sheets full of bread slices went into the oven to be toasted most morning, but our slices were just plain old white bread. We didn’t have the luxury of raisins and our peanut butter came in big jars from government surplus that was passed out to all the poor folks in our county so it was a bit stale not crunchy. Mom would spread half the slices with butter and sprinkle it with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and the rest was smeared with peanut butter. I always tried to grab one of each so I could make it into a sandwich. The sugar made the peanut butter taste better and was less messy that way. Most mornings we barely had time to grab our slice or two as we headed for the door to make the long trek down the road to the bus stop. If we were lucky, there would still be a few slices on the tray for those that got through the door first after school. Yesterday morning I found myself toasting several slices of my favorite 12-grain bread and spreading on some peanut butter and strawberry jam. Hadn’t done that in ages. Last night I caught my hubby doing the same (said he saw what I did and gave it a try).Perhaps tomorrow I will add some sugar and cinnamon and make enough for both of us. I might even use the oven. Even in the poorest homes, good memories can abide.