A story about a 1909 cent found in the wild: (a bit long)
Back in the late 1970’s I was working as a house painter/fine woodwork refinisher and involved in the renovation
of an old house in Salinas, California.
It was summertime and it was an extremely hot and difficult job. I was painting the entire interior of the home as well as refinishing an elaborate array of built in cabinetry and book cases. The ventilation was terrible and the fumes and heat were suffocating. In order to expose some very nice wood flooring, we were tasked with the removal of some very old wall to wall carpeting and in the process of pulling up that old carpet, a brilliant- bright Lincoln cent was discovered, protected under that carpet for all those years! It was just as fresh and new as if it had come straight from the mint- in 1909! No s on it, but it was bright and flawless! It must have fallen out of a workers pocket when laying down that carpet in 1909. Not actively collecting at the time, I gave it to one of the younger guys I had working with me, a young strong local surfer- just 18. I must have been 21 or so and the elder of the group.
The fumes from the paint stripping solutions along with the dusts from all the sanding were not healthy and I encouraged all working with me there to wear their masks. This was before old paints were tested for lead content by the way. Those of us that knew enough just assumed all the old stuff contained lead. Being young, strong and somewhat invincible myself, I’d work in that 100 plus degree place all day, wearing my mask while drenched in sweat and then finish the day off with a couple of beers! Hydration? That’s what the beers are for- right? My young friend chose not to wear his mask, as it was already difficult enough breathing in the stifling heat.
Nearing completion of this project, during a routine dentist visit, my young pal was informed by his dentist that he had lead poisoning- as diagnosed by observation of very dark line visualized in his gums. Full blown lead poisoning!
Around the same time, I developed a fierce swelling, redness and pain in my right foot. No trauma, but the pain at the base of my large toe felt very much like the pain accompanying a fracture! I knew this from experience.
My doctors visit and some X- Rays offered a diagnosis of gout! A disease, which at that time, I had only read about in some history books.
Years later I heard that my young friend suffered decades of complicated health problems and had traversed a very difficult path in life.
Fortunately, my episode of gout was easily resolved with proper hydration, medication, luck, and just cleaning my body
out to give my kidneys a better chance to do their job.
Having rekindled my interest in collecting again these past years, I often find myself thinking back on that beautiful 1909 cent and wondering just what became of it. It really was beautiful!
Another little lesson here....
If you hire a crew of surfers, be prepared to be working alone if an epic- long interval swell comes charging in from distant storms.... unless, you too are a surfer, in which case, there will be hard choices and sacrifice all along the way!
Happy, humble, honored and proud recipient of the “You Suck” award 10/22/2014