A few days ago I was walking with a friend when she found a penny and picked it up. She told me that when she finds a penny, she picks it up and looks at the date. She then reflects on that year and the things that had happened that had relevance to her life. Okay, whatever.
I was used to picking up pennies for good luck, and had even heard that if the penny was laying tail-side up, then picking it up could bring bad luck. Not that I believed in that much. A penny is a penny and worth just as much heads or tails up, so I generally pick up coins of any denomination. But this was the first time I heard about reflecting on the penny’s date of issue.
A few days later, I passed several pennies on the ground. I was in a hurry and there were a lot of people around so I did not stop to pick them up – but the next day, when I passed that spot, one of those pennies was still there. I picked it up and looked at the date. It was the year of my high-school graduation (we really don’t have to concern ourselves with the actual date, do we)?
I carried the penny for a few moments, reflecting on that year, before slipping it into my pocket. Graduation day was also the day of the choir picnic. We had spent the day at the beach, feasting on Kentucky Fried Chicken (nowadays they just call it KFC) and christening the choir director’s balding pate with soda-pop.
Of course, on the way home, the car I was driving (dad’s van, his pride and joy) broke down, stranding me and everyone driving with me. A long afternoon of guessing what was wrong, tow trucks, bent drive shafts and other headaches left me with the prospect of lengthy explanations to my dad, expensive car repairs and being late for graduation. My friend was hardly speaking to me because she wanted to wash, dry and set her hair for the event.
I took a shower when I got home and resigned myself to attending the ceremony with wet hair and a pair of cut off shorts that would not stay buttoned. At least I would have a robe over them for the ceremony. After that, I hardly cared.
When dad got home from work he looked at me, bewildered, and asked where the van was. I told him what had happened and where the car was, at a gas station 20 miles away from home. I fully expected to be blamed for the mishap and even to be expected to pay for the damage caused by the tow service. Instead dad floored me by merely saying “oh” and “I guess we’ll have to go pick it up tomorrow”.
That is when I finally broke down. Now that I knew there were to be no yelling or recrimination, I was able to let go. Dad watched for a moment then said “you need a drink” and went to prepare one for me (people of my age were legal at that time and in that place). It was my first sanctioned drink at home – a bourbon and water on the rocks. I am sure it helped.
Soon, my friend arrived in her dad’s red convertible (we knew exactly how to assign the chauffeur service, the right vehicle for the occasion) and arrived at the high-school in style, our hair air-dried and wind-blown. I remember little else about the ceremony except that my shorts would not stay buttoned and the principal mispronounced my name. Typical. There were a few other notable occasions that year – my first date with my now husband and a presidential election among them.
It was interesting to take that trip down memory lane, inspired by the date on a penny. I will keep an eye out for future coins and future remembrances. Maybe I’ll let you know about them, too.
Quotable Quotes; in the category Look What A Penny Can Do!
"To attract good fortune, spend a new penny on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon."