Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Tribute to My Dad:Double Down

I first wrote this short story for a creative writing class I took at university.  The tutor had encouraged us to take from our personal experiences and write about what we know.  I poached stories from everyone in my family and embellished/ polished/ extended them.  Dad told me a shorter version of this particular story and it's one of my favourites.  It first appeared on A Great Title on 22 January 2011 and I have revised and edited it since then. 

It is not surprising that Dad's adult life was spent selling anything and everything from musical instruments to houses, cars and insurance. 


Dedicated to My Dad
7 December 1953 - 8 January 2017

The year was 1966, the year the Australian Monetary system "changed over."  No more pennies and pounds, just dollars and cents.  I was about 12 and worked a paper run for the local newsagent.  My mother insisted that I learn the value of a pound.  I certainly made a lot of money that year...

Every morning I woke up at the crack of dawn and rode my bicycle to the local newsagent's.  Mr Jones, would give us our papers and off we'd go.  On Pay Day all the customers would give us sixpence in pennies and Mr Jones would pay us for our work.  When we heard that the money was changing over, I devised a plan.  I decided that I would collect as many pennies as I could and start a coin collection.  I figured that in a few years time, I could sell them as collectors' items and make a fortune.  But a lucky break and a true stroke of genius came just a week before the historic change over occurred.

It was pay day, and I was collecting my pennies just as I had done for the last few months.  When we arrived back at the newsagency, Mr Jones ushered us boys into the shop as he always did.  He had a huge grin on his face and with a scratch of his whiskers he said, "now boys, don't tell anyone about this, I have a surprise for you."  We all looked at each other, if he didn't get it over with and pay us soon, we were going to be late for school.  "You see boys, being a shop keeper," Mr Jones continued, retrieving two cash bags from under the counter.  "I have acquired some bags of one and two cent pieces in readiness for the change over next week."  We froze in anticipation. 

Mr Jones took a handful of each coin from the bags.  Six little eyes widened and three little jaws almost dropped to the floor.  "Wow, Mr Jones!" Jack murmured in amazement.  "Yeah" replied Mr Jones, "Quite exciting isn't it boys?" My mouth began to water, if only he would give us one, we would be the most envied kids in school.  "Here's the thing boys, I don't need this many one and two cent pieces.  So this is what I'll do..."  He paused, and reached into the bags.  We all leaned over and held our breath.  The time was forgotten, breakfast- and school for that matter- could wait.  "You kids can have a handful from each bag as well as your pay this week."

Joy of Joys, Mr Jones was the best boss ever!  We thanked him over and over as we left that morning and hurried home.  

Later that day, at school, I showed my classmates my treasure and quickly became very popular!  "Can I have one?" asked Harry.  "Yeah, me too!" exclaimed Tom.  I paused for a moment, looked into their eager faces and thought it over.  Finally, I sighed "sure," then with a smile, "you can have one of each for sixpence."