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Heads and Tails - Chapter 5

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By Leigh Anne Florence

 The penny I chose showed the year 1931 ... I was disappointed. I was sure it was an important year, but I was homesick for the 21st century. I was tempted to buy another penny from Chloe’s jar, but I’d saved some money and wanted to keep it. So, we decided to spend some time in 1931. 

Needing employment, Chloe and I walked to Mobley’s Mercantile.  “It’s a ghost town,” Chloe said as we approached the store.  A lady passing by heard us and asked if we needed help. “What happened to Mobley’s?” I asked. “The Depression,” she replied.  “Why is Mr. Mobley depressed?” I asked. “No, honey, the Great Depression,” she explained. “The stock market crash, Black Tuesday?” Seeing my confusion, she continued, “When the stock market crashed in 1929, the economy turned upside down. People lost their jobs; it was impossible to afford the necessities. Mr. Mobley had to close the store.”

 “Thankfully, he has his farm!” I commented. “Farmers lost farms, banks failed and even schools had to close,” the lady said. “Some folks couldn’t buy food.” We were speechless. I remembered I had two pennies with me for peppermints. I knew it wasn’t much, but gave them to the lady. Chloe and I walked home feeling sad, knowing why they called it The Depression. 

I looked in my piggy bank. I had $1.96 – not counting my 1909 penny. That penny was my treasure and I was keeping it. I was learning the importance of saving, but felt getting to another year was a necessity. “Woody, since you shared your two cents,” said Chloe, “I’ll give you a penny from my jar. We’ll use that penny to travel to another year.” My parents agreed. In the next instant we found ourselves in 1940! Chloe and I went back to the mercantile hoping things would be different.

“Woody and Chloe! It’s great to see you!” Mr. Mobley exclaimed. “Great to see you, too!” I answered, extending my paw for a shake. “I thought you might need a potato digger.”  “Actually, I don’t,” Mr. Mobley replied, “I have more equipment now, like a tractor, a combine and other machines that speed up production.”  Needing employment, I was disappointed.  “However,” Mr. Mobley continued, “since the Rural Electrification Administration is providing electricity to farmers, I need someone to dig holes for the electrical poles. The job pays 25 cents per hole. Are you interested?” If I could dig potatoes, I could dig postholes!

John, from my potato job, was my boss again. Two weeks and 40 holes later, the job was finished. “Ten dollars!” I shouted as John handed me my earnings. I was one rich dog. Thanking John, I began to leave. “Woody, I bought this brand new board game. You use play money, not real money. Since we’ve finished our work, do you want to play?” “I’m game!” I replied. “Can I be the top hat?” I asked. John looked puzzled. “Abe Lincoln – top hat - this piece has to be lucky.” Minutes later, my play money was gone; I was bankrupt. “You’re a great digger, Woody, but terrible with money.” John laughed. “Terrible?  I still have $1.96 from my potato job,” I proudly stated. “That’s all?” John replied. “Woody, you should have that money in a savings account. Since President Roosevelt introduced the New Deal, banks are safe. Your money will be protected and will draw interest.” I wasn’t sure what interest was, but if my money grew, I was interested.

When I arrived home, I asked Dad if he would take me to the bank. Before we left, I totaled my earnings - $11.96 (not including my 1909 penny). I kept $1.96 at home for emergencies and took $10 with me. I listened as the bank teller defined deposits, withdrawals and interest. Then she asked how much money I was going to deposit. Dad explained that a wise money manager tried to save 10 percent of earnings, give 10 percent to charity and use the other 80 percent for spending. Though math wasn’t my best subject, I knew 10 percent of $10 is $1. Since I hadn’t saved before, I thought I would be aggressive. I handed the teller the entire $10. She handed me a savings book and a lollipop.  I was a true business dog. 

“What are you going to do with the money you save, Woody?” Dad asked as we walked home. “I wish I could buy us a ticket back to the 21st century,” I replied. “Woody, the first rule of money managing is to realize money can’t buy everything – like time or happiness.” Enjoying my cherry lollipop, I pondered that thought.  I knew Dad was right, but still couldn’t wait to buy another penny from Chloe’s jar.

Thanks to LG&E/KU both E.ON companies and KPA for making this project possible. Thanks to the Kentucky Secretary of State for sponsoring the new podcast. For podcast and questions and activities go online to www.kypress.com.