Do you remember the old adage, “See a pin, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.”? At least I think that was the original wording. Somehow it changed when our children were young to “See a penny…”
For some reason I took that saying to heart, and all my life if I saw a penny, I’d pick it up no matter where I saw it. First I’d tuck in into my pocket for good luck until I forgot where it came from. Then I’d put it in my change purse, and finally I’d spend it.
My husband Bill, on the other hand, was more inclined to get rid of pennies. Maybe it had something to do with the idea that several pennies in his pants pockets weighed more heavily than the same pennies in my coin purse seemed to weigh.
Usually he’d off-load those coins onto a dresser and then they’d find their way to an empty jar until he decided he had enough to put them in rolls and take them to the bank, or in later years give them to a grandchild.
Most of the grandchildren are grown up enough now that pennies do not impress them very much, even when they are in rolls. They only seem to count in plastic Easter eggs because they do raise the total found. But now, along comes Sonny. At the age of half-past-two, he counts pennies as money.
He stopped in to visit us about a month ago with his aunt/babysitter. He reached in his pocket and pulled out five pennies, which he proudly showed me.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Money,” he told me. Apparently he didn’t think I was impressed quite enough, so he added, “My money!”
As he played and entertained us, he would occasionally pull out his money, look at it, and then sock it back into his pocket until he pulled it out and one penny was missing. He looked puzzled, checked his pocket again, did not find the errant coin, and proceeded to search intently for it, complaining loudly if not too plainly as he looked.
We found the lost penny and put it into his hand. He looked his little cache over, tucked it back into his pocket and then watched us suspiciously until it was time for him to leave.
Due to some family changes, I was forced to take another look at our guest room in recent weeks and dispose of what I consider some treasured collectibles or what my husband refers to as “that junk.” There I found a coffee jar full of pennies that had escaped being rolled. I put them aside, confident I’d find a use for them.
Last weekend Sonny arrived with his parents for a visit. He likes to go upstairs at our house, probably because there is no upstairs at his house. Once upstairs he loves to invade the rooms that have closed doors. I think the mystery intrigues him. His grandpa thinks he’s nosey.
He spotted a door usually closed that was open. He ran to enter. It was late, and I was getting tired of the chase. I spotted the jar of pennies, so I picked it up and shook it. He stopped in his tracks and listened. He looked at me and said, “Money?”
“Money!” I agreed and turned to go back downstairs. He was more than willing to accompany me down the steps.
Back in the living room I handed the penny jar to Grandpa. He looked at it as Sonny pointed to it and said, “Money!”
Grandpa handed Sonny the jar and said, “Sonny’s money.”
Our youngest grandson was fascinated as he took the jar and promptly opened it to dump the coins out on a footstool. We played with the pennies until it was time for him to go home. There really wasn’t a lot of money there, but we surely got a lot of entertainment out of it.
Just last week, for the first time in my life, I bypassed a penny I saw in a mud puddle in the street. Too much trouble to bend and pick it up. I won’t do that again. But I’ll never be too old to pass up the fun pennies can bring.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Feb. 22, 2006.