Quarters and College

Ten years ago, Marcia bought Katelin a “United States of America Coin Collector’s Map” designed to provide a budding numismatist with a template for saving the 50 state quarters that the U.S. Mint had just begun issuing. Being a coin geek myself, I started eye-balling every quarter that passed across my hand at the time, and when Katelin or I found a new one, we would ceremonially slot it into the big map of the States. Katelin was eight years old at the time. It was a good father-daughter project.

My interest in the quarters map continued unabated over the years (I did mention that I was a coin geek, right?), even after Katelin got older and lost some of her interest in coins (to put it mildly), and then went to boarding school and started handling her own change without me, so I couldn’t even glean her laundry quarters for finds.

Still, by the end of 2008, I had completed the entire U.S. map of state quarters, with one exception: Arizona. Which was surprising, since it was the 48th state, not the 50th. Alaska and Hawaii came quickly and easily in the change I handled each day, getting my coffee or newspaper usually, but someone, somewhere seemed to be hoarding Arizona, as I never saw the Grand Canyon state in the quarters I scanned.

And for the record: I scan a lot of quarters, so it had struck me as really weird that I hadn’t seen a 2008 Arizona quarter this deep into 2009. Until today, that is, when Marcia and I were sitting in her car in Geneseo, New York, looking for a quarter to stuff into a parking meter. I pulled three out of her change holder, checked them (as I always do), and was suprised and pleased to realize that one of the three was, indeed, the 50th quarter I needed for the collection that Katelin and I had started so long ago.

There’s a poignant note to the timing of this find: we were in Geneseo for Katelin to participate in an accepted students’ program at the State University there. And less than an hour after I found Arizona, Katelin got in the car to announce that she was 100% convinced and confident that Geneseo, of the seven schools to which she had been accepted, was absolutely the college for her. It’s probably the biggest decision she’s yet confronted in her life, and we’re delighted at the choice she has made.

So . . . she and I found the Delaware quarter together ten years ago when she was in second grade at Latham Ridge Elementary School. And I found the Arizona quarter on the very day that she made her decision on where she’s going to spend the next phase of her life. There’s a delightful symmetry there, which appeals to my sense of order and rightness.

I think that Arizona quarter is going to be an extra special part of my coin collection accordingly.

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