Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No. 358 – Parallels

Performer: Yes
Songwriter: Chris Squire
Original Release: Going for the One
Year: 1977
Definitive Version: Yesshows, 1980

Yesshows and Yessongs start the same way, of course—the theme of the Firebird Suite, which brings the band on stage before they launch into their opening song. In Yesshows, however, which I bought in 1996, the band joins in a bit with Stravinsky’s recording before going into this song.

When I saw Tributosaurus become Yes a decade later, I remarked to Laurie how the guest second guitar player was obviously a huge Yes fan, because he similarly joined in with the Firebird Suite on pedal steel guitar, just like on Yesshows. I mean that isn’t part of the studio verison of this song, which is what Tiributosaurus typically faithfully re-creates, so he had to know that on his own. Pretty cool.

Anyway, to shift gears entirely, the other day I was in a Walgreen’s parking lot, and I saw that someone had dropped a coin on the ground near to my car. It looked like a quarter, but when I bent over to retrieve it, I saw it was a 10-pence coin from the United Kingdom. Now there’s something you don’t see every day in Chicago.

I don’t know if I mentioned this already, but I was fascinated with money from other countries when I was a kid. I’m not a huge numismatist, but I like coins and paper money. Twice before my experience at the Walgreen’s I’ve found money that was something a little out of the ordinary. Coincidentally enough, both times happened as a result of producing change, and both happened in Boston.

The first time was when Debbie and I were in Boston as part of our New England vacation in 1996 (now we see how this ties together, albeit loosely). I planned to write more about that part of the trip in this entry, but I already covered everything there was to say about it, except for this final detail.

When we left to drive up I-95 to Maine, we stopped just north of the city for lunch at an Italian restaurant. It was fine. At the end, I paid in cash, and the waiter brought the change. One of the bills was a crisp dollar, except the words over George Washington’s portrait didn’t say Federal Reserve Note. They said Silver Certificate. I looked at the date of the bill—1957.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d never seen a silver certificate—redeemable for the precious metal, of course, but probably worth far more to a collector—and now I got one as change in a restaurant. I pocketed the bill and left a more current single as part of the tip instead.

Six years later, when I was in Boston for the annual Society for American Baseball Research convention (story to come later), I had an errand to run for a co-worker at The Dispatch. Erika collected pencils, and she asked me to get her a pencil that said Boston on it.

The last day I was there, before I headed to the airport, I went down to the little gift shop in the hotel where I stayed and grabbed a pencil and one other thing, I think, although I can’t remember what it was now. I paid my money, collected my change and walked out the door.

As is usually the case, I quickly sifted through to see what I got and I noticed something strange about one of the pennies. It didn’t have Lincoln’s profile on it. Instead it was the profile of a Native. Yes, I had gotten an indian-head penny as change. The date was 1908, and it was in perfect condition.

I stared. This had to be a mistake, but … the woman behind the register pulled it out of the penny drawer. I saw her do it, so it was there because someone else didn’t know what he or she had and spent it, and the workers in the store didn’t notice. I couldn’t believe it. Twice in Boston, a city to which I’d been only five times by that time, I got obsolete money back as change.

Apparently this phenomenon doesn’t happen just to me. About a week or two ago, Laurie got a buffalo nickel, date 1930, as change. (What’s next, a Mercury dime?)

Moral of the story: Check out your change. You never know what you might find.

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