My Family (a long time ago)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Found Money

I decided to do a load of laundry the other day, and as usual, I checked the pockets of the pants to make sure there was nothing in them. When I check pockets I find things like gum wrappers, miscellaneous pieces of paper, earrings, even used Q-tips. Sometimes I find some money, usually change, but once in a while I find a dollar or, hold the phone, a five dollar bill! Any money I find is mine. On this particular day, I found two quarters in one of my own pair of pants.

I know you’re probably thinking something like, “Big deal, 50 cents. That can’t buy you anything these days.” Well, maybe if you’re a glass-is-half-empty person, you’d be thinking like that. But if you’re a glass-is-half-full person, you might be thinking something like, “Bonus! I got something for nothing!” That’s kind of how I felt, even if it was my own pants. That was money I didn’t know I had. And you just never know when you’re going to need a little change. Here in Massachusetts if you buy something for $5.00, the tax on it will be $.31, and you’ll be glad you have those two quarters. Who wants a pocket full of change when you can use the few coins you have and only get a couple more back? Who wants to sound like the school janitor with his 57 keys jangling on his ring as he walks around the hallways? Not me.

When I was a kid, we walked to school from first grade up through eighth grade and we’d occasionally find some money while going to and from school. I don’t know why, luck I guess, but we usually found money on the way home. Sometimes it was nickel or a dime, and sometimes we’d find a quarter. Before you start thinking, “So what?” let me tell you what a quarter used to be like. A quarter back in the early 1970’s was a gold mine for a kid. How? A measly 25 cents would buy you not just a candy bar, but a can of soda as well. That’s right, 25 cents would buy you a Snickers Bar and a Pepsi; or a bag of M&M’s and a Mountain Dew; or a Snickers Bar and a bag of M&M’s with a nickel left over. That’s what one quarter would get you, so imagine what two quarters got you, or what the Holy Grail of found money, a whole dollar, would get you! If you found a dollar, everyone around you was suddenly your best friend.

When we found money we’d go to Walt’s Sunoco, a local gas station/car repair shop, because there were candy and soda machines inside. The owner also raced cars and had a hot rod there sometimes, which we could look at and look into, but not touch. We thought he was just about the coolest guy! When we went in to get our food and drink, he’d ask us how we were doing in school and tell us to keep studying. If he was in an especially good mood, he’d give us some stickers for our notebooks, usually STP or Raybestos. We didn’t know what those were, but they sure were cool stickers – and no one else at school had them. So out we’d go, candy bar in one hand and soda in the other, feeling like we were on top of the world. 

We’d take our time going home, laughing and talking about what we’d do with our next big score, all the while scouring the ground for more cash. Anything that was round, shiny or both was pounced on, examined and then pocketed or tossed away. Nickels, dimes, quarters, it didn’t take much to make a young guy happy. Not when you were sharing candy and soda with your brother and best friends. Who says a quarter isn’t worth much?

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