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Three Pennies, Buttons and Lint 
by Ken Allan Dronsfield



While I was young, during the summers near my home, I worked at a small ice cream shoppe; a few dollars per hour, a small tip now and then.  It was a lovely place with pink and black stools, pictures of desserts on the walls, cones, scoops and a beautiful, colored menu. Every so often, a young boy of about 8 and his younger sister would come from their trailer in the woods and stop by for a small treat. Their clothes were worn, tattered and torn and shoes were beat. Obvious to me, they had no money for sweets. I'd seen the owner toss them out many times for lack of cash.

I was still helpful, smiled and asked, "what can I get for you and your lovely lass?" He beamed with pride and replied, "two small cones please"....I queried, “what flavors do you wish?" He smiled again, and said, "chocolate please sir". I asked, "do you want sprinkles on them?" The little girl squealed in excitement, "oh please, please", she replied. I scooped in the ice cream, put on some rainbow sprinkles. He reached in his pocket and pulled out, three pennies, some buttons and lint. He handed them to me, I handed him back the lint, keeping the coins and buttons, and said, this is just right. He smiled as I handed them their cones, and he looked up at me and with a small tear in his eye, "thank you sir, so much". And they left skipping towards the path through the woods. After they left, the Boss told me I would have to pay for those cones from my paycheck...I told him that's fine....

I saw those children several times that summer, then left for the military in the winter.


After serving twenty long years, I returned home to visit, it was July, so I thought an ice cream would be great. I went down to the shoppe and wondered, as I went through the door, whatever became of that little boy and his sister. I walked up to the counter and was greeted by a lovely girl who asked, "what can I get for you sir"? I replied, "one of your double scoop chocolate cones please”, a young man came from the back and asked, "rainbow sprinkles with that?” I said, "sure, why not?" without a second thought as I handed the girl some money, and after a moment, they  called me over to the counter and said, "here sir, here's your change". They were both smiling as they handed me, three pennies, some buttons, and lint. I looked at them as tears filled my eyes, and theirs as well.

They explained that they had been left an inheritance by their grandfather and bought the ice cream shoppe. We laughed, enjoyed our ice cream and as I went to leave the little shoppe, I called them over and handed back the lint and said, "now it’s just right.”




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