Mrs. Haviland kept me hidden in the pantry. There I lived for months, waiting for a rainy day to bring me back into civilization.
In 1911, I was sent to Cousin Mattie of Kansas as a good-luck charm for her bridal shoe. Afterwards, Mattie mailed me to Harriet Quimby, the first woman to earn a pilot’s license, to take on an air trip across the English Channel. Screenwriter, model, editor and world traveler, Quimby was also beautiful, intelligent and brave, a role model for other young aspiring women. This indomitable lady pocketed me before succeeding in her renowned English Channel Crossing. Subsequently, Harriet returned to exhibition flying at the Annual Boston Aviation Meet, where she was killed, falling from her airplane in mid-flight.
Found by a little boy at the crash site, I was traded for a Charlie Chaplin Saturday matinee, a luxury in the face of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and The Great Depression. I was then rolled with others, exchanged, and spent until I was added to the savings account of an Oklahoma gal who was attending the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany, a graduation gift from her parents. I traveled with her there and back, incognito, in the lining of her undergarments.
I eventually resurfaced, only to be tossed about, washed, trod upon and buried in mud along the banks of the Ohio River during the Great Flood of 1937! Thereafter, I remember riding in a New Jersey reporter’s car as he covered the tragedy of the Hindenburg explosion, that great German airship. The acrid smoke is still ingrained in my etching!
I became popular in the 1940’s, as I lived in a loafer shoe slot for all to view! I witnessed a remarkable change in America’s fabric as I continued to be lost, found, cherished, ignored, and collected. Women were working outside of their homes. I was saved and treated with respect. Food was rationed as war aftershocks took hold. Then, I was honored to take part in a laboratory science discovery: the miracle drug of penicillin became available to treat infections within and beyond our borders!
In the 1950’s, I hid in Rosa Parks’ apron as she rode the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She nervously rubbed me between her fingers as she unwittingly initiated a bus boycott that became a pivotal part of the civil rights movement. I was also saved in ashtrays on television sets of mid-income families, excited to listen to the adventures of “Ozzie and Harriett”, “Father Knows Best” and “Lassie”.
The 1960s found me joining the feverous excitement of music sensations, the Beatles. Then came the hippies, along with their Woodstock Festival that brought “free love, peace and happiness” to tolerant Americans, but also introduced LSD into the fracas. I helped pay for Simon to experience this 3-day event, but part of my character is that I have no control over when or where I go!
Vietnam and anti-war demonstrations were rampant in the ‘70’s. I was present at the Kent State Massacre, falling from a policeman’s shirt pocket as he failed to keep order. But, I was also privileged to travel on Apollo 17 for an awesome trip to the moon, stuck as I was to astronaut Ronald Evan’s shoe!
I was forced to watch questionable 1980 American events, such as book banns and burnings, ridding shelves of all-time classics such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, “Grapes of Wrath” and “Catcher in the Rye”. But, I also was able to celebrate with the world when The Berlin Wall was voluntarily, permanently removed!
An advancing revolution of the 1990’s has greatly affected our nation on into the twenty-first century, as the Internet and electronics continue to advance. I have observed all ages “surfing the net” for educational, good purposes. I have also beheld the destruction of lives and morality that comes from the pornography and indecency it can be misused for. What wonders are now available as these far-reaching tools help us to communicate and learn!
I’ve heard rumors about my family discontinuing. The penny represents the spirit of our nation from liberty to Lincoln and cannot be suppressed!
No longer mobile, I am approaching my 100th birthday. I have been tenderly inserted into a book slot and stored in a dark safe for prosperity. I don’t really mind. I have had a full and memorable life.
However, I get a hankering to hear someone say, “a penny for your thoughts”!
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