The 100 Year Old Penny

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost“- J.R.R. Tolkien

I love and live that quote. Some of you tease me about my semi-anonymous state and ask for explanations about the who, what and why and I don’t answer. Understand that sometimes my silence is intentional and sometimes it is because I am in the midst of a grand journey and I would rather give you an answer than some half mumbled response that you can’t quite follow.

English: 900 DPI scan of a 1937 Wheat cent (&q...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I found a 100 year-old penny. It was sitting in a pile of loose change that I was sifting through. Don’t know what caught my eye. It is not shiny, in fact it is quite dirty. The front shows a very faded outline of President Lincoln and the back is the old style that says “One Cent.”

Still, something about it made me pick it up and that is when I noticed the date, 1912. I love history and I couldn’t help but get excited about what has taken place in this penny’s “lifetime.” The world transitioned from an agrarian age of farms, horses and buggies into a technological marvel of cars, spaceships and computers.

Think about it. Two world wars, the end of empires and the beginning of new ones. Had I the will and the time I could write a 100 stories in which this penny participated. Perhaps I shall one day. Perhaps I’ll decide that it is something that I must do, but I am not quite there yet.

The Same But Different

That penny reminds me that the people of the past are the same but different. Were it possible to go back in time 100 years we would certainly notice differences in how people lived.  You wouldn’t fly off to Maui to take advantage of a long weekend or  head cross country for a quick visit with friends/relatives cross country. The lack of cellphones, email and computers would force you to communicate differently with those you wished to speak with.

But other things, fundamental things wouldn’t really be any different. Relationships would be the same…in every way. Love would still drive people to act and do as they do today. Hormones would still drive teenagers to act as they do today. The need for friendship and companionship of every type would still drive people to act as they do today.

I Wander With Purpose

I don’t know about you, but I wander with purpose. I am prone to taking the long way home and I don’t always follow the trail but I have a general sense of where it is I am going.

My grandfathers were like that but my father isn’t. The man figured out what direction he wanted to head in and off he went. Didn’t matter what got in the way because dad went through, over, under or around. But he didn’t wander in the sense that I am thinking of.

I suspect much of it has to do with moving 13 times as a kid. He figured out where he wanted to be and made a life of it. I used to think that he didn’t have much sense of adventure but I was wrong. He wouldn’t have joined the Peace Corps or done some of the other things he did. Took a while for me to figure that out, blame it on the blindness of youth.

When you get to be older you start to see things differently, or at least I did. It is like listening to different musicians cover the same song:

Eleanor Rigby– The Beatles
Eleanor Rigby– Ray Charles
Eleanor Rigby– Aretha Franklin

Same song, three very different renditions.

Flotsam and Jetsam

My train of thought got completely derailed and now you have been granted the gift of reading odds and ends. That I feel like I need to spit out but don’t necessarily fit in this post.

We moved more than six months ago but are still in temporary housing. That is in part because it hasn’t been clear if work would require some sort of relocation or if I could continue to maintain a remote office.

Lately I have found this temporary housing situation to be particularly irksome. Much of my stuff is in storage and I am tired of not having access to things when I want them. The upside is that I have continued to shed pieces and parts of my life that I don’t really need anymore.

While that wasn’t a reference to people it does lead me to a comment about them. There are a few “friends” who swore that they would would never leave and did just that. I miss a few of them. Reached out and was rebuffed so I guess they are gone.

I suppose that you can attribute this to being part of why it is really hard to get me to promise some things. I just won’t do it unless I am confident that I can come through because I don’t want to be the guy that can’t.

Still have some technical issues with the blog that are irritating me and a few with my computer. Working hard to try and fix them. I have come really close to figuring out what is making things go a bit haywire, but haven’t quite managed to get it all sussed out yet.

I’ll get there…eventually. It might take some more doing, but I’ll get there even if I have to take the long way home.

This blog reminds me of my 100-year-old penny. It is filled with a 100 different stories about people that are all the same but different.

What do you think?

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  1. Annie Andre March 7, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Can i clean the penny and give it new life?
    I would like to add a gps tracker to it to see where it goes and what it sees.
    I would like to hold it for a while and just look at it..

    • Jack March 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Annie,

      Funny you say that because that is exactly what I would like to do. Part of what I find so interesting is the idea of where that penny goes and who it ends up with.

