A Well Lived, Happy and Eventful Life
Yesterday, I finally gathered together a small sum of cash I'd been wanting to use for the purpose of buying some common silver coins, for use in the event of disaster to make purchases on the black market. I'm convinced that this will become an issue, maybe soon. I've been making these small purchases, as I can, for many years. If such a disaster never happens, I'll have a coin collection to sell to augment my retirement, should I ever decide to do so.
The gentleman 'bout whom I write will not. He'll die on the job, having lived a happy, healthy life.
I walked into his store in the early afternoon. It's a little hole-in-the-wall just off a major boulevard, almost unnoticeable among the sidewalk cafes and trendy shops. COINS & STAMPS, it says on the window. I stepped inside; there was no one there--just glass cases full of silver dollars, half dollars etc, and a wall covered with envelopes full of stamps.
An elderly man stepped out from the back room with a smile and a "Can I help you?" I told him I was looking for circulated, common date silver--probably half dollars. He directed me toward a case filled with various styles of halves--Franklin, Liberty Walking and Barber. I presume he had some Liberty Seated halves in the safe, but they're out of my price range and too valuable to use as cash.
After a few minutes looking at various coins and package deals, we settled on a package and a price.
I offered him my debit card, but he says he doesn't accept cards or checks; just cash. Well, fortunately I had enough cash to make the transaction. "I like to keep things simple," he said. I told him, "That's fine, I'll make sure I have cash with me in the future, as well."
By way of explaining his preference for cash, he started talking about his youth in Boston. In high school, he got a job in a coin and stamp store and began saving a little money. This was in the middle years of the Great Depression. He started putting a little money away just in case.
His parents were secure in their careers and he continued living at home even after he graduated high school . They wanted him to go to college, but he kept putting it off.
He rented a little storefront downtown for $20 a month and set up a coin and stamp store, not long after graduation.
He told me he would close the shop and go down the street to a deli for lunch each day, then go across the street to a Cadillac dealer and look at a particular black LaSalle coupe he liked. It was priced at $997. A 60 Series Cadillac's prices started at $1200. The salesman started referring to him as the "Lookie Lou." He studied that car every day for a long time. One day the salesman addressed him as "Lookie Lou" and asked him why he kept looking at the car.
"I'm going to buy it." "When?" "Now." "How are you going to pay for it?" the salesman chuckled.
"I'll write a check. You can call the ****** Bank and talk to Mr. ******."
Fact was, the young man-had, by that time, well over a thousand dollars saved up. He bought the car.
He was drafted into the Army in the early part of WWII. Because of his high scores in the tests, and his performance during basic training, he was kept on as a drill instructor. He attained the rating of Staff Sergeant. He was sent over to Europe in time to participate in the D-Day attack, where 17 of the 40 men in his platoon were killed or wounded.
After the war, he reopened his coin and stamp shop, married a lady who had been an Army nurse over there. They moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950's, where he opened another coin & stamp shop in downtown LA, then to where he is now. He worked alone in his shop every day except Sunday and Monday, though now he only opens for afternoons.
He'll be 90 this spring, and says he'll keep the shop open as long as he's able. He loves his work, and says it's what helps keep him healthy.
One of the neat things about my two-plus hour visit with him: No paperwork. I handed him the cash, he handed me the coins, and we shook hands. The way it's supposed to be.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!