What Our Possessions Say About Us

What Our Possessions Say About Us

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.



ShaindleSchmucklerI had to make my weekly stop at the gas station. I am quite choosey about which gas stations I frequent and I only frequent those which meet my particular requirements.

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You would think I always choose the station with the cheapest prices.  I try.  However, there is a more crucial requirement: cappuccino coffee.

I can feel the shock and disdain of coffee connoisseurs all over the world (I assume the Jewish Times is read all over the world, because if it isn’t folks are missing quite a treat); Connoisseurs who were drawn to this article wondering what’s in my wallet.

We will get to that. But first, I strongly suggest you try gas station cappuccino.  Yes you read correctly, gas station cappuccino. It is way cheaper than you-know-who, and delicious.

As I was pulling my frequent user card from my purse to hand over to the gentleman across the counter, the change from my little money purse jumped out onto the ground making that awful sound only lost money makes.

The young man in back of me in line to pay for his purchase was kind enough to help me pick up the pennies, nickels, quarters and dimes trying to escape. And suddenly I was back in Del Ray Beach.

Mom and Dad retired to a lovely condo in Kings Point on Del Ray Beach Florida. After mom died, I flew down to Del Ray Beach a number of times to support my dad, to get some administrative work completed, (we never think about all the paper work one must complete after we lose someone we love) to gather some precious items for my sisters and myself, and to have some private grieving time  with dad.

One of the items I discovered while trying to weed through some of mom’s things was a small, extraordinarily beautiful pearl encrusted purse.  I remember that purse.  Mom loved it; very fancy, very rich looking. Perfect for special occasions like weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, cousins club (remember those?), or a fancy dinner.

What I found inside this silk-lined purse became the impetus for “What’s in Your Wallet?”

“Do you have your mad money with you?”  Mom would ask me when I was getting ready to ‘go out.’  “How much do you have?” was her next question, followed by “That’s not enough,” before she would hand me a few more coins.

One warm but lovely Saturday evening in June, I heard my dreamy boyfriend’s secret knock on the door to my family’s apartment. It was my birthday and he had a surprise for me.

We would take a birthday train ride into Manhattan (we called it birthday train because I loved riding the trains) and then to a Broadway show where I would allegedly receive my surprise.  I was so psyched.

As we are about to walk out the door, we both heard my mom sing out, “Shaindle, did you take your mad money?”

Oh good grief Charlie Brown!  How could she? It was so embarrassing. Thankfully, my Mr. McDreamy laughed.  What happened next is another story.

Mad money could reside almost anywhere. My shoes or my sneakers were convenient spots; so were my socks.  I also found that my roller skates could hold quite a bit of my money. There was the convenience of keeping some mad money in my bra.

And then there is the very best suggestion of all, which came from my Aunt Ruthie z”l.   Aunt Ruthie told me to keep my mad money in a knipple (a small hanky tied tightly shut) and kept in my underwear. This did not work out as well as one might hope.

Oh my Aunt Ruthie also taught me how to knit (I still knit exactly the way she taught me).  My aunt Ruthie was the oldest and the tallest of her three siblings; my mom, Aunt Jeanette z”l, and the youngest of the brood, my uncle Zaidle z”l. Yes, she was a giant at 5’ 2”.

Dear reader, if you have been reading attentively, you should have guessed by now what I found in this beautifully beaded pearl purse with its gold chain handle.  The only question you should be asking is, “How much mad money was in the purse and what else did you find?”

What I found tells mom’s story.

Mom loved nice things. She had great taste and she knew how to shop. She did not like extravagance. She liked class.

A pink French provincial tufted sofa surrounded with white wood; a marble inlaid coffee table to offset the sofa. Two fabulous French provincial end tables with statue based lamps. You get the picture. Now, back to mom’s purse.

What I found in her purse was a nickel; One lonely nickel. Can any of you imagine a nickel for mad money?  I can’t! But that’s what she had tucked inside her lovely lavender kinpple.

Then, of course, there were two items which mom could not leave home without; a small beautiful gold mirror with bling around it, and the mirror’s compatriot, a reddish-colored lipstick.   Together these were mom’s go to items. Oh, and the ever-present little brown comb with a gold handle with just a touch of bling.

I also found beautiful, delicate white gloves and a hankie with her initials embroidered on it in shades of purple. These precious objects bring back such delicious memories.

Speaking of memories – I took the following objects from her remaining possessions: a beautiful, delicate silver necklace with an oblong shaped watch hanging from it, and the lace doily with the little bow on top that mom wore on her head at shule, the pearl and silk purse with the items mentioned above and had them placed in a large shadow box. This shadow box now hangs in my family room above my eggplant sofa.

So now you know what was in her “wallet.”  Mine is not so interesting. No mad money, no mirror, no lipstick and often times no money at all, mad or otherwise.

My frequent user card is the most precious item I carry. Do I hear a resounding, “Seriously?” Yes, seriously! It’s an item I will guard with my life.



Shaindle would very much like to thank her aunts, uncles, cousins, pretend aunts, and pretend uncles and pretend cousins for blessing her with the most incredible childhood.  After all, where else would Shaindle have learned about a ‘knipple’; where else would she have had the opportunity to play with her sisters and cousins on the fire escapes lined with blankets or mattresses? Where else indeed!


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