Pennies in my handkerchief

By kateandcarla

January 10, 2011

Category: Uncategorized


I don’t believe a Sunday morning has passed in decades that my mind hasn’t returned to the stained-glass sanctuary of the Promise City United Methodist Church. For our little farming area, that sacred space on Highway 2 with its welcoming classrooms and big-kitchened basement was the focal point of family connection, community fellowship and legendary food.

Soup-and-pie suppers, ice cream socials, mid-winter fish fries. The groaning tables of the annual God’s Portion Sale.Oh, yeah and amen.

The peaceful worship area was filled with wonder for small children whose attention spans had yet to be stretched-and-stapled by adult responsibilities. There was the dome, echoing the sky, itself. The Seth Thomas clock, ticking strong and steady, just like the Iowa farmers in the pews. The baptismal pool, something of a mystery in a church still practicing immersion after the denomination moved on to sprinkling. And our architectural wonder of wonders:  the gently sloping hardwood floor canted at the perfect angle for shooting a single penny down to the altar, into the massive forced-air grate and spiraling through the vent work into the furnace below.

On occasion, those pennies were dropped by accident.

More often, they were strategically set in motion by the fun-loving boys who filled the back pew.

Now, I am not accusing my ever-grinning cousin Ron Thompson and his pals Gary Lord, Don Carpenter and David Tuttle of coin-careening. But the incidence (or would that be coin-cidence?) did seem to rise when these guys gathered. As did the giggles from the congregation as we waited for the fantastic sound effects.

Click. Whir-whir-whir. Clang-clang-clang. Silence.

A pretty good return on investment for a single copper.

Our mom was not a fan of penny ante.  Which probably explains why my coins for the Sunday School offering were tied in the corner of my handkerchief for many years. My sister Marilyn will tell you that it was she who struggled to get it untied on my behalf when the plate was passed, and that the task wasn’t made any easier by the fact that either my slobber or sweat had often tightened the knot into semi-permanence.

But as I tell her, blest be the tie that binds.






Photo: Navarr, Flickr Creative Commons



6 Responses to “Pennies in my handkerchief”

  1. I, too, carried pennies tied in the corner of a handerchief. I hadn’t thought of it in years….probably not since I did it. I’m sure mine was so I wouldn’t lose the coins before time to put in collection plate. That surely must of been a “sign” of the times. They wouldn’t tie into a tissue very good, would they?? 🙂

    • Doris – A sign of the times and a reflection of how hard-earned each of those pennies was in southern Iowa in the 1950s. But there were always some for Sunday School. 😉

  2. You know, I remember that now, too. Hadn’t thought about it, but we always had a penney tied in the handkerchief. I still have some of Mom’s fancy hankies. Thanks for brining back some good memories!

    • Dottie – I have some from aunts who have passed and–I think–a couple from when we were little. Kittens, I think. Did find a shop here that has new ones of the little-girl ones I remember. 😉 C.

  3. And I too remember the pennies in the handkerchief for Sunday school and vacation Bible school too! It was a challenge to get them untied, and unlike Carla, I had no older sister to untie mine! Brother Dick probably just dropped his pennies in his pocket and never understood my dillemma! I don’t think I even have a hankie in the house, except maybe a couple bandanas! I remember going to Halloween parties at the Promise City Methodist Church, and trick or treating for UNICEF! I loved trick or treating at your uncle Tommy’s house, Carla, where he would drag us into the dark house one at a time, and your aunt Lois tsking in the background! He was a hoot!

    • Marilyn – Made me giggle twice. First remembering the UNICEF parties for Halloween, and then the comment about Uncle Tom and Aunt Lois. He was such a character…and she was perfect as his counterpoint. What an amazing pair they made! 😉

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