Saturday, February 18, 2006

One Thin Dime

One tenth part of a dollar. Ten cents. Not worth picking up from the street.

Not always.

As a child I would carefully save, earn or cajole a dime to be able to go to Magnuson's corner store to buy a 12 ounce bottle of "pop". The smaller bottles (7 ounce) were only 7 cents, but there was no substitute for a big bottle when you had to perform in a belching contest. A dime (which was 90% silver in those days) had the power to purchase a variety of "penny candy", and if you could scrape up an additional 2 cents, you could buy a pair of Hostess Twinkees™. My dentist retired a wealthy man from all the sugar we ate as children.

In junior high I placed my first (and last) sports bet with a shiny silver dime. I was stiffed (DALE SWENSON) and not having any muscle to collect on the debt, I chalked that one up to experience. Now that I think of it, I've probably saved thousands of dollars over the years that would have been wasted gambling! Thanks Dale! (But you still owe me!)

The classic use of a dime then was for phone calls. When we used to go to movies and needed a ride home, we would call at a pay phone, let it ring twice, then hang up. That was the universal way to let mom or dad know that we were ready to come home, and not have to pay Ma Bell. With cell phones practically a given today, it all seems rather quaint. But at one time a dime was really worth something.

By Professor Batty



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