Dear Dollar: A letter of regret from Sweet Sixteen

After a 40-hour workweek at Grand Union in June 1955, a first ever for me, I received a paycheck in the amount of $40, more money than I had ever before earned at one time.

Babysitting gigs paid $.50 an hour and while playing with my little charges, I’d quickly tally up my days earnings in my head: two hours ($1), three hours ($1.50), or four hours ($2.00). Two dollars would be a typical total. But you, Dear Dollar, were not among these early dollars earned.

You, Dear Dollar, were one of $40 earned that first week during my summertime job on Summer Street. Excitedly, I tucked my paycheck into my deerskin wallet and hurried across Summer Street to the Connecticut Bank & Trust. There, I cashed my check and carefully arranged the bills in my deerskin wallet.

What happened next was most unfortunate for us both: Dear Dollar, I spent you. Along with one of your buck-mates, I spent you.

I’ve missed you ever since.

You see, you were one buck of a kind, Dear Dollar, and can never be replaced.

The two of you were used by me to pay for two, red, fingertip towels, with embroidered hearts on them. The little towels that are so small no one ever uses them.

I felt regret in having parted company with you so soon, Dear Dollar.

Back home, on Courtland Avenue, I hurried upstairs to my room clutching a small shopping bag with the two fingertip towels and my deerskin wallet, now missing you and your buck-mate.

On the way to my bedroom, I paused by the linen closet, opened the door, and noted dozens of towels, neatly folded and stacked on the shelves. Not red. Not pretty. Not embroidered. But towels nonetheless, bath towels, not fingertip towels. Towels, off-white, nearly ecru, after many trips to the Glenbrook Hamilton Avenue Laundry.

In your memory, or as a memorial to our short time together, I made a vow. This would never happen again. The pain of losing you was severe, and not to be repeated.

I knew exactly what to do the next day: I went back to the very bank that cashed my first ever paycheck, and opened a saving account. Thereafter, I deposited all of my summertime earnings directly into my new account. I walked away from the bank feeling somewhat comforted by my newly acquired passbook savings account book that showed a balance of $38, and it was carefully tucked into the soft crevices of my deerskin wallet.  But nothing would ever replace you, Dear Dollar.

All paychecks earned that summer, and the next several summers, along with Christmas money earned at Bloomingdale’s Stamford store, joined the first deposit of $38, until a few years later I had several thousands of dollars saved.

But, Dear Dollar, I will forever regret that you were not among them.


Sweet Sixteen

© Faith R. Connors 2022 All Rights Reserved

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