Friday, December 29, 2017

Clayton Folkerts


Clayton Folkerts was born in Iowa in 1897, the same years as my great grandmother Grace. He was a self-taught extremely gifted mechanic and was building airplanes by the time he was 19 years old. Although my grandfather claimed he "invented" the timing mechanism for firing a machine gun through the front prop, I'm pretty sure that part is pure fiction. Clayton did work with an Iowa based aerospace company after World War I ended and maybe had a hand in perfecting the mechanism. He was famous for his radical designs and is credited with building the first monocoupe. By 1928, 90% of all light airplanes sold were monocoupes. Also known is that Charles Lindbergh was one of Clayton's most famous customers.

In the 1930's through the 1950's, Clayton's airplanes dominated the world of speed flying and won/set numerous records. It is documented that when World War II began, Clayton was a project manager in the development of trainers and gliders used during the war. After the war, Clayton returned to Iowa, retired and lived a quiet life until his death in 1964.

He didn't get married until later in life and married someone named Florence Fontaine whom both my grandparents claimed to be a cousin to my great grandmother Grace. I can find very little on the internet about Florence but was able to find a number of records on her using my genealogy resources. It appears from the age of 11 when I picked up her trail until she met and married Clayton, she was an orphan and moved around a lot. My grandparents gave me what they thought was her surname and although there is a Florence in that line, my ancestor Florence was 19 years younger and didn't live in any of the places Florence Fontaine or Clayton Folkerts did. I was pretty convinced that if Florence Fontaine is related, it is more distant than a first cousin.

The next time I saw my grandparents, I questioned them about how Florence Fontaine was related to my great grandmother Grace and told them that she apparently was orphaned at an early age. That seemed to spark their memories that she may have just grown up with my great grandmother Grace. Although they may have, it would be between the census records taken every ten years because according to them, Florence Fontaine was never in Iowa until after the war when Clayton Folkerts retired and moved back there. Then she lived a handful of miles away from my great grandparents and this is the time my grandparents can remember visiting them.

Whatever the truth is, the Folkerts and my great grandparents became good friends and when Florence died in 1982 without any heirs, she left a sum of $30,000 to my great grandmother who used those funds to buy a condo in a retirement community that gave her great joy until she passed away. As I suspected, there was some truth in what my grandparents told me and it definitely is an interesting story but I may never know it all. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Close Calls

My grandfather posing with his airplane
Another interesting story that came from my grandfather was about his airplane, actually his half of the airplane. After he learned to fly, he and another person each bought half of an airplane which they shared. Eventually family life and the high cost of fuel made my grandfather decide to give up his share of the airplane and the other owner, Hadley Caster bought my grandfather out.

Less than two years later, Hadley Caster who was using the plane to spray crops crashed and killed himself in the plane. My grandfather only learned of it by seeing a funeral notice in the paper and going to the funeral. My grandfather said Hadley's widow mentioned that Hadley had been complaining about a sticking aileron the day before and suspected that is what caused the crash. Being a single person accident, I'm guessing there was no formal investigation back in those days.

Years later soon after my grandfather retired, a friend of his who had a license offered to take him up in his plane. It was at a small rural airport with no formal control tower. Instead pilots just used a common channel to warn others there of their intentions. The airport had two runways that made a giant X and there were two or three planes lined up at the end of the one heading into the wind waiting their turn to take off. My grandfather's friend didn't want to wait and so announced over the radio that he would be taking off on the intersecting runway. The problem was that later, they discovered his radio wasn't working and so nobody heard them.

My grandfather's friend took off at the same time another pilot on the intersecting runway was taking off. Fortunately the other pilot saw the problem in the nick of time and had enough horsepower to jerk the plane to the side barely missing the plane my grandfather was riding shotgun in. My grandfather said they were close enough to hitting he could see the face of every single passenger in the other plane looking at him while my grandfather's friend continued on unknowing at how close he had just come to death.

My grandfather said he never flew in an airplane again until this spring when we flew him back to Iowa to where he and my grandmother now live.

