This past Friday was a different sort of Friday for us. We had planned to go see Washington Old Hall, which is the home of some of George Washington’s ancestors, however they have already closed for the winter. I asked Mr. Ray if he would come over for a bit of lunch and tell us some stories. He was doubtful of his story telling skills but I knew better. This kids made a list of things they wanted to hear about and after lunch Mr. Ray answered all of them.
We were all most curious about the British monitory system pre decimal system. I am sure that many of our American friends are as “in the dark” about this as we were so have a look…. basically
The smallest coin in the last hundred years was the “farthing”. It was valued at one fourth of a penny. The last farthing was minted in 1956. It was understandably a very small coin.
The next coin up in size was the Half Penny or the Ha Penny. It was, as its name suggested worth a half of one penny.
Next in line was the Penny and then the Three Penny Bit.
The Six Penny Bit was also called a “Tanner”
The Shilling was worth 12 pence and was called the “Bob”.
Then there was the “Florin” worth 2 Shillings.
The next coin was the “Half Crown” worth 2 shillings and a “Ha Penny” (Are you confused yet)
Don’t give up yet………We are almost done………….
Next is the “Crown”
And last but not least…….. the gold Sovereign
Whew!!! That doesn’t even include the paper notes……the “Ten Bob Note”, the “1 Pound Note” the “Five Pound Note”
Mr. Ray shared with us that he never lay eyes on a real five-pound note until he was about Meg’s age. This coinage system was changed in 1971 to the current decimal system. The British pound is the basis for the current system. Mr. Ray admitted that the current system is much simpler. He recalled a time doing accounting in the pre decimal system doing the calculations in his head and placing totals on a board. I am still trying to wrap my head around it all.
We also heard stories of growing up in nearby Crook, England. He also told us wartime stories as well. He remembered being on fire watch and staying all night at work. He was armed with 2 buckets, a pump and a tin helmet many nights listening to the bombs going of near the coast. He recalled many close calls on this area. He told about his military days and being stationed in India. He said of his church there, “It was the only church I’ve ever been in that had rifle racks in the pews”.
It was so great to enjoy a leisurely visit with our good friend. We all learned so much from his wisdom and 88 years of living. I pray that we all can remember to glean this wonderful harvest of stories and wisdom from our elders. This Christmas I plan on listening to my own elders via Skype and phone as much as I can. I want to write down their tales and wisdom before they, like the grass and the flowers, fade away. Glean this bountiful harvest my friends. It is one of the richest harvests I know.