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AMERICAN WEEKLY, 1936

Gadgets That Helped Grandpa
   Start Making His Fortune

WHEN grandpa was a boy, politicians hadn't yet got around to promising an old-age pension to anybody who manages to keep body and soul together long enough to claim it. In his youth he was told that if he didn't look out for his own future by saving his money he was liable to wind up over the hill in the poorhouse. But he liked striped stick candy as much as the children nowadays like all-day- suckers. So if his folks were thrifty they probably bought him one of these amazing gadgets to teach him that a penny saved is a penny earned.

     Putting money in an ordinary toy bank is no fun to a child who would rather spend it. But when a coin is inserted into these contrivances they promptly go through their diverting gyrations and saving becomes a pleasure. The four shown here belong to the collection made by Mr. Elmer R. Jacobs, comptroller of the Seamen's Bank for Savings of New York City, and most amusing is perhaps the baseball group. 
     The penny is put into the back-stretched hand of the pitcher, who is all poised to send a "fast one" over the home plate. Even though he makes an underhand throw, like a girl, he never fails to fool the batter, who swings too late, just as the coin clinks into the mitt of the stooping catcher, and goes rattling through the slot, down into a compartment, where it is quite safe from prying hairpins or shingle. nails.
     Then there is the "daring young man on the flying trapeze," or maybe it is just a horizontal bar. At any rate, a penny is too much of a burden for him to hang on to very long, and when he has one in his hand he just can't keep still. But he doesn't run the risk of burning a hole in his pocket by trying to save it that way. Instead, he promptly flips over and sticks it into the slot.
     When Johnny came marching home again, after the war between the States, whether he wore blue or gray, he doubtless soon learned that nothing gives a man such a comfortable feeling as money in the bank. One way he taught this lesson to his sons was with the sharp-shooting soldier. A penny in the barrel of the castiron soldier's gun is fired into the tree stump. A bell rings, the gunner expresses his satisfaction by snapping his head to one side, and the coin plinks into the cashbox.
     The American eagle on the figure to the right not only guards the hoard in this bank, but when it bends over with a coin in its beak, flapping its wings, the eaglets rise up as the money drops into the nest, expressing their delight by whistling.
     This patriotic idea for a penny bank may have been inspired by the old joke about squeezing a coin until the eagle screamed, but just the same this type was one of the most popular. Once the eagle got a penny in its beak it held on until the coin was safely deposited in the slot. The screaming in this case was the shrill piping of the thrifty little eaglets.
     A boy who owned one of these amusing banks was doubtless much better able to resist temptation than one who didn't. The red and white-striped peppermint candy or lemon drops in the tall jars at the corner drugstore might be ever so luring. And he might yearn for one of those "frog-sticker" jack-knives, which had blades that would on scarcely cut anything harder than warm butter, but were mighty attractive, with their polished bone handles and their glittering nickel chains, that could be hooked to a pants' button.
     But if he had one of these banks at home, whenever he found a penny, earned one, or was given one, the moral struggle against the inclination to squander his wealth was certainly much less severe.
     Modern psychologists say that the lessons which make the most lasting impression on children are those they enjoy learning. This being so, the idea of rewarding thrift by making it fun to put pennies in the bank was certainly a good one, and whoever first thought of it must have had a good understanding of child psychology. If there was anything wrong with the idea it was probably that it worked too well it may have caused children to clamor too much for pennies, so they could see the little figures do their stunts.
     In fact, there are probably a number of substantial business men today sitting behind batteries of telephones on mahogany desks, and other gentlemen pleasantly engaged in clipping gilt-edge coupons, who will recall how they used to plague the life of their elders for odd jobs that would bring in the coins needed to make these diverting gadgets click and whir.


 

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