She had her own car. She had her own job. And most of all, she had that clear plastic zippered coin purse that always held an array of what seemed to be magical coins. This was the 1960’s when a nickel could get me a pretty nice candy bar. To see all that change in one place was enchanting. You didn’t even have to open it up — you could see what coins you had from the outside. How cool is that?
Of course, I didn’t realize that my grandmother worked in a factory at what was probably a pretty dull and/or back-breaking job, or that she was there because circumstances had forced her to work. I just knew that my mother — a housewife with no car or coin purses of her own — was in quite different circumstances. I know my mother had to cut coupons to scrape a little change for herself. Five cents off a can of Ajax would be her pin money.
The difference between these two women had an effect on me even at a young age. Even though I always thought I’d grow up to be just like my mom, I think there was a secret wish to be more independent like my grandmother. And every time I think about this distinction, the first thing that comes to mind is that magical coin purse. It had an undeniable power that still speaks to the 7-year-old inside me.