Fifty Cent Fun

When we were in Marquette Michigan last spring there was a moment at the cashier’s stand at a diner that rocked my day. The bored chick behind the register handed me my change and I was overcome when I saw one of these babies:

They don’t even have the slot for this coin in cash drawers anymore. For real, tell me the last time you’ve been handed one as legal tender. I stood there  surprised and spluttering: “Oh my God, you’ve given me a fifty cent piece!” She snapped her gum under her pierced lip and said “Yeah.”

As you can see from the photo I took today, I’ve held on to that half dollar. (In Canada it was called a fifty cent piece. I’ve learned that Stateside it’s called a half dollar.) Great ballso, I hadn’t held one in my hand for, like, thirty years?

Deep in the dear dead days beyond recall,  a fifty cent piece, bestowed on you by a Granny at Christmas or an uncle on your birthday bought a paperback Rex Stout,  a new garter belt from Woolworth’s or enough candy from the corner store to bring on Type 1 diabetes . It was a studly, masterful coin that invited possibilities. Four bits aren’t a lot of jack anymore, but it’s practical — why have two quarters stuffing your pocket or change purse when you could have a fifty cent piece?

It wasn’t until our second trip to the UP that we figured out why I’d been handed a vintage coin with such nonchalance. First Nation casinos abound in the UP, and if you’re playing blackjack they have to pay 1 1/2 times your bet. With a three dollar minimum you’re paid four and a half dollars. The four dollars are in tokens, the fifty cents in a coin.

So in a few smoky crazy fun hours we now have a stack of fifty cent pieces. I know we’ll spend them sometime, but not soon. I mean, if we go to the grocery store there’s no slot in the drawer for the mighty half dollar.



Filed under Collections, History, How Cool is That?, Les than 99 cents, Less than 50 cents

3 responses to “Fifty Cent Fun

  1. Splashy gooood, Miss M!

    Fo-Bits in the stocking down beneath the orange and the silvertips was a mighty fine treasure, back when I was a wee ‘un. And tied in the corner of a hanky, it made a nice Just In Case in your purse.

    (Along with a dime, of course, to call home if needful).

    I DID observe the other day that a fifty-cent piece won’t fit into the money-slots of either Wilbur or Orville—Sweetpea’s two piggy banks.

  2. LOVE love love 50 cent pieces. My parents used to give my child one for pulling in their trash cans on trash day, and other such tasks. He has quite a big pile of ’em, today. Course my Dad had a supply, God knows why, maybe for a grandson someday pulling in the trash cans.

    I must confess I love better Susan B. Anthony dollars, which that same child got from the Tooth Fairy, and also found in the eggs of his backyard Easter egg hunt, and the later but golden Sacajawea dollars. The stamp machine at the big post office up on the Mesa used to give change in Susan B. Anthonys, long after their short circulation. A very good solution in the pre-credit card vending machine days. Course I had also learned that supermarket checkers have to secrete both Susan B.s and Sacajaweas UNDER the cash drawer, and LOVE love love to sell ’em to interested individuals funding Easter eggs and/or Tooth Fairy extortion payments.

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