Stephanie HIll/The Lawrence Herald There is some interesting folklore dating to ancient times regarding a found coin.

Find a penny, pick it up, All the day, You'll have good luck! Give it to a faithful friend, Then your luck will NEVER end!- Unknown

There it was, glinting in the bright morning sunlight, although not as lustrous as it once had been. The blacktop had recently been paved, and from the appearance of its copper face, some of that pavement covered, it too. I started to walk on past, but like the siren call, it seemed to implore me to move towards it. Must. Be. Picked. Up.

Hunched over, I could see the year. 1977, huh? I must have been in sixth or 7th grade when it was made. I had a total of two albums then: Queen's "Night at the Opera" and Kiss' "Rock and Roll Over." Additionally, I possessed one eight track tape, Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors," which played on a red portable 8-track player that I had somehow won for selling something, but I don't recall what the something was. I was saving my lunch money change and babysitting money to buy the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, from the soon-to-be released movie that I was absolutely not permitted to see. Bell-bottom jeans were on their way out, while straight-legged jeans and Annie Hall clothes would soon be all the rage in teen fashion.

Why all this should pass through my mind in an instant, I'll never know.

The words, "In God We Trust" were fairly crusted over with black; however, the word "Liberty" was recognizable. Abraham Lincoln's image was marred in spots by the blacktop as well, but he was still identifiable. I decided to give in to my instincts and pick it up.

I thought about giving it to one of my coworkers; and now, based upon my research, I wish I would have. Instead, I decided not to give it away because it seemed so tarnished. Still, I felt thankful and even a bit giddy after finding it. Perhaps it was the silly memories it triggered me to recall; maybe it was the bright sunshine that imbued my soul with joy; then again, maybe it was the feeling of luck - luck for me, and luck for the rescued to penny to continue on another day, rather than spend the rest of its life doomed as part of a parking lot.

Did good fortune follow after finding the penny? Well, not exactly, but, hey, I am healthy, alive, able to work, and can spend time with my family - I'd say that's fortunate enough.

Still, finding that penny inspired my curiosity. Why do people say, "Find a penny, pick it up, all the day, you'll have good luck?" Weeks later, relaxed and out of town for the weekend, I took the time to indulge my curiosity. What I learned was quite riveting and instructional (written with overtones of sarcasm); and therefore, I decided to disseminate this indispensable information - without requiring anyone to pay a penny for my thoughts.

First of all, there's more to the saying than I knew. I had never learned the rest of the saying, "Give it to a faithful friend, then your luck will NEVER end!" Who knew? I should have given it away as my gut told me to do! What's more, before giving it away, I should have paused and thanked God for my blessings. According to several sources, only a face-up penny possesses the words, "In God We Trust," which serves as a reminder to the finder that we must trust and rely upon God for everything in our life. Therefore, picking up the penny, pausing long enough to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving before giving the penny away, is key to increasing positive fortune in one's life.

It is possible that the whole, "Find a penny, pick it up," practice might stem from ancient times. Folklore has it that metals, such as copper, were considered gifts from gods. Therefore, when a metal object randomly appeared in one's life, such as a copper coin, it was believed that the gods placed the object there in order to protect the finder from evil.

However, picking up a penny found in one's path can also be traced to ancient Ireland and parts of Northern Europe. Long ago, in this area of the world, it was once believed that pennies belonged to fairies, leprechauns and pixies. When one found a penny during this time period, the person was instructed to spit upon the ground where the penny once lay. Then, the coin was to be tossed into nearby foliage or bushes, so the little creatures could have it. It was further believed that when the little creatures witnessed a human doing this, they would provide this person much luck and fortune.

There are other interesting, so-called rules regarding the finding of pennies. For example, a penny found tails up should be turned over and left for another person to find. This promotes good karma for both the person who turns the penny over and the person who finds the head-up penny. Along this same line of logic, supposedly, if you see a penny tails up, and do not flip it to the heads up side for someone else, bad luck will befall you.

Another nugget of oddity is the belief that if you see a person drop a penny, you must return it to them if it lands heads up; otherwise, you're attempting to steal their luck. If, however, the penny lands head-down, then it is your job to flip it over. Thus, changing your fate, the dropper's fate, and the ultimate fate of the finder!

A few writers went so far as to offer this sage wisdom: Do not flip a found tails up penny, wait 5 seconds, or longer, and then pick it up. Good fortune does not work that way! These were also the same writers who further believed that when you do find a heads up penny, it must go on, in, or to a place of significance, rather than your wallet or pocket, increasing the chances that this area of your life will flourish or increase.

Then, there are these bits of wisdom to grooms and brides, respectively, regarding the wearing of a penny on one's wedding day:

n "Put a penny wrapped in paper, keep it to avoid your debtors."

n "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue - and a lucky penny in the shoe!"

That's why my husband, John, and I had so much college debt to repay! If only we had known...

Finally, there is the belief that a penny represents oneness (Get it? One cent) with God - the unity of the spirit and the body - reminding the finder of their ultimate afterlife. A few sources went on to add that, if, however, one finds a dime, it is thought to be sent from a loved one who has passed away letting you know that you are loved and valued and will ultimately be rejoined with them.

Regardless of which belief(s) you wish to embrace on finding a penny, may your life, Dear Reader, be filled with good fortune and a random copper coin or two. Just remember, I shared this advice with you, so don't be a miser, pass on the good fortune to others!

Hmm...maybe I'll start leaving random, heads-up pennies on the ground for others.

After all, I can now fully say that the penny I found gave me the good fortune of added knowledge! Who knows what a penny could provide for someone else?

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.


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