All Blog Posts

Four Bits

October 6, 2013

I’m just going to come out and admit that I’m oddly shaped. My legs are short but my torso is long, so long, in fact, that whenever I’m seated at a group gathering I’m always the tallest person present, that is until I stand. Because my legs are short I experience a problem when sitting that most people don’t have: change is constantly spilling out of my pockets. The last time I gathered up the change beneath cushions in our house the amount totaled $128.00.


Several months ago I was in a particularly nostalgic mood, remembering when movie theaters had velvet curtains that opened and closed, and cars had curb feelers, metal whiskers to alert elderly drivers (probably younger than I am now) that they were about to make contact with the curb. I flashed on my grandpa who passed away in 1976. It occurred to me that I’m built much like he was.


When I was a kid my brother David and I would often spend Saturday nights at my grandparents’ house while Mom and Dad painted the town. On Sunday mornings after church and a huge breakfast, Dave and I would sit on the front stoop and wait for Dad to pick us up. Grandpa would appear, his bulldog face shaded by his trademark fedora. He’d thank us for the visit, reach into his pocket and pull out a rubber coin pouch, extracting  four bits for me and four bits for my brother. I later learned that two bits was a quarter.


These coin pouches (purses sound femmy) were sent in the mail emblazoned with advertising. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, and insurance agents all gave away these rubber squeeze toys that held change. Most were tossed in the garbage. I hadn’t seen one in decades but suddenly I was determined to acquire one. I searched everywhere, toy stores, drug stores, shops that sell advertising swag, but none were to be found.


A month ago Mrs. C. and I drove out to the Columbia Gorge to see the waterfalls before winter set in. We paused at the small town of Troutdale and enjoyed lemonade in a store designed to look like a turn of the century ice-cream parlor. On a rack by the cash register hung a collection of vintage toy replicas, including half a dozen, brightly colored rubber coin purses. They cost $2.50 each. I selected an emerald green one and handed the kid behind the counter three bucks.


I was so elated to obtain the focus of my quest that I said to the kid behind the cash register, “You can keep the four bits.”


“Four bits?” He cocked his head and looked at me with that expression young people have that translates: How f****ng old are you?


“Never mind,” I said, taking my change.


He handed over my quarters and I deposited them in my new rubber coin purse. Yeah, it’s a purse—wanna make something of it?  Now if only I can find those metal feelers to keep me from scraping my damn tires on the curb.




What are you nostalgic for?   




