The Sampler – Pennies and Thoughts

sampler-main-180-pix.jpg5 Minutes for Mom brings you exclusive samplings from the best mom blogs in our weekly column, The Sampler, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom contributing editor Shera, from A Frog In My Soup.

I am truly honored and excited this week to share a post submitted to me by Robin, the lovely woman behind PENSIEVE.

Celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary last year, Robin is married to her college sweetheart. She’s mom to a tween and two teens…and an Australian Shepherd, calico cat, lionhead rabbit and FIVE BABY BUNNIES!

She chose her blog name, PENSIEVE, because a blog IS a type of pensieve–a stone basin used to hold and “re-live” memories when the brain is over-cluttered. Pensieve offers readers a slice of life, mingling humor with essays on family, friends, faith and more.

In addition to blogging, Robin enjoys photography, writing poetry, cooking and baking. She thought it important to note her favorite desserts are tiramisu and crème brûlée; she’s got a blow torch and she’s not afraid to use it ;).

Cents, Scents, Sense, Since ~ Pennies and Thoughts

One of the greatest portals to my youth is found in a single penny…


Bright and shiny or worn so weary neither head nor tail is detectable, pennies are the most contemptible and forgotten of loose change. Carelessly discarded and disdainfully reproached, their final resting place is among the disintegrated Cheerios in the bowels of a car or embedded in asphalt as the redheaded stepchildren in a tar-and-pebble street mosaic.

But their value is not in what they can buy, it’s in what they represent.


Pennies have a distinct odor. Close your eyes and imagine a fistful being thrust under your nose, and you’ll recall the tinny fragrance of copper and zinc.

The olfactory sense might just be the “penny” of the senses–I think if polled, most people would readily give up smell before sight, sound, touch or taste. Think about your favorite scents, though–bread baking in the oven, a cleansing rain on summer-scorched pavement, heavy, salted air before you even see the ocean–and you’re instantly transported to another place.

A handful of pennies smells to me like idyllic childhood days. When I happen onto that distinct fragrance, I’m transported to one of the happiest memories of youth, one my own children will never know.


Once upon a time, two rolls of pennies could get you 99 pieces of candy, with a token to spare for tax. Clutching the small brown paper bag brimming with Smarties, Tootsie Rolls, and two-piece boxes of Chicklets—careful not to crush the Pixy Stix!—we couldn’t wait to get out of the store, dump our bags and compare who got the “better” stash.

Sometimes it was quality over quantity; a pack of candy cigarettes, a roll of five-flavor Lifesavers and a Hershey Bar might not add up to 100 pieces, but with currency that valuable you could make some mean trades. It didn’t matter at that point how many pennies you handed the clerk inside the store—it was all about what that candy could get you outside.

A sense of freedom companioned candy store trips. Whether sharing the time with friends or siblings or cousins, it was never just about the destination; adventure marked the journey. Riding bikes or enjoying a Family Circus-paced walk, we found delight in the ordinary–a wayward box turtle, a thousand dandelion wishes, the promise of a butterfly hidden away in a cocoon. Always careful not “to break a mother’s back”, we never stepped on sidewalk cracks and sometimes we’d chalk a hopscotch court on the way and linger a while. “Hurry” was of no concern.


More than mere linear time defines the gap between then and now. The space between yesterday and today can only be measured in Ecclesiastical time—living and dying, building and destroying, laughing and mourning, embracing and rejecting, seeking and giving up as lost, keeping and throwing away, binding and tearing, speaking and silence, loving and hating, war and peace.

One Ecclesiastical thread at a time, our lives are being woven—mine, yours—and in each tapestry there are dozens of stories to tell, stories our children want to hear…need to hear…stories untarnished by inflation. And since memories live in their re-telling, I’d love to share one of mine…

One of the greatest portals to my youth is found in a single penny….

~ Written by Robin of PENSIEVE.

If you would like to be considered for The Sampler please review The Sampler Guidelines.

This column is Hosted by Shera. She can be found at A Frog In My Soup


  1. says

    I have a friend who does not have her sense of smell. Her husband has started a smell dictionary, it has done wonders for my own sense of smell–to try to be aware of how to describe things someone else can never experience.

    I know that’s not the point of the post, or maybe it is…

  2. says

    Beautiful, and so true. Odd how something so small and not considered valuable can really hold so much meaning.

    My fave was the description of the candy store trip. My sisters and I always pooled our money and bought those bags of candy like fruit slices and cherry sours. Then we would go home and get plastic baggies and divide it all up.

    Love the post.

  3. says

    Robin, you continually amaze and astound me with your insight. I think this is one of the reasons you are one of my favorite bloggers EVER. :)

  4. says


    Thank you Robin for such a brilliant post. You took me back to my own childhood candy store trips. Janice and I would also treasure what a handful of small coins could bring us at our neighborhood candy store, Mary’s.

    It was a sad day when Mary’s closed down and in her place some forgettable store then stood.

  5. says

    Michelle, well, that’s a BIG part of the point :) (I mean, “Scents” is part of the title 😉 ). What a wonderful husband your friend has! A smell dictionary? An unusual but beautiful expression of LOVE!

    WGM, OOooo, I’m so glad it stirred your own remembrances! Can’t you remember dumping everything out on the floor to re-examine your stash? Good times :).

    Karen, awwwww…sweetest comment EVAH! This is a post I’ve wanted to write FOREVER, but never got around to…so glad Janice & Susan gave me “reason” :).

    Susan, I bet most of us had our “Mary’s”; our “Five and Dime” (and I think that’s what it was called) was taken over by the grocery store next door. At least I was in college (married?) when that happened, but it makes me sad when I go back home and see it.

    Thanks for your kind words here, but also for hosting this fun column! I’ve enjoyed reading new bloggers through The Sampler…and other 5minutes columns. You and Janice ROCK!


  6. says

    What a lot of memories you conjured up Robin! Although things are a little different here in Australia, our old one and two cent coins had a distinctive smell. The govt. phased these coins out a few years ago and when my children find one (there are still a few lying around in old jars etc. in the house) they are fascinated to find out they are MONEY!

  7. says

    Robin I loved this post! I have often noticed the smell of pennies – but I never followed their trail. Thanks for showing me what I missed.


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