Using google-foo and my subscription to some newspaper archives, I've tried teasing out the article on Hadley Caster's death but have been unsuccessful thus far. There are lots of articles listing spray planes that crashed and killed the pilot but rarely do they name the pilots.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Our red cedar Christmas tree in 1981

Looking back through all the old pictures, I found this picture of our decorated red cedar Christmas tree from 1981 in our old farmhouse where we used to live. It was in pretty rough shape and all my doctoring of the photo using photo editing software could only produce this image which is quite dark. Still it shows the wood paneling that was through the old farmhouse and the picture of the two cartoonish lions up on the wall that I had forgotten about. It brings back lots of memories.

Merry Christmas to all my friends in blog land!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Seeking the Truth

Recently I decided to try my tape recording technique that I have been using on my grandma with my grandpa. My grandfather used to fly airplanes and his father used to be an airplane mechanic in World War I so I brought up the subject. We started with my great grandfather's experience with planes which was pretty limited. When he got to France, he was picked to take a plane up with problems to diagnose them but my great grandfather's best friend ended up in it for reasons lost to time. Long story short, the best friend crashed and was killed and my great grandfather decided to never fly. Instead he focused on being an airplane mechanic during the war.

According to my grandfather, my great grandfather was friends with someone by the name of Clayton Falkirk who invented the timing mechanism that allowed machine guns to be fired between the blades of the airplanes during World War I. Clayton was a aerospace engineer for an airplane company that came up with this idea. Much later when Clayton died, he left my great grandmother (my great grandfather had died a few years earlier) a sum of money to the tune of $30,000, a substantial amount of money back then. That money allowed my great grandmother to buy a condo near my grandparents where she lived out most of her remaining years in comfort. According to my grandparents, Clayton was the spouse of a cousin to my great grandmother.

I had heard the story of a "cousin" giving my great grandmother a large sum of money which she used for buying the condo but never heard who this person was or the story of the timing mechanism for airplane machine guns. I thought this would make a great story to investigate and flesh out but alas, I have been able to confirm not a single thing about it.

A quick search shows that he was not the inventor of the timing mechanism though oddly enough their is a Anthony Falkirk involved on the side of Germany. However, from experience, their is usually truth buried in what my grandparents tell me and I'm guessing that Clayton was indeed probably an engineer for an aerospace company here in the U.S. during World War I and probably indeed had a hand in the development of the U.S. version of the timing gear. I'm sure he is probably the spouse of a cousin as my grandfather said but whether it be a close or distant cousin is up in the air.

I'm not sure how I will proceed from here. I might poke around the first cousins to my great grandmother looking for someone named Clayton Falkirk or similar and go from there.

*************************************************************************

What a difference typing in the correct name makes. I should have been typing in Clayton Folkerts. He is quite well known for building racing airplanes after he returned from the war but I still have yet to find anything that ties him in with the timing mechanism for the machine gun. Also, little is known about his wife Florence Fontaine (supposedly a cousin to my great grandmother). I can find records of her living with others from ages 11 on up but no record of her parents. What I can find is that they lived in the town my grandfather said they were from and where he visited them as a young man. Their death dates also match the timeline. Now if I can just find out the relationship.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cocky


Sorry for the poor quality of picture but I took it with my phone through a window. If you look close, there is probably a dozen of around twenty turkeys that I recently saw walking across our lawn in the closing weeks before Christmas. As I watched them do their thing, I couldn't help but remember them doing the same thing last year or the year before. By same thing, I mean brazenly coming out after Thanksgiving. It is like they know the danger of disappearing to someone's table is over for the time being so they can come out in the open. The way the strut, they always appear to be pretty cocky about the situation.

For some reason, probably due to some sort of update, my phone has taken to trying to correct photos based off what is in them. It automatically tilts my photo to make my lawn look level (which it is far from) and makes the house across the holler look like it slopes downhill. I find myself having to go in and manually retilt them to make everything look okay. Since this picture was destined for blogger, I didn't bother.

Another thing you won't notice is that I'm missing a tree in the background. The missing tree stood directly behind the caged tree sprout in the center of the photo. It was actually about five feet back into the brush line so you can't see the stump. That was the dead black cherry tree that I cut down for the burl. We've had a disease going around here for about five years now that is decimating any red oak or black cherry tree in a stressed condition. Since both those trees are among my favorites for their longevity, hardiness and ease of caring for in your lawn (i.e. don't shed a lot of branches), I'm sad to see them go. It's allowing the maples to thrive, among them the silver maples which I hate because they are kind of a junky tree to keep in a yard that you mow.