I guess when big old wide white sidewalls went out of style, the curb feelers were no longer needed.
By: cranky on October 6, 2013
Some Sherbet lemons. I used to love them as a kid. Well all the old fashioned sweets. That's candies to you. ;)
By: LL COOL JOE on October 6, 2013
I get nostalgic for homemade ice cream. I tell my kids we made it with salt and a crank they look at me the same way as your kid behind the counter.
By: David Walston on October 6, 2013
I want to clean your house for you. Free. I keep the change I find. I used to find a Milk Shake candy bar on sale in a store from time to time. I haven't seen one in years. I also miss restaurants of the past with a little jukebox at the table. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 6, 2013
Sometimes the most useful stuff drops out of our lives because people just don't make enough money out of them. I'm glad you found just the thing you needed. Now you need to think up a catchy name for them and market them at $15. !
By: Jenny Woolf on October 6, 2013
Curb feelers??? Never heard of them! I'm nostalgic for newspapers having novels in daily installments. Was that ever done in American newspapers? When I was a kid, German newspapers would devote about half a page every day to a novel; readers would read famous books in small installments over the course of a few months. I remember reading Jack London's "The Call of The Wild" that way.
By: Pixel Peeper on October 6, 2013
My grandfather had one of those coin holders, too, and what a great trip into memories you gave me after reading your story. Glad you found one-
By: Shelly on October 6, 2013
i think the coin purse is cool. but what i really loved was your grandfather thanking you for your visit. how incredibly sweet!
By: TexWisGirl on October 6, 2013
I just loved this story. I remember those coin purses so well. Spending time at my Grandma's house when I was a kid was the very best of times for me. Her house was old and her attic was filled with "stuff" from the 1800's. Me and my brother used to go up there for hours. I loved that musty smell and the wooden beams. Grandma used to have a red jewelry box that I would play with. All her jewelry was in it and i would try it all on. My Grandma was born in 1898 so you can imagine the jewelry that box held. I'd love to have that today. No idea where it went. Thanks for making me smile.
By: Bouncin Barb on October 6, 2013
Mike uses one of those coin purses - his is from The Apple Barn Winery in Pigeon Forge Tennessee :)
By: The Bug on October 6, 2013
Wow I remember those things. Sometimes I get nostalgic for things like mix tapes. A playlist just isn't the same. There was a certain art in being to milk every possible second out of each side of the tape.
By: PT Dilloway on October 6, 2013
What am I nostalgic for? It's NOT cat's-eye glasses or paper straws. I'd have to say drive-in movies, with a paper grocery sack of popcorn popped in a pan at home, and tall glass bottles of Pepsi in a brown metal cooler, with the kids dressed in their pajamas so they could lay up on the ledge by the back windshield when they were ready to sleep.
By: Val on October 6, 2013
We had those coin pouches, and i used to like them.
By: mimi on October 6, 2013
I just saw a couple of those rubber coin pouches at Home Depot. I suddenly remembered my brother coming home from school many years ago bragging about it which he found by the school gate after class. That alone brought back so many happy memories.
By: Anne on October 6, 2013
I have short legs...29 in. Try finding pants with a 29 in. leg.
By: red on October 6, 2013
I'm nostalgic for brown hair. Don't worry about your body shape. As for me, I have a "Barney Rubble" physique.
By: Al Penwasser on October 6, 2013
Oh, Red, I feel ya. Didja ever notice that most pants with a 29 inseam have something like a 44 inch waist?
By: Al Penwasser on October 6, 2013
hahahah I actually have one of those cool change purses! Got it from Blue Sky Gallery in Portland Oregon as a Membership card some years back- it says " Time for change" Cheers Stephen and I wish I had had a Grandpa like yours- mine all died before I was even a twinkle in my mothers eye!
By: Kathe W. on October 6, 2013
I do miss the old time radio shows they'd play now and again like Amos and Andy, The Jack Benny Show, Abbot and Costello and so many more. Oh... you can pickup a coin-holder by visiting
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 6, 2013
Oh I remember those so well. My Dad sold them in his store.. probably 10 cents each.. maybe 5. Your grandfather sounded like such a darling man.
By: Hilary on October 6, 2013
Too many things to list. One of my favorites was my Lite Brite (or however it's spelled). A favorite TV show was The Little Rascals. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on October 6, 2013
I'm the same shape as you - short legs and a long body. Finding clothes can be a problem, my trousers are always too long and my shirts too short.
By: Bryan Jones on October 7, 2013
A couple of weeks ago we dug through my husbands old boxes in the storage room. We found several vintage treasures: an Incredible Hulk lunchbox, a Luke Skywalker action figure with his utility belt, and a spirograph set. The kids were AMAZED! It was so fun to see them put down the video games to play with these throwbacks from the 70's.
By: Nancy Felt on October 7, 2013
Licorice icecream. Do you remember that?
By: Madeleine McLaughlin on October 7, 2013
Necker knobs. Remember those? Ever have an opportunity to need one? ;) S
By: Scott Cody Park on October 7, 2013
Oh, that takes me back! I'm nostalgic for my pre-kids weight of 95 pounds soaking wet (I'm just plain short all over, Stephen!)
By: jenny_o on October 7, 2013
I could do with these car parts myself.........
By: John on October 8, 2013
We are all so different. I have a high waistline with longer legs. When I sit, I look underaged. Not that I'm very tall at almost 5' anyway :p
By: Jaya J on October 8, 2013
I'm nostalgic for the rides on my dad's Rembretta.
By: Jaya J on October 8, 2013
I used to own a coin purse--I guess I called it that--but I haven't thought of it in years until now. I had never thought of such a problem as you have, and I hope the coin purse does the trick for you. It's sad to see the young look at us like we're idiots when it's them who are ignorant.
By: Snowbrush on October 12, 2013

Leave a Comment


Return to All Blog Posts Main Page

RSS 2.0   Atom