Quarters for Laundry at collegeDear Kid,

I love you dearly, and I love being able to help you. Since you have looked several places for the type of Clif Bars you want and haven’t been able to find them, I will see what I can do about getting them and mailing them off. And since you don’t have a Dick’s Sporting Goods handy and you need stuff for crew, I will do my best to act as your personal shopper and shipper. I might even be persuaded to send you a box of homemade baked goods sometime in the future.

But under no circumstances am I going to send you a roll of quarters.

I love that you’re doing laundry. As I have mentioned, cleanliness is next to not stinking-ness which is a good thing all around.

A roll of quarters weighs (approximately) half a pound. According to the post office, mailing you a package weighing half a pound costs (approximately) $3. Which, if I’ve done the math correctly (and I’m pretty sure I have) is (approximately) 30% of the cost of a roll of quarters. Since there is nothing interesting or different about quarters acquired on a college campus and quarters acquired at home, I’m pretty sure you can toddle off to a local bank and politely ask them to exchange $10 in bills for a roll of laundry tokens. I am quite certain you will not be the first person with such a request.

However, since you asked so nicely, I might be persuaded to move a few quarters into your bank account to make the quarter acquisition less painful. AND I shall supply you with interesting information about quarters. I’m just that kind of mom. How lucky can you get?

The first quarters were minted in 1796. If you find one from then, DO NOT use it for laundry (except under Dire Circumstances).

In other parts of the world, coins often represent 20% of the major denomination rather than 25%. The US decision to go with quarters dates back to colonial times when the most common currency used was the Spanish dollar. If you ask a pirate (or a pirate’s parrot), he’ll tell you that chopping a Spanish dollar into 8 wedges was the common way to make change and gave us the term “pieces of eight.” So two bits equals a quarter. Unless you’re referring to the song and cadence in which case “shave and a haircut…one quarter” is just plain silly. The point is that even though we don’t have a coin worth 12.5 cents (or even 7.5 cents – extra points if you get the reference) the term two-bits is still with us. And you need a bunch of them for laundry.

Because there was no one-bit coin, a dime (10¢) was sometimes called a short bit and 15¢ a long bit.

For coins, the front is called the “obverse” and the back is called the “reverse.” This is so coin collectors can immediately identify anyone who talks about the “front” and “back” as someone not In The Know.

Before 1965 quarters were made out of silver (making them worth more than 25¢ these days). Now quarters are minted from an alloy of copper (mostly) and nickel (less than 10%). Quarters have 119 ridges on the edge making them ideal for picking up all sorts of dirt and germs. No clue whose idea the 119 is.

It is 16 kinds of illegal to make tokens the same size as the official coin of the realm, so you can’t go to Chuck E Cheese and hope their tokens will be the solution.

Happy laundry,

Love, Mom

Shave and a Haircut Two Bits

Seven and a Half Cents (Pajama Game)….I figured it out!