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When I opened my eyes, I was dizzy and confused; my familiar world was gone. My computer had disappeared, my bright desk lamp was now an oil lantern and the TV had vanished. As I tried to digest what I saw, it became clear.
While holding the penny tightly and closing my eyes, I had traveled back in time. I didn’t know if it was an overactive imagination or the traumatic experience of the ferris wheel, but somehow, I had journeyed to 1909 – and had brought my family with me. I tried to reason how we had ended up in this era, but quickly decided that wasn’t important. The important question was how we would return to the 21st century.
A little frightened, I begged my parents to take us back to real time. They informed me it was my responsibility. As I was racking my brain, Chloe jumped in.
“If a 1909 penny brought us to 1909, then it would only make sense that a current penny would get us back,” she said.
My sister, the logical one.
I searched through my piggy bank, but it was empty. I hadn’t been very good at saving and to be honest, I’d thought pennies were pretty worthless. Don’t get me wrong; President Lincoln had always been my favorite president. I loved him because, like me, he was a Kentucky boy. He freed slaves, enjoyed reading books and loved animals – especially his horse, Old Bob and his dog, Fido. But as much as I liked him, I would have rather seen his face on a $5 bill instead of something that was worth only one cent.
“I’ve got a jar full of pennies, Woody. Hundreds and hundreds of pennies with all sorts of different dates.” Chloe said. “Just take one of mine.”
Thanking Chloe, I began to put my paw in her penny jar when Dad stopped me in my tracks.
“Absolutely not.” he said. “Dogwood, we are always trying to teach you the importance of saving, yet you don’t listen. We are not going to let Chloe bail you out this time. You will have to work to earn your own money. Then, you can buy a penny from Chloe.”
Listening to Dad, certain words jumped out at me – “Dogwood, work, earn, save, buy.” One thing became crystal clear. I had to find a job.
Since there wasn’t an Internet, or even a phone in 1909, I would have to walk to town to find work. Though my parents gave Chloe strict instructions that this was my responsibility, they did allow her to accompany me to town.
“Where should I go?” I asked.
Dad informed us that the general store was a great place to start. With that settled, I handed Dad my 1909 penny for safekeeping, and Chloe and I left in search of the general store.
We wandered down the country road and found Mobley’s Mercantile without any problem. We almost made the mistake of thinking the tiny building with a crescent moon on it was the store, but knew it was too small for people to do business in. I made a note to self to ask about that building.
Entering the store, we saw shelves filled with everything from flour, sugar and candy to rakes, fabric and jewelry. The store’s owner, Mr. Mobley, introduced himself.
“I’m Woody this is my sister, Chloe,” I said, extending my paw for a firm shake.
Dad explained I should introduce myself, shake hands and always look the person in the eye.
“I’m looking for a job,” I said.
Mr. Mobley asked a few questions: “Well, son, do you have any skills?”
“Skills?” I repeated.
“Yes, skills,” Mr. Mobley explained. “Are you good with numbers? Can you shoe a horse? Can you chop wood?”
My heart sank. It was clear I was in trouble. I was clueless when it came to those things. I could bark loud, run fast and eat my dinner in record time, but those things suddenly didn’t seem so important. It was at that moment Chloe looked at me and said, “You can dig.”
“Yes.” I relayed to Mr. Mobley, “I can dig.”
Mr. Mobley’s eyes lit up.
“In addition to owning Mobley’s Mercantile, I own a small farm that provides fresh vegetables for the store,” he said. “The potatoes are ready to be harvested. Can you dig potatoes?”
“I will be the best potato digger ever.” I exclaimed.
Mr. Mobley firmly shook my paw and said, “You’ve got yourself a job, son.”
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