My father died Sunday at 10:10 p.m. I was with him at the end. Other family members were at his side as well.
That is why there was no blog post yesterday.
At times like this, memories flood my mind. Some are even appropriate for this space.
I have paid tribute to my mother’s role in making me a coin collector, but I believe my father played his part as well.
He was born during the Great Depression. Times were tough. He learned the value of a dollar and hard work.
Those values he wanted to pass on to me.
This is a long process. Children don’t simply take orders to properly value money and labor.
My father was an accountant. His was a world of numbers and financial concepts.
Before I became a coin collector, he showed me a Series 1953 Red Seal $2 United States Note. He told me you didn’t see $2 bills often. I was fascinated. I was 6 or 7 years old.
It became mine. I don’t know if he gave it to me on the spot, or if the process took a little bit longer.
In any event, I got it. I kept it. I still have it.
In a child’s world of small allowances and candy stores, that note was a vehicle to what are now called teachable moments.
Like every child, I wanted more than I could have. But some things were just a stretch. My father would lend me money when I was in a tight spot if I would post the $2 bill as collateral with him. The understanding was if I did not pay back the loan, I would not get the $2 bill back.
I don’t know how often I did this. It was more than once, but it was not a regular occurrence.
In small steps like this I learned how the world worked.
My father might have taught his lessons too well. I not only learned the value of a dollar, I eventually learned to value all the dollars ever struck by the U.S. Mint as well.
When I discovered that silver dollars existed, I asked for some. One day he brought two home for me and two for my younger brother.
I was a bit jealous because being a budding collector I realized that I had two 1923 Peace dollars while my brother had a 1922 and a 1923.
But I learned. I still have those two silver dollars.
It wasn’t long before I was doing things myself. I had not yet reached my 9th birthday when the Kennedy half dollar was released.
My mother gave me the 90 cents required to buy two at the local bank on the condition that one would go to my brother. (Yes, the bank sold them at a discount when paid for with scarce change during the coin shortage).
In small town America, an 8-year-old like me could walk downtown to the bank by himself, wait in a long line and come home with the halves.
I had a wandering streak at the time as I explored my world and coins were part of the world I was discovering.
As I became older and progressively more independent, my father’s role diminished. But it had been enough.
After those early days I was firmly and always a collector.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”