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Mom Was Right – Every Nickel Counts

My parents, John and Jeannette, were born in 1912. They began dating in 1928 when each was 16 years old, and they were married in 1930 when they turned 18. It was the height of the Great Depression, but by April 1936 they had four “Depression Babies.” World War II ensued a few years later, and then after the war – Mom and Dad had four “Baby Boomers,” including yours truly, number seven of eight, born in 1950.

The Van Valen kids basically grew up in two shifts of four kids each. Dad worked hard and Mom worked harder yet raising all those little Van Valens. I could recount 100 homilies Mom repeated to us throughout our young years, but the memory of one old saying was recently awakened in me on an Internet bidding site. As a kid in the ‘50s, Mom would always say “every nickel counts” whenever she gave us a few cents to run to the candy store. As soon as I saw the offered item, I knew I had to own it.

It’s a cast pot metal piece a little over 2” across. The obverse is a fairly faithful reproduction of Fraser’s all-American Indian nickel obverse, and the reverse screams out in no uncertain terms: “EVERY NICKEL COUNTS.” There’s a tiny test cut on the “obverse” rim above the Y of LIBERTY, no doubt a long-ago attempt to determine if there was silver in the mix. Other than a sprew mark on the rim at 11 o’clock there are no other marks. It “feels” contemporary to 1937 to me, and the sentiment could very well be an old Depression-era saying and the source of Mom’s insistence that “every nickel counts.” No matter the source, my wife loves the piece and it sits on a coaster on our coffee table as a constant source of amusement for us. A nickel doesn’t go far nowadays, but it is prudent to remember that every one of them counts.

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