Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Daddy and the Hundred Dollar Bill

It was the 50s, to be sure, possibly '57 after we got the Pontiac.
I think, unless I am disremembering, that we were going on vacation...somewhere. We went on vacation every year, even if it was just upstate NY to see Niagara Falls again, hoping against hope to see the colored spotlights on the falls. It never happened, even when Herb and the girls and I went there some years ago.  I must bring on the breaking of the spotlights. Lucky me.

Anyway, we were going to go away. Dad must have gone to the bank to take out some traveling money because he came back with this great smile he was capable of smiling, the one he practiced in the mirror.
Mom called it his "shit eating grin". I think that was an ancient Ukrainian expression because I never heard anybody else ever use it. Stands to reason. Ukrainian expressions tended to involve fecal matter or wishes for dread diseases. I digress.
So Daddy walks in the side door with his grin in place and calls my older brother Jack and me over, he has something to show us.
We're all excited because Dad was not the demonstrative type, not really. But that grin let us know there was something afoot.

He bends down and takes a $100 bill from his wallet.
We gasp!
This is more money than we had ever seen in our lives. Jack had a paper route and regularly made about five bucks a week from it. He was a wealthy, hardworking young man. I probably had never held a dollar bill in my short life at this time.
And here was Dad, showing off his hundred dollar bill!
He was rich!
We were rich by proxy or proximity.

I don't know what happened to the money, how it got spent, if it got spent or put into the bank. Maybe we visited relatives in Canada that year and gave it to them...I don't know. They didn't seem poor to me, but Mom always gave them stuff. They were refugees, I was told. They came here with nothing. They couldn't come into the US for some reason, not to live, but I never knew or understood why. Not that Canada isn't a nice country, but, really. I was a kid, full of Eisenhower and patriotism.

That would be the end of this little story except for a little footnote: While driving our brand new Pontiac with a huge engine on one of the president's new superhighways, Daddy floored the engine and we went 100 miles an hour for a brief couple of yards! I know because we leaned over the back of the front seat and saw the speedometer slide over the 100 mark.

Wow. Such a little thing, such little things were so cool to unjaded kids in the '50s.


  1. This southie girl knows "shit eating grin." it's not just Ukranian. :)

    1. Well, I'll be! It is rather disgusting when you think about it!!!!