This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rattling sound.
Charli mentioned a variety of rattling sounds:
- Hail – “Balls of ice the size of frozen peas” rattling on her RV
(Here’s a video of some pea-sized hail dancing in my garden recently.)
- Political divisions and discussions, with each side clamouring to be heard but only sounding “like discordant hail on a fiberglass roof”
(Remember that saying about “Empty vessels make the most noise?”)
- The saber-rattling incident in Chilean history “when a group of young military officers protested against the political class and the postponement of social measures by rattling their sabers within their scabbards.”
In her prompt, Charli suggests that the rattling sound could be “an intimidating sound of protest, a disorienting loud sound, a musical expression or a gentle baby’s toy.”
I thought of the rattle of coins – reasonably familiar in my childhood, less so now.
When I was a child, most transactions involved the use of cash – notes and coins. Back then, before the introduction of decimal currency just over fifty years ago, we had pounds, shillings and pence.
Decimal currency certainly made calculations easier but, though I remember my mother occasionally writing a cheque, transactions were still made mainly with cash.
I am from a large family and the finances didn’t stretch to pocket money. However, I do remember the occasional threepence to spend at the shop beside the school. I think they may have been gifts from the “tooth fairy”. How we agonised over which sweets to buy – maybe a rosy apple, four aniseed balls and some musk sticks.
Occasionally we might find a coin in the sand at the playground or beach, or be gifted one or two from an aunt, uncle or grandparent. Sometimes, when sent to the shop for bread or milk, we’d ask if we could keep the change. Sometimes the answer was “Yes”!
Although the anticipation of a purchase was heightened by the sound of a couple of coins jingling in a pocket or purse, we were also keen on saving them toward future desires.
The money box most of us had back then was a tin replica of the Commonwealth Bank’s head office in Sydney. The clink of coins being added to the box was music to our ears, as was their rattle as we shook it to determine how full it might be and how much we may have saved.
The trouble with these money boxes was twofold:
- It was impossible to do anything with them quietly, and
- It was practically impossible to extricate any coins once they were in. The tins could only be opened with a tin opener! Sometimes, with the right tool, the opening could be widened and one or two coins could be removed, but the shaking and rattling required was a real give-away.
How different it is for children today. Not only are many transactions made using credit or debit cards, many purchases are made online. No cash, no “money” is seen to exchange hands.
Nonetheless, it is still important for children to understand monetary values and to be able to calculate the cost of items. I think it is good for children to have pocket money for which they can make decisions regarding spending or saving. The ability to save up for something, to delay gratification, is an important part of maturation. I wonder how many of today’s children are sent to the store on their own and, if so, whether they can keep the change.
The use of technology means that even cashiers (is that term also becoming outdated, like hanging up the phone?) are no longer required to calculate. The register does that for them. Yes, they do have to count out the change, but that involves little calculation.
With the changing values, too, Australia no longer has one or two cent coins. Five cents is the lowest denomination, and I doubt that a child could buy anything with just one, not even an aniseed ball or a musk stick. I wonder how long before it too disappears.
While online shopping, and paying with cards and phones is becoming commonplace, it is still important for children to handle, recognise, and become familiar with money. They need to be able to compare the value of coins and notes, and perform calculations with them. It is important for children to realise that a greater number of coins doesn’t necessarily mean more money.
The images on the coins and notes also provide an opportunity for learning about our Australian animals and significant people and events in our history. Perhaps in the lifetimes of today’s children, coins and notes will go the way of our Imperial currency and become simply items in a museum and history lessons.
For my response to Charli’s prompt, I have gone back to the days of coins rattling in pockets and money boxes, when thinking of the wonderful things that a few coins could buy was pure delight.
Can I keep the change?
With the string bag slung over his shoulder and the purse clutched tight, he was on his first big boy errand. And, he could keep the change. He rattled the purse. What possibilities awaited. Should he hurry to get the money, or dawdle and contemplate? Regardless, he got there soon enough.
He handed the purse to Mrs Kramer, who extracted the list and gathered the items. As she counted the coins into the till, he announced, “I can keep the change.” She peered over her glasses, then held out one large brown coin. He trembled: what could he choose?
A penny for your thoughts!
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.