  2. Kaarina Dillabough March 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

    This is now one of my favourite posts of yours (of course, I say that often, so the list is getting longer by the minute:)

    I cannot tell you the ridiculous joy I get from finding a penny on the sidewalk, or finding one that is aged. I especially like finding ones that are the year of my birth (which shall remain secret…If I told you I’d have to…well, you know)

    Whenever I hear that the penny is going to be phased out, my heart skips a beat and I want to hoard all the copper bits of history and memory I can.

    “I wander with purpose”. Puts my in mind of what I consider myself to be: A Renaissance Soul, with myriad interests, an inquisitive nature, an eye for wonder and a love of lovin’ it all.

    “The only way to find what you are looking for is to go looking for it.” That is the best! I’d like to borrow (cough, steal) both those quotes:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • Jack March 5, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Hi Kaarina,

      Am I allowed to take a guess at the year of your birth or will I only get myself in trouble.

      Or should I say that I once used the phrase “higher math shouldn’t be involved” in relationship to a woman’s age and got my head bit off.

      I know, I knew it was coming.

      Shiny and dull pennies make me smile. Feel free to use those quotes all you want.

  3. Jens P. Berget March 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I keep thinking about my parents and how different I am. It doesn’t seem that we’re even remotely related, except from the looks. When you see us, even from a distance, you know that they’re my parents. So, I’ve been looking for a relative I can relate to. One person that seems to be a little more like me, and it seems that my grandfather was the one. And your post made me think, what would his blog be about, if he wrote one when he was my age? It probably wouldn’t be about marketing, but I believe that many other things would have been the same.

    What about you and your closest relative and his imaginary blog, would it have been much different than yours?

    • Jack March 5, 2012 at 12:28 am

      I understand that. There are moments where I look at my father and wonder if we could be any more different.

      Yet, as I age I see more inklings of similarities. There might have been some similarities in his imaginary blog, but I would have to look at my grandfathers.

      They were different from each other, but similar enough to me that I could see their blogs being close, maybe…

      It is an interesting question. I think they would be close, I wonder…

  4. absence of alternatives March 4, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Does that mean you are rich now once you sell the 100-year-old penny? I jest of course. I love reading random musings (with a purpose) like this, this is actually how a lot of great Chinese literature is like: the writers move in circles and then in the last sentence s/he brings it all home. Thanks for the Aretha’s vid by the way.

    • Jack March 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      Am I rich now? Well the answer is that I was rich before, just not in financial terms. 😉

      Those great Chinese writers are onto something. I might be biased about that though.

      Happy to share Aretha with you.

  5. Mark March 4, 2012 at 7:07 am

    This is the best story I’ve ever read about a penny… Took me down memory lane.

    Thanks for the trip Jack, that was awesome 🙂

  6. Betsy Cross March 4, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Love patterns I uncover doing my family history research, too. What’s the saying? Names and faces change, but some things never do?

  7. Ralph March 4, 2012 at 4:48 am

    When I first started reading your comments on other blogs I got the sense that you were a bit of a pixie (not likely in stature). While I think that is likely true (posting stuff with invisible ink) the other side is also interesting.

    It’s amazing what thoughts an old penny can conjure up. Wandering with purpose is admirable. Not a lot of people do that (me included) even on the www which is where it is very easy to take many, many forks in the proverbial road.

    I hear you about the PC and blog woes. I think I need a new one and I need to fix the other. Both seem a bit broken.

    The 100+ stories are great ’cause they come from the heart. Good on ya.

    • Jack March 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Hi Ralph,

      If by pixie you mean that I am insouciant and a bit puckish then I definitely agree.

      I don’t know that I have any more insight than the next guy but I am confident saying that I am usually willing to dig where others won’t.

      Do you have plans to make any changes to the blog and PC?

  8. Hajra March 4, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Now fall victim to my scattered rail of thoughts! 🙂

    I just started reading the autobiography of Johnny Cash and because I can’t think about anything else, I am just so thankful that such a beautiful post comes by which makes us think that yes the past is important and that will and what is that lead to the present. That is the sole reason why I read biographies and histories, they give me hope that yes, somebody and almost everybody did wander at some point; but they found what they hoped for. And here’s hoping I do too. And you too! 🙂

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