Monday, December 01, 2008

Pennies from Dorchester

When Betsy Trumbull was burying her guinea pig in the back yard of her Tonawanda Street three-decker, she made a fortuitous discovery. It was the day after Thanksgiving. Chirples had died the day before Thanksgiving but there was a wake to be held and no one, not even a guinea pig, gets buried on a holiday. During the Thanksgiving meal, Betsy offered up the sentiment that even though Chirples was gone, he had lived a good life. He was six years old when he met his maker.

It's been a warm autumn this year and the ground in Dorchester hasn't been locked up with frost. The shovel slid into the dirt as Betsy Trumbull and her father excavated Chirples' final resting place. Her father tossed a shovelful of dirt out of the ground and Betsy noticed a velveteen bag mixed with the soil and puddingstone pebbles. She called the operation to halt to examine it. The bag was worm-eaten and moldy but still intact and drawn closed with a scarlet silk string. Inside the bag was a carefully folded envelope fashioned from butcher's paper. Inside the envelope were ten tarnished coins.

"What are these?" Betsy asked. Her father replied, "Some kid's treasure buried and forgotten. It looks like Chirples is being buried in a special place." After the funeral service was concluded with all due solemnity, Betsy and her father took the coins into their kitchen. Her father said, "Let's leave this in a glass of Diet Coke overnight and see what we've got."

By morning the carbonation had scoured the coins free of all accumulated debris and corrosion. Betsy found herself in the possession of ten shiny Indian Head Pennies minted in 1908. The following Monday (today) Betsy and her father took the pennies to the check cashing parlor on Edward Everett Square. They were informed that pennies of this vintage and in this condition were worth a dollar a piece. Mr. Trumbull urged cashing them all in. Betsy thought otherwise. She cashed in nine for nine whole dollars. She is keeping the other one in memory of Chirples and his final resting place. She knows she won't live on Tonawanda Street forever. Someday, she hopes to live on Melville Avenue and then she will be able to look at this penny and think of where Chriples is buried.

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