Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What? No candy on Halloween? *What* then?! (Oct. 27, 2007)

Current mood: thoughtful

No, indeed, I do not give out candy on Halloween. Never have. Well, not exactly true; there is some candy available, but that's not the main event.

I give out coins. No, not plain old money, collector coins. I'm a numismatist.

Each year that I've lived here in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, I've given out something different. Let's see if I can recall some of them:

* "V" nickels.
* 1943 steel cents, with a magnet
* Eisenhower dollars
* Silver Certificate $1 bills
* Canadian provincial quarters (the first year we had our U.S. state quarters)
* British pennies; note that the U.S. has only and always minted cents, and has never referred to them as "pennies".
* Medals with dinosaurs on them, the year that one of "The Land Before Time" movies came out.
* Kennedy half dollars.
* 1897 Indian Head cents, in 1997.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to make kids' eyes bulge out with things they've never seen before. My job as an educator is to instill in them a sense of wonder and excitement.

What a wonderful opportunity I have each year! Kids come up on my porch by the dozen, looking for a handout, and I willingly give it to them! Only in my case, they do not get something they eat, but instead they get something they can keep! Forever! It might even be worth something.

In the last few years, as I've seen my clientele get younger and younger, I've included a note along with the coin, explaining what it is, and why I give them out. I also include my name and address, in case any parent wonders where the kids got the thing. While I never have had a parent call me to question the handout, I've had some neighborhood kids come by a couple of days later to see if I have any extras. (Which I did, and gladly gave them what I had.)

Of course, I cannot give out things that have a whole lot of value. On a good evening, I might get 25 kids. If I got 250, it might be a different story and not be able to give out anything. But on the other hand, I know plenty of people who drop $30 to $40 on candy.

Don't expect me to hand out gold pieces from the 1840s, but stop by my house and you will get something that will make you think a bit!

Happy Halloween!

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