It all started when Shannon was very young. My Mom loved buying her fancy clothes. Mom finally had a granddaughter. Frilly dresses, little coats to be worn only on Sunday. My job, more or less was to keep Shannon in everyday clothes. When Mom bought something really fancy, I’d make an appointment at Olan Mills for a photo shoot to capture the moment forever. We had a lot of pictures taken. I’ve even saved some the of adorable outfits.
|Shannon in pj’s looking silly. You can bet grandma Flo did NOT buy this. 1971…|
It’s the early ’70’s. Dad was still mowing shoulders and ditches, plus plowing snow for the State of Iowa Hiway Commission. Mom had been in the hospital. I think it was a skin disorder that actually ended up being quite serious for a couple years. It was called Mycosis Fungoides. How do I even remember that? I surprise myself sometimes. Mom would get deep, debilitating cracks (called fishers) on her hands and feet. For awhile it was so bad she couldn’t walk. I think it’s a form of skin cancer. She went to Mayo Clinic several times for treatment. Used this black tar-like cream on the cracks. Twenty odd years later she would develop non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Wonder if Mycosis was a precursor? I digress. Anyway, after one of these hospital visits Mom brought home this plastic, styrofoam covered water jug. You remember the ones nurse’s aids brought a couple times during their shift to patients? It wasn’t a fancy or pretty jug. Harvest gold, chintzy plastic covered in foam to keep the water cold, and help eliminate sweating on the hospital tray tables. The spout has little plastic spaced tines. So the ice would stay in The Jug.
|The Jug, now over 40 years old…|
Mom decided not to toss out The Jug. She started throwing her change in it instead. Not all of her change mind you. She never put in quarters. She saved quarters in another one of her jerry-rigged banks. Mom and Dad both had dentures. They used Polident Tablets to clean them at night. I think they owned stock in the company. Polident Tablets came in tall green cylinder shaped tubes. With a screw lid. After the tube was empty, Mom would start filling it with quarters. The quarters fit in the tubes perfect. Each tube held $18.75 in quarters. This was Mom’s mad money. Meaning she usually spent it on Shannon. Buying those fancy dresses, coats and outfits. She had some funny priorities. Thought nothing of buying Shannon a dress that cost about as much as a dress for herself. Do you think she would spend $1.98 on a new paring knife? Nope. Or have a car with a radio or air-conditioning? Nope. So quarters were off limits in The Jug. She kept The Jug on the counter of her very neat kitchen at all times. Whenever she came home from shopping, she’d empty her billfold of all change. Separate the quarters and plunk them in the green Polident tubes. The rest she would slide between the tines of the pour spout. She soon had Dad talked into dumping his change into their unusual banking system. I don’t think he jumped on her quarter bandwagon though. Since there were never any quarters in The Jug, I don’t remember or know what he did with his.
|One of Mom’s fancy dresses for Shannon when she was 2-1/2. The Olan Miils pic is packed away…|
Whether it was a trip to Koster’s in Rock Valley, or Shriver’s in Sioux Falls Mom did the same thing every time. Didn’t matter how many stops she had made that day. If she bought something that totaled $4.01, she would hand them a 5 dollar bill. The change compartment of her billfold might be weighted down by then with 10 pounds of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. But she NEVER EVER took out a penny for the .01 part to get back a dollar. She’d rather have the 99 cents change. That would add up to 3 quarters for Polident, 24 cents for The Jug. She was an awesome saver. An even more awesome shopper. She could out-shop me by hours, miles and bucks when I was 34 and she was 57. By then I was usually invited along for 2 reasons. She would occasionally ask my opinion on an outfit. But usually it was clothes for her as opposed to something for Shannon. My opinion wasn’t asked or needed when it came to what she wanted to buy for Shannon. The other reason I was along was my eyes. Mom wasn’t vain, but she really needed reading glasses and hadn’t bought a pair. She couldn’t read the price tags on the clothing.That was my job. Traipsing after her in the Alfred Dunner, Sag Harbor or Koret of California aisles. Letting her add up the totals for a pantsuit and a new blouse. If something was on sale, she could figure out what 25%, 30% or 33% off was faster than I could say the prices. It always irritated Mom when she overheard a customer asking a clerk how much something was if there was a percentage off sale going on. She’d kind of roll her eyes in disgust if a jacket cost 50 bucks and was 20% off. Holy moly that didn’t require 3 seconds to figure out. Mom was very smart, and good with numbers. Read our entire World Book Encylopedia set.
