Shiny Penny

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Shiny Penny

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Shiny Penny

© 2014, Olan L. Smith

I remember my Mother teaching me to save coins, a silly thing to remember right now with all the things going on in my life, and in the world.  But there it is, bright and coppery in my mind's eye, and my mother is sorting through the coins at work at the end of the day.  She stops, pulls two one-cent pieces aside and says, "Olan, this is a brand new penny."  The date on the coins were 1958, 1959, and I am six years old.  She flips the two coins over.  "This is the Lincoln Cent, and the government has changed the reverse side.  See this older coin how the patina is slight worn it has wheat ears on the backside, the new one has the Lincoln Memorial."  She picks up the new coin, places it in her purse, and puts an older coin in its place ― outdoors a leaf drops from a tree. 

I turn and ask, "Mom, why did they change the coin?"

She replies, "I am not sure, they just did and that makes it collectible." (Over 1 billion minted that year but she is blissfully unaware, it is shiny).  "When we arrive home I will show you my coin collection."  Once home she carefully pressed the shiny penny in the coin book and closed it.  I still have that collection, and it is not worth much; Mom liked shiny, not rare.  What was new is now old, it doesn't matter if it is shiny or not.  My young eyes once sparkled at the sight of the coin, and the years keep piling on as the patina dims, and the once new Studebaker my brother owned is now a collectible.   Am I that old that things in my youth are now prized?  If only I knew back then what to collect.  The year keep turning over, leaves fall to the ground and magically return in the spring.  I look through old newspaper clippings and photos from 1912 of Grandma's graduation, the hair styles were wild. I look at old photographs of me in my teens and wonder why on earth I wore those clothes, or combed my hair like I did.  Turn the clock and there is Grandma with her friends in college, they are so young.  Five girls sitting in the grass drinking sodas bent over like they are puffing on bongs.  Grandmother, youthful? Unimaginable.  Turn the page, sip wine, and pour on the years.

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