"Years ago, when my parents were attempting to teach us, as children, the value of money, my Mom shared her personal story, as a 5-year old.
The family was on their way to the Barnum & Bailey "Greatest Show on Earth" and while driving only a few blocks from home, her Dad gave her a nickel to spend. She could almost taste the gooey, instantly-dissolving, pastel pink cotton candy. But when she looked despairingly at that one, nickel coin, she erupted in 5-year old fashion and of all things, threw it out the open window and into thick underbrush, alongside the roadway.
Brakes squealed! Necks swiveled around! My grandfather immediately pulled onto the shoulder of the road and got out of the car. He didn't raise his voice... God only know how, but calmly held her by the forearm saying, "Young lady, you're going to scrounge through the area until you find that nickel."
Close to two hours later, the search was called off, unresolved. The only fact that remained was the finale of B&B was probably over. Visions of elephants with silver and leather garb, horses with colorfully costumed lady riders, and clowns that literally exploded laughter from the audience .well, all but my grandparents and my Mom! Tears had stained her little rosy cheeks, and thorny bushes along that roadside had thrashed her slender legs and arms. No circus that year.
Well, obviously, we kids were all spellbound with her story. It might have meant more to us, if that coin had been a quarter or half dollar, but nonetheless, the point was made.
So, to bring it even closer to us, you must know, the "Greatest Show on Earth" had become an important part of our Mom's life, to the extent, whenever the circus would be arriving in town, she even let us "skip school" just to go to the circus grounds as they arrived by elephants pulling train cars to the massive tent site. Sometimes, we didn't have the necessary "greenies" to actually attend the performance, but we did get to meet clowns with partial make-up, someone walking around on stilts, and the most incredible opportunity was visiting with the horse trainer and his team of white stallions. His pleasure was allowing us to actually ride on their bareback for a couple of minutes. We'd brag about that for some time.
OK! So now, you're asking yourself, "How does this plug into learning the value of money?" Well, our granddad had a close friend and business associate that owned a candy distributorship. We were asked to come-on-down to his shop and select a box of our favorite goodies. Wow! We each chose a box of Fleer's Bubblegum. . 50 individual pieces in each box . . Chewing gum heaven! Thank you's were the understatement! We were told we could only take one piece of gum to school per day. I remember tearing mine into fourths, so they'd last longer, because we had to spit-out any gum, when we were in class. Classmates asked for a piece, and it was hard to turn 'em down, but we did. However, one morning, a friend asked if she could pay me for my whole piece of bubblegum. I asked, "How much do you have?" She responded, "I have my quarter for school lunch." "That'll do!" I responded. Both of us were proud as pigs!
But that afternoon, my bubblegum sale leaked out to my mom, and you know what came next. I was scolded but not spanked. That would've been better. Oh, no! My mom made me give my flamboyant bubblegum chewer friend 5 pieces for f-r-e-e, plus an apology. Lesson learned! Sure, inflation was involved, but I've never forgotten the value of just a nickel or what it might've bought back then!"
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"Just a Nickel" by Jill H. Garrett
Categories: Stories and Memories
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