One non-photo related subject is just an update on my grandmother who fell on Thanksgiving day and broke her hip. I took her to see the Orthopedic doctor and he said she can walk on it now as tolerated as long as she uses a walker. My grandmother practically jumped out of the wheelchair and it has been gathering dust since. Another two or three weeks and the walker can gather dust as well. I'm pretty happy about getting some of my "free" time back again.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Burl Dreams


Soon after we moved into our current house, I noticed a black cherry tree down in our ditch that had a large burl growing on it about twenty feet in the air. Though the base of the tree was only a little over a foot in diameter, the burl was almost twice that at the thickest point. But it was a young tree so I never thought I would get to see what the wood inside the burl looked like.

Three years ago, the tree started dying and two years ago it did die. However, it was leaning in the wrong direction for me to easily cut it down with a chainsaw and so I opted to wait until my brother was around before cutting it down. My brother works for the Forestry Department and is well certified to run a chainsaw. Last year, my brother spent all his time with me helping my father bring in the crops while my mom was undergoing radiation treatments so neither of us had time for trees. Finally, this year the stars aligned and we cut down the tree last week.

I'm glad I had my brother because it took some specialized cuts and use of many wedges to get the tree to fall in a safe direction and even then we still had to fight the thick undergrowth to get at the wood. The top part of the tree too far dead to be of much value and it was only half way down that we started getting into solid wood. The burl itself was a little farther gone than I had hoped it would be but I think still salvageable. So we cut it off and loaded the rest of the wood into my father's pickup for my brother to take back to the farm for the wood stove.

As you can see, the burl is sitting in my garage for the moment and I have an appointment on Friday with someone who is willing to cut it up.  It's like staring at a Christmas present and not knowing what is inside. I'm hoping to find highly figured cherry wood that would be beautiful in all kinds of projects but you just never know until it is cut open. Stay tuned and I will let you know what I find out.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Updates

Since I tend to blog unfiltered with the exception that I change some names or places just to remain somewhat anonymous, I end up with a lot of things hanging in the air so I thought I would just create an update post.

My mom is still cancer "free" as of this post. Everything says that little bits and pieces probably remain but they just don't show up on imaging and aren't growing. Her strength has for the most part come back now that her chemo is over with and so has her mental faculties. I read about how much that poison she took to kill the cancer could effect other processes but until you see it in person, I don't think one can fully understand.

My grandmother is healing up fast and will probably be released from the acute rehab wing of the nursing home sometime next week. She will still have to use a wheel chair for another few weeks until the hip bone is allowed to fully heal but she can get up and out of it at will and just hop around using one foot to get to where she needs to be. Although I will still probably make daily trips for the time being to check on both her and my grandpa, they won't be as long as they are now. I spend about three hours a day attending to them which for the most part just involved listening to them talk since being in their own separate cocoon worlds has probably been the most difficult part of this process after nearly 70 years of marriage. Getting a couple hours back in an already very busy life is huge.

The bookcase project got put on hold and I fear it may remain that way until spring. Ever the optimist, I did take an hour to go pick up a few more boards at the local Amish sawmill to finish the project if time and weather (of the warmish kind) permit. With only a week and some change left to go until Christmas, I will probably put all projects aside and focus on family things. If I can't work on the bookcase, I have one more bathroom I wish to gut and redo in this house so I may do that over the winter months.

As soon as Thanksgiving was over, my grandparents both got struck with a cold and my kids came down with a stomach virus in the days afterwards. It wasn't only them but the entire state was having issues. As I nursed all of them back to health, I felt like a doomed man awaiting my execution. Yet days came and went and I avoided it. Now everyone has been healthy for a week and until yesterday, I thought I had won the lottery of health. But yesterday the sneezes and runny nose came on with a vengeance and today my sinus cavities are plugged and my throat sore. I take comfort only that I don't have the stomach virus too. Knock on wood.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It Smells Like Christmas

[I wrote this a couple weeks ago with intentions of sending it to the local newspaper and never followed up so I'm posting it here.]

It may have been because we were living through the farm crisis of the 80’s. It may have been because my parents have always been frugal. It may have been because they grow plentifully around the family farm. It may be because of all three that we have always liberated a red cedar tree from its earthy toil to become our family Christmas tree. This year was no different.

