My Silver Dollar

Many of you who visit my blog on a regular basis will be familiar with the name Nancy.  I first became aware of Nancy’s kindness and generosity over 40 years ago.  She was always ready to open her heart and her home to those in need.  I know two young boys who benefited from that nurturing care all those years ago, and to this day Nancy has a special place in their hearts.  It was almost 15 years later that I had the opportunity to meet Nancy and her husband Roy for the first time.  A strong bond was made that day and our friendship has grown with the years.

I confess that I introduced Nancy to the world of Blogs and she was reading away quite happily for a couple of months without realising that she knew who Grannymar was!  Through her constant comments we have had great wisdom and laughter.  Nancy should have her own blog.  Alas, I have failed to convince her to to join our ranks.  Some weeks ago I asked Nancy if she would like to provide me with a Guest Post, and today I print her story.  It shows an example of how Nancy operates – with an open mind and an generous heart.

The Silver Dollar Scheme

By Nancy Leitz

Most of the time, a small town simply tolerates a large military base that dominates the area. That was the case at the United States Air Force Base where we were living in 1962. There was no love lost between the airmen stationed at the base and the home-town folks.

It got to the point that the commander of the base issued an order for all military personnel to wear civilian clothing while off duty. That lessened their presence in the town. The townsfolk didn’t notice the Air Force people so much out of uniform, so it made it difficult for them to blame everything that went wrong on the Air Force members.

That worked for awhile and then things heated up again. The townspeople resented the young fellows looking at their daughters and asking them for dates. Something had to be done to settle this animosity once and for all. The business people in town had to be made to realize how much of their business came from these people that they were so critical of.

The commanding officer called in his comptroller/ paymaster and proposed a scheme that he hoped would put an end to the trouble between the two factions. Here is what he did.

He ordered that all personnel from himself on down to the newest airman (about 3,000 people) be paid in silver dollars on the next payday. There was no such thing as direct deposit in those days so everyone was used to getting a pay envelope – but not a pay envelope that he could hardly pick up. The silver dollars were very heavy and each person got an average of $200.00, so they were carrying around 200 silver dollars.

The scheme really hit that town like a ton of bricks (or dollars). Those dollars were deposited in the local bank, they were used at the gas station, the dry cleaners, the movies, the drive ins. They were put in collection baskets at every denomination’s church. They had to hire extra people to count the money at the various businesses and get huge bags to carry the dollars to the bank.

It worked!!! The town council invited the commanding officer to the next meeting and implored him to go back to paper checks in the pay envelopes. The business people had only to look around their businesses and see the silver dollars stacked up EVERYWHERE to realize how much of their livelihood they owed to the Air Force personnel who patronized their shops and restaurants and movie houses and car dealerships.

Things were never the same in that little town again. They were better.

18 thoughts on “My Silver Dollar

  1. Ian

    It’s like places where there are universities in small towns. The students are not always the most popular, but when they are not there the shops (and publicans!) quickly notice their absence.

  2. kenju

    Nancy, I have heard about that before, but I can’t think where. What a novel idea!

    I also didn’t know that you knew Grannymar. Like her, I would urge you to have your own blog, but if you don’t start one, just know that we who receive your comments and emails are blessed with your wit, your kindness and your fantastic memory!!

  3. Grannymar Post author

    @Ian – Very true. I have a friend in Dublin who complained about ‘The Poles’ coming over to Ireland and taking all the jobs. This friend has a second home well away from Dublin in a town with a large hospital, and is pleased to accept annual rent from Doctors on the staff. Suddenly their nationality and skin colour are forgotten.

    @Judy – It looked like a very delicate blue when I opened your blog this morning. I went back for a second look just now and this time it is a natural ivory colour. Put it down to being half asleep earlier.

  4. Nancy

    Hello Ian,

    You are so right! I live in a State (Pennsylvania) that has a huge University in a very small town.

    There are currently more than 43,000 students at Penn State University in a community with about 30,000 permanent residents. This accounts for some of the strife between what we call “Town and Gown”.

    But, just as you said, Ian, the residents of State College,PA depend almost entirely on the students to support their various businesses.

    I would ventutre to say that without the student’s business half of the shops in that town would close.

  5. Nancy

    Hi Judy,

    Yes, I have known Grannymar for over 40 years, but only met her in person in 1984 when we both attended a relative’s wedding in Dublin.

