Napoleon in California

I was digging around in the dirt near where the apricot tree grew out in the back yard when my shovel hit a small metal object . I was , maybe, fourteen years old at the time . It was a brass coin about the size of a quarter and it had Napoleon III ‘s image on one side . napoleon III

The words were French .  It was dated 1830 .

Well , maybe it was dated later . I just did a quick look and I  find on a Google search that he hadn’t declared himself Nappy the Third until much later than 1830 . Oh  , well ! I should look at the coin to check my facts . I have it somewhere ; but , along with several other prized items of mine , it has  been put away safely at some time in the distant  past deep into some forgotten hideaway . I suspect that my garage , if it could speak , if it would  tell tales , could shed light on many of these mysterious matters .

I first thought  that I’d found a gold coin and that I was suddenly rich . Maybe it was a long lost coin that collectors had been desperately searching for but hadn’t found because it had been a few inched under the ground in my back yard .

Well , I grew up in southern California . My neighborhood had been in the distant past , I’d heard , bean fields . This part of California had , of course ,  been part of Mexico . The French had run Mexico for awhile . I think it was Maximiliano , a buddy of Nap III  , who had tried his best to control the place , having been sent as the foreign occupier . The French  “mariage” music at their weddings in Mexico eventually became  ” mariachi ” music . Mexico got mariachi music .  I don’t know what France got out of the deal .

I took the coin to a collector . What I haven’t told you is that the coin had a hole drilled in it near the edge . Some woman probably wore it on a bracelet , I figured . That’s my guess.  Unfortunately , the hole  made the thing worthless , according to the collector . Otherwise it might have been worth a couple of dollars . My dreams of fortune slipped away , vanished .

I wondered who the woman who wore the bracelet might have been . I pictured a Mexican woman in a colorful embroidered skirt walking a field .

Probably the thing was dropped by the previous owner of the house , though , as she was planting the infant apricot tree . That mundane scenario is a lot less intriguing  than my other fantasies however ,  and I try to disregard  it  .

Someday I will find that coin and look it over again . I know for certain that it might  be hanging out in some dark recess of my garage with a painted but scratched boomerang and a so-called Model T wrench that turned out to be a Maytag washing machine repair wrench . Maybe I’ll sneak up on them , tag one of them , and say : ” You’re it ! ” . Then I’ll  run like hell away and hide . So far , though , they’re winning .


Filed under humor

6 responses to “Napoleon in California

  1. “The stories my garage could tell” – that’s a scary thought Dan.

  2. It’s fun to imagine who owned old things, isn’t it? I’ve purchased some neat old books at Half Price Books and invariably, there’s an inscription or dedication, so I imagine the scenario that went into the giving and receiving of the book from the 1920’s, etc. very cool!

    I was thinking about your coin and laughed,mas I am sure a poor Mexican woman in the field would not have used a coin on a bracelet, but rather to purchase food or clothing. Only affluent people would have used a coin in such a frivolous manner. Ah! Something else to think about? Have a good week Mr.Dan!

  3. Kathy B

    I came across your blog because I was looking up “limbo” and “pagan babies” for a series of humorous articles about the sacraments I’m writing for a class. I’ve been clicking on some of your stories and I am enjoying them greatly. Re the pagan babies: I really don’t recall naming any of them in our school (California-central valley), but we saved for them and stole from them as well. And the lovely Maryknoll sisters taught catechism in my mother’s basement!

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