A Penny’s Worth

By Bill Shepard

When I was a young teenager, I worked on weekends in a small store near the village where I lived. I could not count the time that I heard the words, “I want a penny’s worth of candy.” A little hand would be clutching a brown copper coin inside. I would reach for the penny and place a penny’s worth of candy inside. It is amazing what a penny would buy that long time ago. The penny has become of less value through the years; it has become of such little value that the government has at times considered doing away with it. They say it costs more to mint one that it is worth! There must be mountains of the little “brownie” hoarded away in jars, boxes, stockings and piggy banks! Is there anything that you can purchase for one penny today? I’ve been thinking hard, and I can’t come up with one thing!

Bill Shepard

Bill Shepard

At one time, the little coin could boast that it went to church more often than any other coin. I can recall the times when on Sunday mornings an adult would enter the store and exchange a nickel or a dime for pennies. I would watch the person place a penny or two in the hands of their small children with the words, “This is your Sunday School offering.” In the little church where I served as pastor way back in the early ‘40’s, I could count more pennies in the offering plate than there were nickels and dimes. A quarter in the offering plate looked as big as a wagon wheel! That’s another story!

Like I said, a penny is worth whatever it will buy. Here are some of the things I could purchase with a penny when I was a little boy. For one penny, I could purchase a big red or grape sucker (lollipop) that if licked would last all day. They were called “all day suckers”. I could buy a Baby Ruth, Butter Finger, or Mr. Goodbar for a penny, and it was nearly as long as one costing near a dollar today. For one penny, I could get five Hershey silver bells, or three Mary Janes. Wow! What a bargain! I could purchase a small pack of salted peanuts for one penny, and if I had a nickel, I could get an R.C. Cola to wash them down! Near Christmas time, I might purchase an apple or an orange for a penny.

On my way to school, I might stop by the store and buy a pencil with an eraser on it for a penny, and to go with it, I could get three sheets of notebook paper.

There was no bigger bargain than getting a penny postcard that could be sent anywhere in the U.S.A.! Just think what a bargain that was!

I bet some of you can think of other things you could purchase for a penny! Have fun trying!

Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. Signed copies of Mr. Shepard’s books “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised” are available for purchase at the News and Press office. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week.

Author: Duane Childers

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