    I met up with her again a few years ago when I was visiting my friend in Dublin and GM very graciously invited us to come to Belfast on the train . She met us at the station and gave us a wonderful tour of the city which included a lovely lunch at the Crown.

    Then she told me about blogging and I began to follow various sites she told me about and I noticed that someone who called herself Grannymar was always writing in. It was months later that she told me that SHE was Grannymar. I wrote back to her that you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found that out…..

    Now here she is, the toast of the Town…. Winner of the Best Personal Blog in Ireland in 2008 and now invited to the President’s box at the St Patrick’s Day Parade.

    Yes, I am very proud to say that I know Grannymar…..

  6. Magpie11

    $0 years and she hasn’t persuaded you to start your own blog? How come I got nagged into doing it ? 😉

    That’s a great story…

    BTW Daffodil…here it has white trumpet and the palest blue petals!

  7. Nancy

    Hi Magpie,

    I have been enjoying your comments to GM for a while now.

    Only today I read on your site about the Hopi Indians and I will add my story of one of these same people.

    A woman was driving down the road in Arizona on her way home from the store where she had bought a bottle of wine for her husband. Suddenly she spied an old Indian woman on the side of the road. She stopped and asked the woman if she needed a ride. The Hopi woman got in the car and said not one word. The driver tried several times to start a conversation but the woman did not speak except to say yes or no.

    After they had riden for a few miles the Indian woman noticed the bottle of wine on the seat and said,”What is this?” The driver said, “That is wine I got for my husband.” The Hopi remarked ” Good trade!”

  8. Darlene

    I, too, consider Nancy a good friend. I have encouraged her to start her own blog because she is so funny, caring and just plain nice. Although I met Nancy through Ronni Bennett’s blog, Time Goes By, I now receive e-mails from her and they are always goodies. Her sense of humor is the greatest.

    Nancy is wise and thoughtful. I felt such a special bond with her that I asked her for personal advice and she gave me good council. I have never met her in person, but I feel as close to her as I do my sister.

    Nancy is very “special people.” I am surprised that you have known her for 40 years, Marie. What a blessing for both of you.

  9. Nancy

    Dear Darlene,

    Thank you for such kind remarks.

    You had the courage to start your own blog and it has been very successful with quite a few comments going back and forth.

    I especially admired the way you “Stuck with it” when photos or text failed to appear and there was no one to turn to for advice so you figured it out for yourself… That is very admirable ,and clever, I might add.

  10. Magpie11

    Thanks for your endorsement

    May I pinch that story and e-mail it to some of my friends?

    You know, with stories like that you should start some sort of blog if only to post stories.

    Which reminds me of another idea for a post…..

  11. Nancy


    Yes, of course you may use the story. I am happy that you enjoyed reading it.

    I have many stories like that one. One of my sons (I have 4 children ) asked me a few years ago about an incident that happened in our family and as I related the story to him it occured to me that when I die all of our family stories will go with me.

    So, I decided to write them all down so my children and grandchildren(8) would have them. I have always thought that when an old person dies, it is like the library burnt down. Who else knows what Aunt Minnie’s maiden name was? Or why Uncle Bob came to our house in the middle of the night once.

    There is a site called Elder Storytelling which is run by a wonderful and extremely intelligent woman named Ronni Bennett. She encourages people like myself to send her our stories and she publishes a different one daily. Visit her blog if you can and read the stories people like me send in. It’s great fun..

    Maybe you will end up sending Ronni a story yourself..

  12. Nancy

    Hi Baino,

    Thanks for your comment. Coming from the person I consider to be one of the very best writers in the Blogosphere, I am delighted that you enjoyed the story.

    I have followed your blog for ages and don’t always comment but I am a devoted “Lurker”.

  13. wisewebwoman

    It is so nice to meet Nancy through you, GM. Nancy: you are a great writer and tell a good story. I’m also a fan of Ronni’s. I think she’d like your stories too!

  14. Grannymar Post author

    Hi Nancy, thank you for keeping house yesterday while I was away at the Ulster Hall. I enjoyed reading this story again.

    As you can see from the comments above, I am not the only person to think you should have a blog. I wonder if yesterday would make you change your mind???

  15. MD


    I thought this blog post is fantastic. I’m glad I came across it. What a great point and method of showing the impact the base had on the local economy. Using silver dollars is brilliant. I’m sure it was a pain for the all the base personal though, but the point was made.

    Again, great post!


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