flips and gasmeters

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Thu Mar 8 22:02:02 UTC 2001

In a message dated 3/8/01 12:58:26 PM Eastern Standard Time,
JBaker at STRADLEY.COM writes:

<<         We have to be careful not to impose our own inflated ideas of money
 on Slim and Slam.  My parents, who were whites in rural Kentucky, have told
 me many times how in the 1930s a man would work 12 hours of hard labor for a
 dollar ("and be glad to get it, too," they would always add).  I doubt if
 Slim and Slam's target audience was any more affluent. >>

My grandfather was the shamos (sexton) of a synagogue in Louisville Kentucky
.  One of his duties was to find a Gentile ("shabbos goy") to turn off the
lights after the Friday evening service.  Apparently there was a poor
African-American neighborhood nearby, because there was never any trouble
finding a "Negro" who was happy to be paid for this chore.  The payment?  One

I cannot date this story other than between 1920 and 1940.  During this
period there were grown men willing to hire out for an errand for one cent.

Also, on the other end of the social scale from the song "Brother, Can You
Spare a Dime", John D. Rockefeller I got a good deal of positive publicity
out of his practice of publicly giving to charities in the sum of one dime.

A pop song of circa 1960, "King of the Road" by Roger Miller, had the lines
       Trailer for sale or rent
       Rooms to let, fifty cents
       Two hours of pushing broom
       Buys an 8 by 12 four-bit room

Question for numismatists:  I have been told that at some time during the
first half of the 20th Century there was one state (I think it was Oklahoma)
that issued "mills", that is some kind of coin or token worth 1/10 of a cent.
 As far as I know, this is the smallest denomination of currency ever used in
the US.  I doubt that Slim and Slam ever gambled with mills, but, at the risk
of sounding flip-pant, such a coin would be both small enough and evanescent
enough to be justified calling it a "flip".

              - Jim Landau

Another piece of monetary/linguistic trivia:
     The US penny reads "ONE CENT"
     The US nickel reads "FIVE CENTS"
     The US quarter reads "QUARTER DOLLAR"
What denomination is specified on the US dime?  "ONE DIME"

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