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Someone gave me a notebook full of…?

January 19, 2015


Sunday morning I was waking up over a coffee at the McDonald’s in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue. I was sitting in the particular window seat that allows me to both plug in my laptop and keep an eye on my bike and trailer.

I wasn’t paying attention though and another homeless person on the sidewalk had to bang on the window inches from my head in order to alert me to the fact that an elderly woman was “interacting” with my trailer.

Over the years I have caught a few people trying to steal things off my bicycle trailer but more people have gotten away with something while I wasn’t watching: bags of returnable containers, two Avalon milk bottles, bike tools and once, three of the neatly folded garbage bags I use to hold the returnable beverage containers I collect to earn money.

It also happens that sometimes people leave things on my trailer: bottles, loose change, packages of food, even garbage.

Sunday morning I watched the woman walk away empty-handed, which suggested she had made some kind of deposit rather than a withdrawal; the homeless panhandler and the restaurant patron sitting beside me both took it as given that she had left me some money.

Which is exactly what she did, after a fashion.

A heavy gift


What I found jammed in the back of the trailer was an old brown, Hilroy-brand, spiral-bound, school notebook; a “3 Subjects in One Book” combining “No. 4050 – Narrow Ruled” pages and “No. 4052 – Wide Ruled” pages.

Along the bottom of the brown paperboard cover were spaces for a person’s name and address — both filled out in barely-discernible blue ballpoint pen.

I could clearly read the name: “Teddy ____”, because it had also been repeatedly written all over the last lined and yellowing page of the notebook, in a decidedly adult longhand.

Half of the original pages were torn out yet the notebook was quite heavy. That was due to all the pennies — and two quarters and one dime — taped to four of the remaining pages.


A silver U.S. quarter from 1941 showing a visibly worn-out George Washington.

It looked like a very amateur coin collection; the result, I guessed, of someone regularly looking through the change in their pockets and putting aside the coins bearing the oldest dates — putting them aside and then carefully fixing each of them down in a notebook with a piece of shiny clear tape.


Two shiny Canadian pennies from 1964.

There were originally 93 coins taped down on the four pages; 12 of the pennies were gone and four were loose in the notebook and eight quarters were gone.

Most of the clear plastic tape was yellowed with age and most of the coins, both U.S. and Canadian, were tarnished and/or worn. There were no “fine” examples of old coins to be seen.

The two quarters and one dime appear to be worth the value of their silver, which is maybe $9. To my eye the pennies almost all look equally worthless but perhaps I should give the person who collected them some credit. For instance, two of the only shiny pennies are 1964 Canadian coppers, which are being offered online for between nearly $2 and $12 each.

A penny for her thoughts?


An American Lincoln penny from 1937.

Holding the notebook in my hands, I can feel the physical weight of the coins. I can even research their market value but this won’t tell me their sentimental value and I will never feel the the extra emotional weight in memories that the notebook may have held for the woman.

All I know is that for some reason she deliberately carried it around with her until she saw an opportunity to anonymously give it to a stranger.

Maybe she did it for her own peace of mind as well as to try and help someone in need.

Maybe this was her way of letting go of the past so that she could move on emotionally.

Maybe she was just doing some long-overdue house cleaning.

Maybe all of the above.

Like I’ll ever know.

In any case I thank her (like she’ll ever know). Click the images to enlarge them.

  1. Olives28 permalink

    Hi Stanley..just wanted to say I love your blog. It brightens my day every time I read it.

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