Ten Cents

I was inspired to write this morning by the framed pencil drawing that is on my wall. It was created by my son, Duncan, when he was in high school. I love this picture not only because it captures so much of who he is, but also the values that I tried so hard to instill in him.

10¢ ENJOY (by Duncan McDermott Graham)

The first thing I see when I look at it are foot prints heading down a corridor to an open door that looks out onto the world. On one side of the corridor there is a shelf full of books. On each of the spines are words; stuff, home, cereal, magic, tales, pictures, things to see, music, etc.  And right on the edge of the bookshelf are the biggest words of all:

—10¢ ENJOY

As a single mom, I tried my best to get us along. There was a child to raise, food to put on the table, clothes to put on our backs and a roof to put over our heads. I don’t need to tell you how much work that can be. We survived and although we didn’t have a lot of money, I think we had a very high quality of life.

One of our favorite things to do was yard “sale-ing”. It was a regular Saturday morning activity. We had no idea where we would end up or what we would find. Sometimes before we set off in our old blue Toyota wagon, we would speak out loud what it was that we were looking for.

One time I needed a new set of dishes. The ones I had bought when I was 16 years old, were almost history. 42 years later I have one or two plates and a pitcher from what was once a service for 8. I found an entire set for $5!

Another time I found a Cuisinart, one of the original ones, and it was exactly like the one I was given for Christmas by my daughter’s grandparents in 1979. It had a tag for $8 on it but since it was half price Sunday, that brought it down to $4. Amazing!

Duncan would find trucks, legos and books to add to his collections. Still brings a smile to my face when I think about his treasures.

In the fall of  2001, my dear friends, The Rivers, who live just across the street from my cottage on the Olympic Peninsula, decided to have a yard sale. Nancy has been my best friend for years and I am god-mother to daughter, Katie. Nancy and I home-schooled our boys together and she was just about to have her 4th child. It was wonderful to see her walking around with a huge goddess belly in front of her. A yard sale was a great way to exercise those nesting urges that soon-to-pop mamas seem to get.

Being that it was so close to home, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to clear out boxes that had been following me around for years from house to house. On the appointed Saturday morning, I got up early and made a few loaves of bread. Then after repeated trips across the street with blankets and boxes, I began to spread it all out, setting out “my treasures” in hopes that they would find perfect new owners.

Extra kitchen utensils, boxes of old sheet music that had belonged to my mother (yah, I wish I had kept some of it), knick-knacks, a gas powered weed whacker that had never been used, books, sweaters and more. I sat down in a lawn chair and let the fun begin.

“How much is that blue sweater?”
“Ten cents.”
“I’ll take it.”

A couple spied the music.

“How much is that box of music?”
“Ten cents.”
“For the whole thing?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yup, Everything is ten cents!”
“No way!”

Nancy’s husband Michael, a carpenter and a musician, had an upright piano on a trailer in front of the house for sale.

Is that 10 cents, too?”, some one asked.
“Nope, but it’s ten cents for a tune!”

We all laughed at that.

Duncan was there, too. Watching the fun. Bringing some of his toys, books and games over that he had outgrown.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon, watching folks, old and young, look through stuff and be astounded and surprised at the universal price of 10 cents. Kids loved it because they had the same buying power as their parents.

“Is that weed whacker new?”
“How much are you asking for it?”
“Ten cents.”

There was no amount of money that could ever come close to equaling how much I enjoyed myself that day. Just about everything at the my ten cent sale found new homes and everyone went away smiling. Then too, they might have been wondering just who that crazy lady was who priced everything at 10 cents.

At the end of the day, I had made a few bucks, probably enough to cover the cost of the slices of the fresh bread that I sold that were slathered with butter for a buck. I made more money on that!

But, what still fills me to this day with great happiness are the memories and what Duncan wrote on the side of the bookcase in the picture.

—10¢ ENJOY

I think he got it.

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  1. says

    :-) I remember some folks almost undone by the “ten cents!”…generosity, no strings attached???
    That was a blessed day. Thanks for re-gifting it to us!

  2. Margaretha says

    You and Duncan are some of the richest people in the world. And in the early 70s, you fed me when I didn’t have a dime.

  3. says

    What a wonderful story. I wish more kids were raised with this attitude – it’s not all about money, but giving and receiving in equal measure of other things (like smiles, great stories, help). Thanks for sharing this Kate.

  4. Antonia says

    What a great story!! And so well written. made me smile. Give that boy a hugand a dime!

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