A Cupful of Love

After my grandfather passed away in 2007 family members gathered at his home to sort through memories and belongings and keepsakes. My grandmother had preceded her husband in death, 17 years before. As my mother and aunt set aside the items they wanted to keep, they allowed my sisters and me to claim some small mementos for ourselves.

I knew what I wanted, and rummaged through kitchen cupboards to find it. Lost among bowls and mismatched glasses and countless plastic containers, I found what I was searching for. The old aluminum measuring cup was a bit scratched and dented and had not been used in many years. That did not matter to me. No one else wanted it and my family allowed me to claim it. I was thrilled.

A Cupful of Love

My grandfather, Pop, taught me about gardening. My Grandma Mildred taught me two things…how to crochet and how to bake. I have such fond memories of standing on a chair in her homey kitchen, an apron wrapped around me, watching carefully as Grandma prepared a cake from scratch or whipped up a cream pie or stirred together a batch of gooey chocolate chip cookies.

When I was young, I was given the important job of measuring out ingredients such as sugar, flour and Crisco shortening. Grandma would plunk down that metal cup and her big old aluminum shifter and I would get to work. It was so satisfying to measure out the ingredients and magical to my young and curious self, to see flour and sugar and eggs and shortening combine and become something more, something beyond what they could be alone.

A Cupful of Love

Those times spent with my grandmother in her kitchen created a lifelong desire to cook and be creative with food. Grandma Mildred was patient with me, answering my questions and not minding if a bit of eggshell got mixed in with the cookie dough. She laughed often, told stories about being on the farm and taught me that a good cook cleans up her mess after the fun is done.

That measuring cup become more to me that a kitchen tool. I loved to drink out of it, although being aluminum, that probably wasn’t the best of ideas! I liked how cold the outside of the cup got when I filled it with chunks of ice. It made a great container to eat chocolate chips out of, mix flour and water in to make paste for craft projects, and to hold a stash of sharpened pencils ready for my young artist’s hands.

The cup came to represent my grandmother and my childhood. It represented love. I am grateful to have it.

A Cupful of Love

I’ve owned the measuring cup for 11 years now, and I have not really known what to do with it, beyond storing it in my own kitchen cupboard. Because it is made from aluminum, I do not use it to measure out ingredients. And at this stage in my journey, I no longer use refined sugar or white flour or shortening in my cooking.

However, this past week I discovered another use for the priceless cup. Earlier this year I located and purchased a children’s book, in two different versions, that was significant to me when I was a toddler. You can read about A Penny for Candy HERE. In honor of the book, I’ve been collecting pennies that I find on the ground. In the story, the children use their found pennies to buy candy. I figured when I had collected enough pennies I’d purchase a lottery ticket. I’m not actually very good at finding money on the ground, primarily because I rarely look down as I walk. So my stash is small, but growing.

I’ve wondered what to use to hold my penny collection. Now I know. The measuring cup is the perfect receptacle for the coins. I estimate it can easily hold 100 pennies, which would add up to a dollar. And there’s a triple connection to my grandmother. She owned the cup. I have wonderful loving memories of laughing and cooking in her kitchen when I look at the cup. And, the story goes, when you find a penny on the ground, it is a “penny from heaven” placed there by a loved one who has passed away.

I think about the cup as a pennies from heaven holder, and my perspective shifts. Beyond picking up coins to save for a lottery ticket, this has now become a new game to play, between my grandmother and me. I found a penny today and I loved the sound it made as I dropped it into the metal cup. I suspect I’ll find more pennies now and when the cup is full, I’ll ask my grandmother what she wants to do with them. I can hear her amused chuckle already.

A Cupful of Love

Finding a Puzzle Piece From My Past

This is a sweet, heart warming story. At least, it warms my heart. The events of the last few days have shed light on a long held memory of mine, and raised new questions. It’s like finding a missing puzzle piece, and being thrilled, yet still not knowing the significance of the completed picture.

