Lists, Records and Spare Change

Christmas preparations are no longer an excuse.  Neither, as of Wednesday, will work on The Project.  Even Mr. NYer agrees that it’s time to figure  out the moving thing.

Yesterday, with notebook in hand, we walked room to room, making a list of things that needed to be done, most of which included the word “weed.”  Two columns on the page helped Mr. NYer see the urgency:  the first was labeled “before Jan. 14,” which is when Lifelongnewyorker heads south.  The second was “after January 14,” when Mr. NYer is on his own. 

That date in black and white helped.   In each room we decided what to take with us.  This was surprisingly easy when it came to furniture.  Yes, let’s leave that.  And that.  And that.  What to do with these items is yet to be determined.  Soon-to-be-Abandoned hopes to get an apartment — rather  than just renting a room in an apartment gotten by others — and may take a sofa, kitchen table, bed, dresser, desk, etc.  

“How about your toy chest?” I ask.  But Soon-to-be-Abandoned suspects he’s barely going to have room for the things that will  be useful, and doesn’t quite see a role for the toy chest in his as yet imaginary hip Brooklyn digs.  Even with our plan for furnishing Soon-to-be-Abandoned’s place, we will have plenty of furniture left.  Turns out the Salvation Army will send a truck.  Good. 

Another milestone.  Mr. NYer has agreed to part with some LPs.  We sat together on the dining room floor and made the first pass using a simple rule:  get rid of any records that we have either digitized or have in CD format.  That eliminated a cool 25%, and there are now several 16-inch high stacks of records awaiting their fate.  Some have been scooped up by Soon-to-be-Abandoned, who admits he’s not sure what he’ll do with them.  The rest will be offered to several twenty-something phonophiles who have recently discovered records, or to the folks on Craigslist who buy in bulk. 

The records are weight.  Not in any spiritual or psychological sense.  They’re just plain heavy.   The mere memory of hauling milk crates of LPs around when I was younger gives me a backache.  

Another source of weight came in the form of my bank collection.  I love banks, and have since childhood.  My mother always had a bank or two in the house, and I think I learned to count by helping her roll pennies.  She showed me how to stack them in groups and count by five, then slip the wrapper over my thumb, slide the stacks into the roll and finish by neatly folding down the ends.   We had a big Anchor Hocking amber glass piggy bank.  No rubber stopper for that one.  You had to turn it upside down and shake the coins out, or — as my mother demonstrated — slide a knife into the coin slot and ease them out in a stream. 

When my mother began to work in “the city” (Manhattan), she banked at the Seaman’s Bank for Savings, for which she was rewarded with banks.  The first, which I still have, was a cardboard cannister printed with a clipper ship and topped by a removable slotted metal lid.  Better yet, though, were the sailor banks they began dispensing sometime in the mid-60s.  The sailor, clad in creamy whites, strides along in his ample bell bottoms, with jaunty nautical hat and bag slung over his shoulder.  The coin slot sits atop the bundle, and the sailor reminded me of Gene Kelly in On the Town.  Who wouldn’t want to save?

My bank collecting began in earnest around the time my oldest niece  was born.  In the A&S department store, I  found a musical Raggedy Ann and Andy bank and bought it for her  first Christmas.  What I didn’t know was that my mother bought an identical one for me and thus started me as a collector.  On every vacation, I hunted the souvenir shops for banks, and snagged a mini Tower of London, an old Maine fisherman, an upright piano in New Orleans, a cable car in San Francisco.

Banks are practical collections.  Nice to look at, they justify the space they occupy by virtue of the fact that they promote  saving and delayed gratification.  The summer I worked as a carhop at  A&W Root Beer I began the nightly habit of depositing the day’s change in a bank.  Soon I stopped looking for exact change when I purchased something, but deliberately broke a dollar to increase the coins in my purse, and the savings in my banks.  Every few weeks, I pulled out the coin rollers and sat at the kitchen table rolling pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters.  

More than a few years ago, I noticed that it was harder and harder to snag a bank during vacations.  The souvenir shops switched to mugs, shot glasses, key chains and  T-shirts.  Banks,  like thrift itself, disappeared.

So I turned to eBay, where I joined those who favored still banks as opposed to mechanical ones.  I began looking first for the banks that banks gave out, but grew over time to like pigs.  So elemental. But I’m not exclusive.  I’ve got banks that look like buildings, an entire set of Anchor Hocking piggies in various colors, the Liberty Bell, Mr. Peanut, a couple of bears, a pink elephant, a NYC taxi and a London phone booth.  I’ve also got a tiny milk bottle that says “W.I.N.!” for Whip Inflation Now — that was from the 70s.   They are scattered throughout the house, and I fill them regularly, trying to use them equally. For some reason, I especially like to throw Mr. NYer’s loose change into them. 

I’m not usually in need of the spare twenty or thirty dollars these days, nor do I go into brick and mortar banks often and pick up coin wrappers, so I rarely roll those coins. (Do banks still give out coin wrappers?)  But the collection needs to move, and it makes no sense to travel full.  Too heavy, and too likely to break.  By the armful, I carried banks to the dining room table.  Together, Mr. NYer, Soon-to-be-Abandoned and I pried off the stoppers and shook, knifed and otherwise emptied the contents into a plastic jug. 

I’m told there’s a bank where you can just bring in the coins, pour them into a machine, and get your cash.  But that sounds too easy.  I think I’ll spend a few evenings stacking the change and putting it into rolls.