One day, I was browsing through paper at an antique shop while visiting my mom and sister in San Diego.
Nothing caught my eye until I noticed an envelope hidden in a box full of 1960s mail. Loose, no plastic sleeve…
I came across a small, unassuming envelope…
I turned it over and saw writing on the front. What did it say?
Across the top of the envelope, someone had written:
This is the first cent Johnny every earned
It was addressed to John Rhoads 420 W. 16th St. National City, California.
Intrigued, I wondered if there was anything inside the envelope.
A small piece of paper was folded up inside.
What did it say? Would it provide any clues?
The note read:
This penny Johnny earned working for Mr. Cozine straightening fruits and vegetables on June 13th 1938, a Monday morning he earned this penny.
Under the handwritten note was a tracing of the exact penny Johnny earned in 1937.
Relating to Johnny and his mom’s note:
Back in high school, my very first paycheck came out to an endearingly low amount because it covered only 40 minutes of training. My dad handed me a twenty dollar bill and kept the check, saying we would look back at it one day and remember my first job. Like Johnny’s mom, my dad wanted to commemorate my first earned penny.
Although nearly 80 years had passed since the note was written, it was extremely relatable. Closing the gap between time and space.
Inspired by Johnny’s penny…
Johnny’s penny held ten pages of meaning for me. Memories, life lessons, history, etc. I wondered about Johnny and how his note ended up in a two-dollar bin at an antique store. I didn’t want his story to be forgotten.
Inspired by Johnny’s story, I decided to share my paper collection and put these memories back out into the world. Hoping to find others who would be just as interested as I was.
I continue to be thankful for Johnny’s note and the project it helped start.