Where do I begin, to tell the story of how crammed full a condo can be?
Eight days in Hastings and Battle Creek, Michigan. Never heard of these places? Well, look on the side of any box of Kellogg’s cereal and you’ll see Battle Creek, MI. It is Cereal City, where the Road to Wellville ended and typical Small Town America. Hastings? Well that’s even Smaller Town America and there’s not much there except for a kick-ass market, Toms’, that sells fresh cut steaks, homemade sausage, jerky and alcohol, of course (gotta love the north!). There’s also the Waldorf Brewery that serves better food than most people in the area appreciate. And then there’s the Superette. The Superette is about the size of a small house and sells everything you need for a good time (i.e. snacks, liquor, cigarettes and lottery tickets). My grandma, after purchasing her weekly lotto tickets, once mistook D for R and slammed her Chevy Lumina into the front wall of the Superette. No harm done except for a few broken liquor bottles and an old lady’s pride. That’s just one of the many reasons why she is now living at my mother’s in Florida and why we (my mom, husband, sister and I) were in Hastings cleaning out her condo.
What unfolded at the condo was an adventure of rediscovered history, unchecked pack-rat-ism and change. Not butterfly from a cocoon type of change. Not even Obama campaign change. I’m talking “in my pocket going jing-a-ling-a-ling” change. More change than most people who don’t work in the banking industry will see in a lifetime. Mountains of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies with the odd handful of dollar and half-dollar coins.
A lot, huh? Well, that’s not even all of it. There were dozens of velvet boxes with plastic encased silver dollars and another box full of nothing but rolls of state quarters. We found buffalo nickels, indian head pennies. mercury dimes and steel pennies. There were quarters from the 1930′s and, since we were in Michigan, an assortment of Canadian coins.
Now, this change wasn’t neatly divided into baggies and boxes when we arrived. No, it was scattered about the condo in random jars, bins and plastic bags which were shoved into every drawer, closet, desk, nook and cranny of the condo. Modern coins mixed in with coins from the 1800′s. We had to sort through it all, and by “we” I mean my poor husband. He didn’t feel comfortable going through the drawers and deciding what papers should stay and what should be tossed, so he was put in charge of the change. Every time we found another plastic bag or jar full of coins we would bring it to his station in the bedroom for him to sort. At first he thought it was interesting and had fun finding the rare coins. By the fourth day he never wanted to see another coin again as long as he lived. I think his soul died a little every time we would bring him more coins.
When we finally sorted the wheat from the chaff, we had $750 in everyday change. Probably double that amount in “special” coins. Sounds pretty impressive until you learn that my sister and I were up in MI a few years ago and had already found most of the coins. We dumped them into a plastic bin and left it for our mother who was going up to visit grandma later that year. Mom found more coins that we missed, loaded up the back of the Jeep and took the whole lot to the bank. A couple hours later, the bank tellers let my mom know that she had just deposited about $10,000 worth of change into my grandma’s account.
So, yeah. Grandma has a coin fetish.
Next, maybe I’ll tell you about her stamps.