When we were in Marquette Michigan last spring https://cheapcheer.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/cheap-cheer-in-tough-times/ 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 https://cheapcheer.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/up-in-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.