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Jack Kerouac
A history lesson, courtesy of that penny in your pocket
A history lesson, courtesy of that penny in your pocket

I’m not certain which store it was, but a few days ago I received some change back after a purchase, slipped it into my pocket and, once I got home, sorted through the coins, as is my habit. Silver coins went into one jar to be deposited later at the credit union, and the copper pennies into a flamingo-shaped bank that my wife eventually donates (and yes, I know, neither are truly silver or copper). One of the pennies, though, was unusually worn, the obvious sign of age. The date: 1950, with the telltale “s” denoting it was minted in San Francisco. As someone who writes history books, that was enough of a prompt to set me wondering about the coin, which has been...

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