Twenty-Five Cents

Rick Ryckeley's picture

With its buying power diminished, a quarter many not seem important to most, but with tax time right around the corner, every quarter is really important to the government.

Forty years ago, a quarter was really important to me also. It kept me from getting the whooping of my life and kept me safe all summer.

Twenty-five cents is one-fourth of a dollar. To most people that’s not a lot of money, and nowadays it won’t buy much. Make a phone call from a pay phone and you will have two fewer quarters. Go over your allotment on a cell phone and you’ll be out three quarters a minute. You can’t buy a large Coke for less than four quarters. And the new Captain America comic book will set you back almost six quarters, if they hadn’t killed him off.

When I was 7, if I did all of my chores, Dad would pay me a quarter on Saturday mornings. For each pair of Sunday shoes I shined, he’d also pay a quarter. If I saved my quarters for an entire month, I would have $3. Three dollars could buy most anything up at Mister Hancock’s 7/11.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, the most money I had left at the end of the month was a quarter. Seems I had as much luck saving money back then as The Wife and I do today. But a quarter was enough for the new Superman comic and a Coke, or in my case it kept me from getting beaten up all summer.

Ralph Hancock and his wife Gail were the owners of the 7/11 over on Kent Street. Back then the 7/11 was a store where you could buy Cokes in glass bottles, plastic green army men, grape or cherry slush puppies, or jumbo honeybuns. The Hancock’s store also carried just about any grocery item you could want. Mom sent one of us on a daily trek there; seems she always needed something.

To get to the 7/11 we walked down Flamingo Street, went past the new kid’s house, cut across the vacant lot to Castlewood Street, climbed the monster hill, crossed three lawns, and we were there.

Simple – all except for the new kid. At the start of my third grade year, a new kid moved into our neighborhood, and it changed my life forever. The new kid was Bradley Macalister, a.k.a. Down the Street Bully Brad.

Bully Brad was in the fifth grade, well on his way to failing it for the first of three times. I know now that a bully doesn’t need a reason to be mean; they just are, but after one beats you up, you’ll do anything to keep it from happening again — even give up your last quarter, your lunch money, and anything else they want.

It’s not logical to give into a bully, but what did I know? I was in the third grade.

April 15 is fast approaching, and I’ve heard horror stories of people getting audited. They say it’s worse than getting beaten up. I figure I’ll just give a quarter of everything I made last year to the government. That means for every dollar, I’ll send in a quarter.

I gave Bradley Macalister a quarter, and he didn’t beat me up. So this year if a quarter is all it takes to keep from getting beaten up, then I’ll send it in. But they’re not getting my lunch money!

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