Your Money is No Good Here

It’s good to compare notes with your family. My brother just told me my dad helped his brother-in-law counterfeit quarters back in the 1930s. Daddy’s oldest sister, Aunt Jenny, married Uncle Chester, a bona fide reprobate, a rabble-rousing drunk who enlisted Daddy to help with his quarter counterfeiting business. I don’t know if Daddy would have even qualified for reform school if he’d gotten caught, since he was just a hungry little kid trying to win a place at Aunt Jenny’s table for a few days. Mama and his younger sisters were about to starve since his own father was sick in bed at his mother’s house. Grandma wanted nothing to do with her daughter-in-law and the grandkids, though she was willing to care for her son. The boys were pretty much working for room and board anywhere they could.

At any rate, Uncle Chester made pretty good quarters, a time-consuming job requiring a steadier hand than his, since he was rarely sober. According the Daddy, Uncle Chester made impressions of both side of quarters using Plaster of Paris casts lined with onion-skin paper. The steady hands were needed to line the molds up and glue them together, leaving a tiny pour-hole at the top, where they could pour in Uncle Chester’s special melted alloy. Once the ragged quarters set, a little artistry work was required to finish them off. Voila! Quarters!

 

 

 

 

Uncle Chester had no trouble passing his bogus quarters at the grocery store, the mercantile, and the hardware store. The problem came at the bar. Though he was normally stingy and careful, one night he got a snootful and wanted to buy a round for everybody in the house. Indiscreetly, he brought out a bag of quarters to pay his tab. They didn’t ring true when he poured them on the counter. The proprietor objected, Uncle Chester tore into him, and Uncle Chester ended up in Leavenworth.

That really wasn’t so bad. His cell-mate taught him to make twenty-dollar bills. Before long, Uncle Chester was out, but wasn’t able to pass his twenties because he couldn’t get the color just right. After a number of frustrating attempts, he poured up some quarters and headed back to the bar. When he poured his clinky quarters out on the bar, just as Uncle Chester anticipated, the bar-tender objected. “Are you telling me my money’s no good?” A fight and arrest ensued. Uncle Chester went back to Leavenworth for a refresher, polished his craft, and never had any more counterfeiting troubles.

All’s well that ends well.