We drove down to my parent’s farm on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon and spent a few moments discussing various potential red cedar trees that had been spotted from the combine during fall harvest or while driving along the miles of back country gravel roads between our farms. Most were too big, some grown into a fence or lopsided and were ruled out. Eventually we decide on some potential trees that might suit our Christmas tradition needs and headed out.

Growing up with a little brother and two parents with differing opinions, we seldom unanimously decided on the perfect red cedar Christmas tree. As expected with a group of four, we often ended up in a two-two tie of which tree to cut down. Because we never had a coin between us to flip, this always led to the glove flip to break the tie. Thumb up or thumb down, I’m sure there is a statistical advantage to one of those sides.

We arrived at the previously discussed trees and this year, unlike most, we decide fairly quickly which tree is the perfect tree to take home. With five passengers in our minivan, adding a red cedar tree makes for a tight fit so I tie a rope to the tree and truss it up, pulling it into a more compact bundle. As we stood there investigating the growth rings to figure out the tree was probably nine or ten years old, my oldest caught a whiff of that cedar smell and commented, “It smells like Christmas.” My daughter had just summed up our family tradition in one sentence. 

With the tree home, we get it put into the tree stand and watered, adding a generous amount of food coloring to take out any reddish hues that are there and turning it into a beautiful green Christmas tree. Tomorrow the needles besides being green, will be soft and supple again and we will begin the decorating. For the next few weeks, that glorious red cedar smell will be every present in our house. It will truly smell like Christmas.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Lifting the Fog

Although my grandma is getting better everyday, but I can see the toll being put on her by living in an acute rehab wing of a nursing home. She is surrounded by elderly people, mostly ladies, in various states of dementia. I think just being alone for much of the day when I or my mom aren't visiting her is causing her to fog up a bit. She has kept telling me a handful of stories pertinent to her immediate daily life over and over and over for the last two weeks.

Today however, I stumbled across perhaps a solution. Somehow we got to talking about her mom who had also been in a nursing home for many years of her life. At first she was with my great grandfather in a nursing home as he succumbed to cancer of the remaining lobe of his lung. The other half had been removed years earlier due to the same cancer. Then my great grandmother got hit by a train and ended back into a nursing home.  She eventually got her strength back and left the nursing home to rotate among the four siblings of my grandma for a month at a time. But eventually Parkinson's took over to the point where she couldn't get around easy enough and had to return to a nursing home for the remaining years of her life.

But as we talked about my great grandmother, the fog lifted from my grandmother and she was back to normal again. We had so much fun talking about it that she mentioned at the end of the conversation that we should talk about such things again the next time. So I think from now on I'm going to record our conversations and probe family history matters for the next week or two until my grandmother can be released to go back to her own apartment. It will be a win win situation for both of us.

05 Sep 1954 Waterloo Daily Courier

Friday, December 8, 2017

Call Me Mr. Unicorn No More

My transformation into a unicorn began probably two or three years ago, probably while rubbing sunscreen onto my forehead. Right in the center of my ever increasing forehead, I felt a small hard bump. Being married to a doctor, I asked her right away if it is something I need to get checked out but she said she wasn't worried. Periodically over the next three years as the bump began to get bigger I would repeat my question only to get the same answer.

Sometime earlier this year, it had grown enough that it was noticeable to other people such as my mom who notice such things. I even started getting an irritated red hue on the skin above the horn (my term for it). I asked my wife one last time if she was concerned fully prepared to fire her and go get a second opinion but this time she said I should get it checked out and even made an appointment for me to see a plastic surgeon!

"But it is just a horn."

"Yes but I don't want your face to be horribly disfigured."

"I can't help it that I was born that way."

"Correction, I don't want it any worse."

So I went to see the plastic surgeon and as surgeons tend to do he shouted, "Off with the unicorn horn!" He really didn't shout but like I expected, he was all for removing it and seeing just what he was working with. He did promise me a whiskey IV if I behaved. I signed on the dotted line.

The day of the surgery, my first in over 25 years, I showed up and was amazed at how much things had changed. Gone were the gowns showing butt cracks and long waits in said gowns among the general population. Instead I was ushered into a private room where I could put on the gown that showed the sides of my thighs instead of my butt crack. From there however, I was plumbed up to IV's, (he lied, there was no whiskey) and whisked into the operating theater and transferred to the slab which seemed more comfortable than I remembered.

