Today I found a dime from 1942 (pictured above). I was surprised at the way it looked – ever since I can remember, dimes have looked the same. I did a little research and found that dimes have actually been designed in 6 different styles dating back to 1796. It is unsurprising that my parents, who were born in the 1950’s, and my grandparents, who were born in the 1930’s, never told me about the way dimes used to look. Similarly, I’m sure I will not make a point to tell my children how the old 20 dollar bills used to look like. It’s inconsequential. Just a detail that gets lost between generations.
What other details have gotten lost between generations? What about details that are less quantifiable, less recordable? Things like the hardships of the great depression, the sacrifices of WWII, and the anxieties of the Cold War. For our parents and grandparents these things were part of their lives something they touched every day – these hardships, sacrifices, and anxieties were their currency.
We live in a different world today. Our currency is terrorism, global warming, and financial crisis. The general consensus seems to be that these problems developed organically in our ever evolving world. This may be true, but perhaps if we had paid a little closer attention to the currency of our parents and grandparents, we would have been able to avoid some of these issues we face today.