Messages from my money

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This week we bring you a column George Ostrom picked out from 1996 ... a national award winner...

It sure would be nice to hear from my money and not get to feeling down in the dumps. Dollars are a lot like some kids ... never letting their folks know how they’re doing. Others you hear from regularly but would be better of in ignorance.

Regardless, I constantly try to hear from my dollars ... even just a word to let me know they are still alive. That’s better than no word at all, and there is always the hope that some of them will be happy and accomplish something worthwhile.

April 15, of course, is the worst time, but the weeping, heart-rending farewells don’t stop there. Every month I kiss more of those dollars I’ve grown to love good-bye and send them off into the world, mostly to Washington, D.C. and the state capital.

It is a hard thing to do, especially after Iris and I have nurtured the precious little devils with love, sweat and sacrifice, from just a glint in the eye into pennies and watched them grow into dimes and 50-cent pieces. Seems like they are raised and gone before you know it.

Heard from some of my younger currency this week. The little dears are financing bear-resistant storage containers for loaning out to people going into the wilderness. I know that is not like having a regular job, but their letter says they are bringing in a few more dollars in donations to the various ranger stations where they hang out.

It is nice to know they are not getting into trouble, like some of my older money who wrote about all the fun they were having in Sen. Packwood’s office a few years back. They did mention the senator seemed to be one of those “hands on” type of guys.

A few months back, there was word that a bunch of my dollars had joined up with millions and millions of other taxpayer offspring and were busy with programs where unmarried teenage girls can get into their own apartments, along with food, clothing and medical care by getting pregnant as soon as possible.

That program has been so successful, they said, that 30 percent of all new babies born in America last year came along without all the bother of licenses, preachers an grooms. My money said they expect even better success this year. I have always preached to my little coins while they are growing up to go out and be productive members of society, but I obviously failed someplace.

Another of my dollars dropped me a card in June to report that he was helping take care of storage for the road kill collections at Yellowstone National Park. His job was to furnish electricity for the freezers. He said those are needed for preserving carcasses that haven’t been completely cured by the Goodyear/Asphalt tanning process. He said an average of one large animal per day was killed by vehicles during the tourist season, so they are kept pretty busy. I was glad to hear that because we all know it is the idle dollars that get into really big trouble.

One of my neighbor’s dollars reported seeing a few of mine down in Bozeman last month after getting a job with the federal Center For Disease Control. I immediately wrote them care of the Southern Montana Aids Coalition and was gratified by a long letter home.

They said they are helping a 23-year-old woman who is about to start handing out condoms and sex advice to customers at the bars in the Gallatin Valley. In the beginning, the lady will have a coach who did this exciting work voluntarily last year. The coach, Pete Jaques, says, “It was the most immediately rewarding job I’ve ever done ... They would want me to sit down and have a drink and give them more information.” I’ve never wanted any of my money to hang around bars ... but I guess it’s OK if they are doing good work.

I read that letter from my Bozeman dollars and sat there slowly crumpling it in my hands, recalling the days of my youth. Perhaps a smile formed as I recalled those times long ago when young guys found themselves sitting with a pretty young woman in a dimly lit nightspot, listening to the music and praying someone on a government grant would come along ... and give a nice long talk on social diseases.

Yup, it isn’t all fun hearing from your money, but then if a guy is going to go out and work around, that’s the price he has to pay.

This column won the 1996 National Newspaper Association Award for Best Humor Column in the U.S. for weekly papers under 10,000 circulation.

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