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Embalm Your Pennies, Oh the Places You Will Go

A few years ago, I checked on how much it would cost a family of four to spend a week at the Orlando Disney Megaplex. After putting my eyes back in my head and lifting my jaw off the floor (I beat the 5-second rule), I asked my mother how it was possible for the four of us–her, my dad, my sister, and me–to go to Disney World and spend a week when I was a kid. She told me that it was a combination of income tax returns and Dad’s old embalming machine. Yes, you read that right.

Photo by Dave Spencer

My father was a funeral director and licensed mortician. Get the connection? Yeah, there was no running to K-mart to pick one of those things up; it had outlived its usefulness and he decided to bring it home and use it as a bank. I was a little kid so I never really noticed how full it would get and he kept it in his and Mom’s bedroom, anyway, so I rarely saw it. And, therefore, I wouldn’t notice that it would be empty after vacation. That’s when he would start filling it up for the next year. Like I said, he didn’t pay for our entire vacation with the pennies; even in a year’s time, that old embalming machine couldn’t hold THAT many coins. It was sort of a supplemental fund. And a great conversation piece. He also had a great big water cooler jug he filled with dimes, but that was hardly as interesting. Of course, I always wondered when he had the time to actually count out the pennies and put them in those little paper tubes. Surely, he didn’t just haul them into a bank and dump them out. In Vernal, Utah, that’ll land you a disorderly conduct fine. Nope, he took all those pennies or dimes or nickels–any coins he had actually–and sat at the kitchen table and separated them using those 50-cent paper coin things. Sound tedious? Well, my answer would be yes, but he loved it. And he loved the reaction he’d get when he’d bring all that loot in and lay it on the bank teller’s counter. And the next thing you know? Photo ops with Donald Duck and Goofy. Gotta love it.

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