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I was born in 1943 - the year the mint issued pennies made out of zinc because copper was scarce during the war. Now it issues pennies made out of who knows what because pennies would be worth far more as copper than they are as money. if it were not for political embarassment over inflation and cultural inertia we could pack it in and admit pennies have had their day. I won't bend over to retrieve a penny anymore; both a comment on their value and an appreciation of the fact i only have so many bend overs left and I pick my spots more carefully now.
Nickels are still worth it, but I sense the day coming when their value too will fall below the reward threshold and they may remain whereever they fall. Actually I have a fondness for nickles. As a child growing up in less structured times my friends and I had to find amusements on our own. One of these was to take a gunny sack and walk rural roads picking up beer and pop bottle, not for the environment, in those days we took the envirement for granted. We pipcked up those bottles for money. These were real bottles and they could be filled more than once. When we tired of the game we took our booty to the Edgecomb general stoere, cashed them in and invested the proceeds in candy.
The quart bottles were big sized here, worth a nickle each, standard pop bottles brought two cents each and beer bottles were a mere penny. There were many beer bottles and a number of regular pop bottles but very few quart size. Finding onewas a source of great excitement and I could just feel that nickle in my hand and saliva would fill my mouth in anticipation. Yeah. I'm still fond of nickels but I no longer drool over them - wouldn't admit it if I did.
My father never added bottles to the harvest along the roads. He never would have thrown a bottle out the window and never drannk soda pop anyway. Neither did my grandfather who wouldn't have littered either even if he drive, which eh didn't. Actually he drove a horse cart but after they buried Old Baldy the cart was kinda useless and it moldered away in the woods all through my childhood. Now they did share a beer on arre occassions, the occassion being when we had crab for dinner. I can't be sure if these occassions were so rare because crab was expensive or because Mom didn't like dad to drink. But when a crab dinner came around my Dad and my Mother's Dad would each open a beer and discuss politics.
My Father was a Roosevelt democrat or maybe a little further left than that. He also wasa closet atheist which I must have picked up by osmosis since it was never discussed at all though my Mother was a Methodist with just a whiff of animism. It all came out with her in good works. Somehow I got the idea that religion was something women tended to while men watched sports - or at least they did after we got our TV. My Grandfather .had some religion, I guess, but mainly he was a republican - not a modern earth-raping Republican but a Lincoln Republican who came from a long line of abolishionists and would talk of a great uncle who took a minnie ball in the gut during the Civil War. He still thought the Republicans were the party of social progress. For all that, a good man who kept his dark moods to himself and gave his light ones to each and all.
It was my Grandfather who enabled my coin collecting. When he got his social security check from Rooselevlt, he would buy me eight rolls of pennies, which I carefully arranged in rows by date and mint. Some rows were short and some were long, reflecting the relative abundance of each issue. After some time I had a magnificent array of gleaming copper that looked like a stock market graph. At least it was a gleaming array save at one point near the middle where it was defiled by a crude grey slash - a brutish sword stroke of base metal coins from 1943 - the year I was born.
Stay Tuned for this continuing saga.....................