Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Wallet Over the Years

I don’t think I had a wallet until I got to Junior High. Before then my money was mostly change that lived in a piggy bank. And I really never spent money on anything in those days but rides at “Kiddieland.” The rides were $.10 so a mere ten dimes in my pocket would provide me with a full evening of entertainment. But in junior high my allowance actually was folding money and I could actually earn a few dollars babysitting. But the really important thing for any self-respecting teenagers to carry around was pictures of friends. The school photo company facilitated that by giving us a fresh supply to trade each year. Remember the plastic sleeves stuffed with photos? In those days all wallets were pretty much one design – folded over in the middle with pictures on the left, a change pocket on the right and a pouch along the back for bills. Grown-ups had wallets with secret hiding places. My dad always kept a $50 bill there – just in case. He also had a special card that he could use to buy gasoline at the Gulf station and his driver’s license. My mother had her charge-a-plate (addressograph plate) that had its own leatherette sleeve. That metal plate was the equivalent of having a charge card good at all the major department stores in town. By high school wallet designs had changed and included a snap-top change purse and a more compact design. I remember one wallet in particular. It was cream leather with little metallic decorative dots on it, accented with blue leather trim. But the best part was that I had a matching hard shell key case. At age 15, I had my learner’s permit, so I needed a place for car keys and a key to the house—where I was finally old enough to be left alone. Of course, the most prominent item in the wallet was my learner’s permit and a year later, my driver’s license. In those days the Alabama licenses were printed in a green official looking design on cardboard. The learner’s permit had a pink stripe and my driver’s license had a yellow stripe until I turned 21. In college, the photos of friends were still there, along with the driver’s license and the photo student ID. When I was in graduate school when I got my first credit card, a card branded by a local bank that has evolved into a major credit card company today. I think it had a $50 limit. My wallet kept getting thicker over the years with more credit cards, a military ID, cute plastic copies of my diplomas (you never know when you might need one of those), and, as the years went by, pictures of our son. The wallet style got progressively more roomy. At one point, I had a monstrosity that was about 10” tall, with many pockets and room for a passport. The goal was to have a plastic sleeve for each credit card and photo. The older I get, the less stuff I have to carry around with me, the happier I am. I actually have two wallets – a regular wallet and a travel wallet. Realistically, when I travel I don’t need a lot of the cards and such like I need at home. My travel wallet is very small black micro-fiber fold-over. The everyday wallet I use today is similar to the one I had in high school, but it is a tri-fold. It even has a snap-close change purse, just like the one from high school. But this one is black leather and is made by some big name designer whose work graced the Nordstrom rack. It has three pockets for cards. I have a few business and personal credit cards, a military ID, my driver’s license, a folded up spare check, an ATM card and the newest addition, the Medicare card. Yes, I have a place for cash, though I sure don’t carry as much as I used to. I prefer to just dump my loose change in the side pocket of my purse, but this wallet has a change purse. I keep a half-dozen Susan B. Anthony dollars stuffed in there. I am not sure where I got them, but will be nice to have some time I am sure. As for the secret department, I will never tell.

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