Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31, 1945

While going through one of my mother's old jewelry pouches recently, I came across a folded up dollar bill that has been tucked in there since I collected her things after she died some years ago. For whatever reason, I had not looked at it closely until now. This time it caught my eye.

It is a series 1935 A, and clearly printed "IN SILVER PAYABLE TO THE BEARER ON DEMAND" under Mr. Washington's portrait. But more interesting is what was added by hand on the back in what I think was my grandmother's flowery handwriting. Underneath the large centered ONE in black ink, it says: 
 San Juan, Porto Rico
October 31, 1945
Perhaps because that writing is slightly obscured by the crease in the bill, on the right hand border she writes, in blue in, Oct 31, 1945.

Above the ONE, by someone else's hand and pen, is something illegible. On the front, to the left and parallel with Washington's oval portrait, is more unreadable scrawl, in very faded green ink. 
At the very bottom are two centered, tiny, perfectly round holes. 

My grandfather had been a banker in Puerto Rico since 1908, although by wartime he was working as a U.S. postal censor, so I would probably not connect this keepsake with anything having to do with the financial industry in Puerto Rico. I also have not been able to link this particular date with any larger history in Puerto Rico, the U.S., or the rest of the world, that might have affected my family. I imagine my mother knew what it commemorated, and whatever it was, it was important to her too, as she held on to the bill for the rest of her life. I think I'll keep it, too.

And here, for comparison, is a 2009 series (the most recent in my wallet) U.S. one dollar bill. You might also note, it doesn't appear to be backed by silver, gold, or any kind of metal (not sure if that's a good thing):


  1. These family mysteries always frustrate me no end. Usually because the people who know the answer are always long gone. Also I surely hope your vote ends up counting...;)

  2. Glad you're back in action, TB -I hope you're feeling much better!

    LOVE the family mysteries, some of which I've nearly miraculously solved (stay tuned for future blogs on the subject!) but October 31, 1945, is almost certainly lost to the Sands of Time.

    And yes, I voted yesterday. I went to the Board of Elections office in downtown Chicago and they also had a huge line but it moved right along and I was done in 20 minutes. Very satisfying!