Silver Streak

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 10:30am

“The dollar of our daddies, of silver coinage free, will make us rich and happy, and bring prosperity.” — Williams Jennings Bryan

Williams Jennings Bryan ran for President three times – and lost. This is not a political column; however, I’ve carried the above quote in an active file in my head since I read it in a high school history class. I don’t intentionally delete files – aging does it for me. Recently, this quote revealed itself to me at the docks. It all started with a guy who was trying to get his car on the boat, and he had to go standby. He came roaring into the parking lot with squeaking breaks and muffler groans. He was a personable guy with a long coat and longer story about sleeping is his car the night before, and a cancelled morning reservation – other conflicts I couldn’t quite process. The wind, rain and snow mix upstaged this guy’s issues; I encouraged him to go sit in his car, and wait and see. I hunkered in the car shack.

The mate came over to scope out the load for the 4:45 trip, and told me he was taking the lone standby. I walked over to the guy’s car and sent him to get his ticket. He ran like a gazelle to the office – ecstatic. The mate called for the cars and we began to load the ferry. As I sent the cars to the mate, Lynn Kennedy called me on the radio and said, “Joe, that guy who was on standby won’t be going. I just wanted to give you a heads up.” I thanked Lynn. Then, the guy came out to his car and started to tell me how his credit card was glitched, and he was short on cash.

“Hey, do you want to buy some silver,” he asked. I was trying to just keep the cars heading to the stern of the ferry, and really didn’t want to get into a dialogue about buying silver; however, I was intrigued.

“How much money do you need,” I asked. “About 22 dollars,” he said.

I had to make short work of this, so I flipped the guy the cash, and told him to go get his ticket on the quick. “We’ll talk about the silver later,” I said.

This is not the first time I've been given silver. Last summer a guy rolled up to the ferry in a nice car with a pretty lady riding shotgun. I explained the drill to the guy about where to put his car and where to check in and get tickets. He looked befuddled. After his lady got out of the car, I took him aside, and told him precisely how to get the car on the boat, where to sit on board, and where to eat lunch on the island. I could tell that this guy wanted to man-up and look like he really had his act tight and was squared away. He’d score points with his lady by looking and acting like a "can do guy" — a dude. (All guys want to be that kind of guy, befuddled is not cool.) When I went to collect his tickets the guy flipped me a silver dollar. “Hey, thanks,” he said. He was smiling broadly as was his pretty lady. Win, win. I pocketed the swag and moved on to collect the car tickets.

Now, the silver dealer was running back to his car and had an excitable spring to his step. “Ahem, the silver,” I asked. “Oh yeah, I’ll get it now,” he said. “We need to hustle, mister, the mate wants your car, now,” I said. He pulled out a blue velvet purse and took out a coin. “Here you go, and thanks so much,” he said. As he backed on to the ferry I wondered if I’d just been snookered by this guy. Did he just flip me a piece of fugazi silver? Was I going to need to track this guy down and get my cash back? Is this guy hustling me? The boat left. I went to the ticket office and told Lynn that I gave the guy some cash to get on the boat.

“How much did you give him, Joe,” she asked.

“Twenty-two bucks,” I said.

Lynn rolled her eyes, and said, “Oh, Joe, you gave that guy 20 dollars!”

I pulled out the silver. “But Lynn, he gave me this. Check it out. Does it look real?” I asked. Lynn examined the coin (I couldn’t read the fine print).

“It says fine silver, .999, one ounce. Looks real. Do ya know what it’s worth?” she asked. “Don’t have a clue,” I said. “Let me know when you find out, I’m curious,” she said.

When I got home from the dock, I showed my wife the silver swag. She told me to Google what was written on the piece – my wife’s a hunter. I saw it was a legit piece but there was no value on the page. My wife was intrigued; I could tell the way she looked at the trinket – she likes trinkets, a lot. She punched up eBay – I know nothing about eBay – while I wrestled with the dogs. “Okay, this is a Hoffman and Hoffman Unicorn, .999, one ounce, 1981, and this was a limited release, it’s worth 34 dollars. You scored,” she said.

I grabbed my other piece of Silver swag from the summer, and she found out that this silver dollar was worth four scoots! Then, my wife grabbed a tin filled with some old coins she got from England, and it contained some other pieces of old silver. “Let’s keep this in your office so it won’t get lost, it might be worth more someday,” she said.  Finally, after a long soggy day at the docks, I was on a silver streak!