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Family Time; One roll at a time.



I wonder if anyone else did this as a kid...

For as long as I've been able to remember my mother kept an old piggy-bank in her room that was made to look like a mailbox. It didn't lock itself; instead it had a little tiny padlock with a tiny key that she kept hanging on the wall on a Marvin the Martian key chain (Marvin was her favorite Looney Toon). She'd put tons of change from her (massive) purse (which we always complained must literally have bricks in it.. but no, mostly coins...) into the mailbox. Every couple of months she'd take the mailbox, open it, roll up all the coins and deposit them at the bank. I used to watch her roll those coins, but she'd always pull out the old ones and put them to one side... those would not go to the bank (I had no clue why though).

As I got just a little older and I was starting to learn how to count she let me start helping her. She taught me how to count them. You take 5 coins and make a little stack. Then you take 5 more, make another stack, and put that stack next to the first. When you have 8 stacks of quarters or nickels, or 10 stacks of pennies or dimes, you have a roll.

She'd ask sometimes "Do you want to go get the mailbox and help me roll up the coins?" I would agree and run down the hall to get it. Even then this was great fun to me. I'd spend the next hour or so counting and rolling coins with her. I'd always need to check for wheaties or old coins and put them to one side. I'd sometimes ask, "why do we keep these?" The response was usually along the lines of "because they're old," "because they don't make those anymore," or "because they're special." Again, this goes back further than I can clearly remember. You don't have to be able to count very well to count to 10. That's all I needed to do, and I was helping Mom.

As I got a little older the game expanded. We would have competitions to see who could roll faster or who could roll more. We would segregate all the coins and estimate, "so how many rolls do you think that is?" We would finish counting and she'd ask, "so how much do we got?" I'd count up all the rolls and all the loose remainders and tell her the amount. She'd do the same. We'd compare numbers and figure out who was right if we disagreed. As I got older (and her eyes got worse) she started to ask me "what's the date on this one?" ... "That's easy, Mom. Wow, your eyes must really stink." :p ... "Just tell me what the date is."

When we were done we'd always put the coins in a money bag to take to the bank, my mother would thank me and then kiss me on the cheek.

I never got tired of spending this time with my mother.

A year or two ago I got really into getting $25 boxes of pennies from the bank and searching through them for old dates (and pulling out the odd Canadian cent as I went). The major goal was just to fill up some Whitman folders with all the memorial cents (and the odd wheatie I might find to fill a hole). I'd also sometimes build penny towers with them as I've said before. When I was done my mother would come and help me roll them up to take back to the bank. In a lot of ways it was like being a kid again.

If I ever have kids I think it would be fun to continue this with them, but I probably won't be able to. The rise of mechanical coin counters will probably kill any chance of that.

I still coin and roll coins the same way though.




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