Within seconds the lights started swirling about and going dim. The theater show was about to start!

I was only sedated and not under general anesthesia but I'm sensitive to it anyway and slept through the entire procedure except for one part, the actual removal of the unicorn horn! The actually took a hammer and chisel and although I couldn't feel anything, I could sense the impacts forcing my head to the right with every hit. Fortunately for the power of sedation, I didn't care one bit and fell back asleep before they started to drill to remove any subsurface cells that were causing this bone to grow.

Sometime between the operating theater and the recovery room, I popped wide awake and fully aware. Seconds later my wife was being ushered in and maybe less than an hour later I was walking out the doors with a ugly looking "gunshot" wound to my forehead. I was no longer a unicorn.

As I right this a week later, the wound while still visible is showing signs of healing and scabbing over. According to the doctor I have a few more days and then the sutures will fall off on their own and once the scab falls off, I will have a red scar, that will fade to white and after a year fade away into the wrinkles of my forehead.

Being a good surgeon, they tested my horn and found that it was truly just a bone and nothing to worry about. I'm sure my wife wanted to tell me that she had been right all along but she graciously refrained. Good beside manners and all. I guess I could have let it continue to grow and joined the circus sideshow as Mr. Unicorn but those dreams have been dashed. Still, I have gotten great joy telling all those who have inquired about what caused my wound that I woke up with a third eye, decided that just wouldn't do and poked it out with a chopstick.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Feeling Old

This past weekend, a colleague of my wife invited us to his house for an after office party party. We attended the official office party first and then slipped out and went to his house on the sly since only the "cool" office workers and their spouses were invited to the after party. It felt great to be cool again.

My wife's colleague is about ten years my junior but when you get above the halfway point of life expectancy, ten years doesn't seem like that much. But when we entered the house, I immediately felt the difference. There were a bunch of young-uns probably twenty years my junior playing beer pong and flippy-cup when we entered the door. My wife and I were by far the oldest people at that point.

We stood around watching the young kids having fun until eventually some others our age and even a number of people much older showed up and we all retired to a side room to sit and enjoy our beverages over conversation while listening to the young people play their games to guzzle their drinks.

Occasionally they would come to our room asking for volunteers for their beer games but none of us budged. We were enjoying our conversation and nursing our drinks along at a social rate. Eventually we started making excuses to leave, most involving getting up early or checking in on the kids. As we drove home, I couldn't help but remember those days when I was one of the young-uns in the other room. Though they made me feel old, I still don't think I would trade a single day next week for a week of being that young again and playing beer games.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Broken

Thank goodness Blogger allows me to write stuff and set it up to be posted at a future time or my blog would have been awfully silent in the week after Thanksgiving. Here's the story why.

Thanksgiving this year was down on the family farm with my family, my parents and my grandparents in attendance. I smoked a turkey as tradition dictates a couple days ahead of time this year due to my weather concerns on my normal day before routine. We baked rolls and pies, our other obligations, loaded up the car and drove down on the morning of the feast.

All was well and we ate our share and then our share for later that evening and boxed up leftovers so we would get our share well into the next week. We visited with one another until my grandparents decided it was time to get going so that they could be home well before dark and we could get on with the second part of our Thanksgiving tradition, the harvest of a red cedar from its earthly toil to become our Christmas tree.

My 88 year old grandfather can shuffle with the aid of a cane but it stooped over and has very bad depth perception due to ongoing macular degneration in his eyes. To get in or out of my parents house, there are three steps to negotiate and so we all took up our posts, some below, some above to help guide my grandfather safely down the steps. Nobody wants him to fall because it would be broken bones or instant death and neither would be good on Thanksgiving day. My grandfather safely made it down and my dad was guiding him towards the car.

I headed back inside to gather up some things for my grandmother who was coming along behind. Although my grandmother is 84, she gets around like someone much much younger so none of us were worried as she negotiated the steps. However she turned at the last second to say something to me, forgot about the steps and ended up going head first down them and landing on her side on the concrete landing below. Fortunately with plenty of family and a doctor in the house, she was in good hands and after getting her senses, we gently stood her up. She couldn't put any weight on one of her legs and we all suspected a broken hip.