Mom decided the money in The Jug was for Shannon. Just a little something extra Mom wanted to do for her. Mom chose high school graduation as the date when the money would be turned over to Shannon. Hopefully to be used for something at college. When The Jug got filled to the rim the first time, she hauled it off to the bank. Started a savings account in hers and Shannon’s name. The bank had one of those coins counters. Mom would bring the now light as a feather styrofoam jug back to the house, place it in the same place on the counter and start all over.
|Shannon on Grandma’s back. Hopelessly devoted in early 1972…|
I didn’t know what would happen when Joshua was born 4-1/2 years later. Mom loved her grandchildren, but it’s hard to deny that there was always something special about how she felt about Shannon. Her only granddaughter. Often when I was there for a visit, Mom would ask me to take The Jug to the bank for her. Not her favorite errand. But the first time it needed to be cashed in at the bank when Josh was a few months old, she said she’d take it instead. Came back with 2 maroon leatherette bank books. She informed Dad he’d better start drinking coffee out more often, and not to give change for tips anymore. Better to give dollar bill instead. The Jug was now split between Shannon and Joshua.
|Shannon and Joshua. Good times, 1976..|
When Adam surprised us with his unexpected addition to our family 4-1/2 years later, The Jug was split 3 ways between the maroon bank books. Since both Mom and Dad were still working they accumulated a lot of change. Especially if you always refused to use any change in paying for something. I’ve always been surprised how close the savings totals were for all three kids. I don’t think the amount was more than a few bucks different for any of the kids. At their high school graduation, each one totaled around $1,200 bucks. Without quarters. Amazing.
|Shannon, Joshua and Adam with their hat collection. Early 1980…|
After Shannon graduated and got her money, The Jug was split between Josh and Adam. That only lasted a couple years. I became a grandma to awesome, beautiful, smart Ariana one month after I turned 40! Who knew that rather difficult time in our lives would be one of the richest, biggest and best blessings for all of us!! Thanks God! Great grandma Florence felt the same way. The boys would now be splitting The Jug 3 ways again. This time with Ari. After Mom passed away in 2004 and 88 year old Dad moved to Michigan to be with us, I brought The Jug to our house. Dad still added his change now and then, but John and I accepted the huge responsibility of keeper/saver of the change for the grandkids. Besides Dad helped Shannon when she was in graduate school. John and I were both working and acquiring change everyday. Neither of us used Polident, so quarters were now being added to the stash.
|The exquisite Ariana with her Mommy at our house. Early 1992…|
Now that we’re retired, there are a lot less plunking change going through the tines of the water spout in The Jug. We don’t go as many places or eat out very often. Takes us a lot longer to get The Jug filled up. Our bank doesn’t have a change counter, so John has to roll all the coins. Every time I bring the loose change to the bank I’m mortified. Seems these savings accounts go into some kind of dormant state if you don’t make a deposit after several months. The manager has to come over, always giving me a stern look. Geez it feels like grade school. He emphasizes yet again, “Denise if you could just stop in and deposit a penny in each account, we wouldn’t have go through this.” (No really I like being embarrassed and humiliated when I try and bring money INTO your bank. This works just fine for me. Dude, chill).
|Finally, out of The Jug and ready for deposit-3-ways…|
We now have 4 fantastic grandchildren. But Ari has her money already, so The Jug is now being split 3 ways again. We’re going to have to do some hustling to get the total up past a grand for Landon. He’s nearing $700. and has 4 years to go. Maybe if John and I each got part time jobs. Requiring us to eat out, or at least grab a coffee with some regularity…
|Mother’s Day gift 2014. 2 sided throw, goofy pose on this side. My fave…|