“A penny saved is a penny got.”
Because as a boy, like Dad, I collected coins
and as a Boy Scout earned the much coveted
Coin Collecting merit badge, I regard quarters
from a different perspective than sensible people.
Despite that merit badge, I never called myself
“numismatist.” Too much of a mouthful for me.
But when the bicentennial quarters rolled out
featuring that Colonial drummer and the star-
encircled torch of freedom on the reverse
side, I rolled up all I could find and saved them
like some depraved Silas Marner hedging
my bets against the ravages of inflation.
Then came the fifty states starting in ’99 with
Delaware, “The First State,” and Pennsylvania,
“Virtue, Liberty, Independence,” ending with
Hawaii, unpronounceable, in what Dad called
“twenty ought eight.” And wisely, I thought to save
two rolls, two ten-dollar rolls per state, fully
confident my coining obsession would one day
pay off big. I saw myself like rich, top-hatted
Scrooge McDuck rolling gleeful in his vault of coins.
Then came the territories followed in 2010
by the national parks, to which there may be
no end. So, now I’ve become suspicious.
Hot Springs, Arkansas, made sense and Yellowstone,
of course, but the Frank Church River of No
Return Wilderness? The Tallgrass Prairie
National Preserve? Where will it all stop?
Yes, I’m becoming dreadfully suspicious.
I have entirely ceased rolling my quarters.
Now I see this as part of a minted conspiracy
to manipulate inflation, though I’m not sure how.
“America the Beautiful” expressed in coinage?
Where are we headed, what with Washington
crossing the Delaware? I fear the American
history of exceptionalism may take over
leaving me holding these heavy bags of change.