A Penny For Candy

Working on an assignment in It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I answered a series of questions about myself, from ages 0 – 5 years old. This was my first Memoir Task in the book. One of the questions was: What was your favorite book?

A Penny for Candy Me at about age 3, with my best friend, Larry. What adventurers we were!

Oh! I vividly recall my favorite book as a young child. In fact, for some unknown reason, I still think often about the book. It pops into my mind, along with illustrations that I remember. The memory is always accompanied by feelings of happiness, security and love.

I knew the story was about children who find pennies on the ground and, delighted with their treasures, off they run, skip and jump to the candy store to make a purchase. I couldn’t remember the title of the book though. As I sat with the question, thinking about that book, it suddenly occurred to me to use Google and search for it.

I am so grateful for Google! I typed in “children’s book + finding a penny to buy candy + 1940 – 1960”. In a few moments I had located a Rand McNally children’s book, published in 1946, called A Penny for Candy. I found the book on several sites, such as Amazon, Etsy and Ebay, that allowed me to see some of the interior pages. My heart beat faster as I saw the familiar illustrations. Yes! Yes, this was the book. I had found it. The strong emotions that surfaced around my heart confirmed it.

A Penny for Candy

A Penny for Candy

I did more than just look up the book. I purchased it. I bought two copies, from two sources, with different covers. I paid a pretty penny indeed, as this children’s book is considered vintage now! But I was thrilled to know that I would own this book again. Copy one arrived Monday. And copy two arrived today. I am so glad I bought both, because the one that was delivered today is a longer version of the story, with more illustrations. And that’s the book I remember.

A Penny for Candy

It is a sweet story about a boy named Jonathan Percival Pinkerton Jr. who finds a penny. On his way to the candy store to spend it, he encounters four of his friends, who agree to go with him to the candy store. On the way, in their excitement, they jump and run and climb and turn somersaults. And amazingly, Jonathan’s friends also each find a penny on the ground. Oh, the candy they will buy.

But when they arrive at the shop and select their treats, the children discover their pennies are missing. They all cry with disappointment. Jonathan’s father enters the store. After hearing the story, he laughs and explains that the same penny was found, and then lost out of their pockets, over and over as the children jumped and tumbled. He gives each of the kids a penny to spend, creating a happy ending for all.

I’ve read through this charming tale several times since my book arrived, and always that sense of joy and wonder fills me. Why? I am trying to understand why I have such a strong connection to this book. I visited my mom this afternoon and showed her the book. She remembered reading it to me as a small child. And she was surprised I’ve remembered it my entire life.

A Penny for Candy

I’m surprised too. And curious. I’m open to receiving an answer. The illustrations of the penny in the grass and the children with their faces pressed to the glass in the candy store create the greatest surges of emotions…happy feelings. Was this my first experience with a clever story? For I adore cleverness. Or did I love that the dad was a hero? Because my fearfulness as a child drew me toward heroes. Was I delighted one could find money on the ground and be able to buy candy with it? Or was it simply that I felt safe in my mother’s warm embrace, listening to her read the story? She surely read many books to me. Why is this particular story so rooted in my memory and connected to such strong emotions?

I am puzzling it out. And one observation I have is this: I’ve never been good at finding money on the ground. So why haven’t I? With this story to inspire me, wouldn’t I have been more aware of the possibility that money might appear on the ground?

A Penny for Candy

I am sorting it all out. The simple question about a favorite book from my childhood has led me on a delightful new adventure. I’m writing about it, asking the Divine questions, staying open to answers, and following my curiosity. I am wondering too what became of my buddy Larry. As I carry the questions, I am keeping A Penny for Candy close at hand. The book’s new home is on my bedside table.

And yesterday, in between the arrival of the books, I found a shiny new penny, on the floor, in an unexpected place. Well look at that, I thought as I picked it up. Tears came to my eyes as I held that penny. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, with my inner child and this book, but I know this. It’s all good. This journey is trying to show me something important. I’ll see where it leads. I think I’ll save every penny I find from now on, and create a penny jar to place near my book. And then I will find a treat to buy with my treasure.

A Penny for Candy