Long story made a bit shorter, she got a ride to the ER on Thanksgiving day when most are comatose from tryptophan laced turkey in our car where she was found to have a non-displaced fracture of the hip. Being the caregiver to my grandfather, we now had to grandparents in need of taking care. My grandmother spent three days in the hospital and was transferred to an acute rehab nursing home across the parking lot from their apartment in the independent living section. I've been making daily trips to take care of my grandfather in his apartment and taking him for visits to my grandmother while my mom has been taking care of my grandmother. Once we got them all in one facility separated by some long hallways and a parking lot, we are starting to alternate days.

Right now it is looking like another couple weeks for my grandmother to get kicked out of the nursing home back into her apartment and then another four weeks or so before she is allowed to put any weight on her hip and leg lest her fracture turn into a displaced fracture which would require surgery and months upon months of healing. Sprinkle that with two kids who came down with the stomach bug one after another followed by a bad cold that has been traveling around and I've been pretty busy to say the least.

We did sneak down to the farm a few days later and liberated a small red cedar tree from its earthly toil and it now sits in our house awaiting for decoration when the kids (and we parents) are healthy enough to do it together. My grandmother, a self-described tough old bird, is healing now and the prognosis of many years of quality life still in her future. However, she will now have an escort when she navigates stairs from now on whether she likes it or not.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Little of This, A Little of That

A few weeks back, my father called me to say someone at his church had asked him to join a 7-mile run up in the Urban Jungle and now he wanted to know if my wife or I were interested. Although it was only a week away, we didn't have any particular plans for that weekend so my wife was immediately game. I was up on the fence until I did some research. I've had two knee surgeries removing cartilage from one knee so I try to avoid impact sports that can cause me pain and swelling discomfort, running being one of them. However my research showed that this was an off-road fun run through fields, streams and muddy ditches and it looked like lots of people walked the entire course. I decided to join in the fun.

It rained the night before and the morning of the race was very cold "limiting" the participants to only a couple thousand! The first four miles went by pretty fast and was mostly spent walking through fields, gravel roads and a few paths through wooded areas. Everyone, including me, were starting to find their pace and we were spread out nicely. Then the stream crossings began.

These were small streams only a few yards wide but over the thirty plus years of holding this event, the crossing were pretty horrible. They were pretty much drop-offs of several feet to get into the stream and the same on the other side. Fortunately there were usually some handy ropes or trees to allow you to pull yourself out the other side. That was the easy part. The hard part was that the next hundred yards or so of trail after a stream crossing was invariably muddy and uphill. Duck walking to escape the stream bottoms was very tiring indeed.

By the time I reached the finish two hours after I started, I my legs were jelly and I felt completely spent. Still I felt pretty good about finishing until the next day. Though I wore shoes that I have worn walking for hundreds of miles, I still managed to bang up the ends of my second toes on each foot. Two days later my "knuckle" on my large toe on my left foot started swelling up a bit and as I write this two days later, still felt a bit like I fractured something in it. Not sure what I did wading through those creeks and mud for seven miles but I definitely managed to do some damage.


I didn't want to head my post with this photo for obvious reasons but the two gentlemen whom need no pointing out, were nearby to me for almost the entire seven miles... unfortunately. I finished a few people behind the cowboy and the bearded man finished somewhere behind me.

***********************************************************

Hobbling through the grocery store on my gimpy foot, I ran across a guy who looked familiar but I just couldn't place. He came up to me and asked if I lived on such and such street and that he had done some electrical work for me over the years. I immediately remembered who he was. He shook my hand and told me he wanted to thank me for the referrals he has gotten from me this past year. I have never had that happen before but told him that since he always did great work for me, I was happy to pass his name along to others. I love it when good deeds come back around again.

***********************************************************

To catch you up to speed on a previous post, the load of hedge balls turned out to weight 2520 lbs so my daughters split $252 between them. My dad brought the money up one evening in the form of $1 bills which he scattered all over our living room to the delight of our daughters who had never seen so much money in one place. After they picked it all up and counted it, I took it and deposited half in their savings accounts for when they are older and exchanged the other half to larger bills to spend as they wish. They were very happy to have experienced this money lesson.