“KEEP A $ IN YOUR POCKET”
…and you might find (in the end) that a dollar is your very best friend.”
That’s what the song by that title states. I heard it for the first time today being sung on the Garrison Keilor radio show, “News from Lake Woebegon”.
The slow beat and the gravelly voiced singer were reminiscent of the old R&B songs of the 1940’s and, sure enough, when I researched it I found that it was first performed by Roy Milton in 1946. But my interest in the song was mainly centered around the words.
A “dollar in your pocket” doesn’t buy much today; but, the whole idea of putting something aside for a rainy day is as strong now as it was back then. As I listened to the song I was reminded of my acquaintance with Ernest, a 74 year old black man who lived near me and who was being cared for by Hospice.
The year was 1980 and I was a volunteer care giver. Ernest and I became fast friends and one day we were alone, sitting on his front porch, and he told me that he wanted to share a secret. Of course I was intrigued and even more so when he pulled out his wallet.
I thought he was going to show me pictures, or maybe a newspaper clipping. But no … he brought out a crumpled $100 bill. “No one else knows this is here”, he said, “I’ve had it for 20 years and there have been many times when I almost used it … but I never did. Just knowing that it was there brought me lots of comfort.”
I was amazed that he would tell me this and I told him so. He just smiled and said that his family would find out as soon as he was gone but that he wanted to have the fun of sharing it with another person while he still could. He held my hand and after rocking and chuckling for a bit he fell asleep.
Within the month Ernest was gone. I wasn’t close enough to any of the family members to ask if they’d found the $100 dollars but it didn’t really matter. That crumpled bill had done the job for Ernest when he needed it most.