To: Luke
From: Owen
Re: Flight to Tokyo GO!

It's funny what the mind archives sometimes, and the reveries these things inspire. This week I found a 1968 Swiss franc in a pile of quarters dispensed by the laundromat coin changer. I looked it up online, halfway fantasizing I'd found something rare. I've never seen a Swiss franc before.

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Turns out 1968 was the first year the coin wasn't minted in silver. The U.S. quarter made a similar transition in 1965. And that reminded me of a guy I knew back in Cooperstown, N.Y. about 12 years ago. He would save quarters he found from 1964 or earlier - in addition to the date, you could tell they had silver because there's a reddish-orange band around the reeded edge. Once he had enough he'd smelt them himself and make something out of it. A ring. A charm. Another lump of silver to be combined with something else down the line.

Pat was his name. I can't even remember his last name, but I can still recall his spaced out demeanor and the deadpan hippie humor he'd toss around. Pat carried himself like a stoner but the guy was a lot more intelligent and resourceful than he projected. He introduced me to alligator - as a food, not a live animal - during a cookout one July. We made sandwiches out of them. Something about reducing a deadly top carnivore to a goddamn sandwich still makes me laugh.

Cooperstown is known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but it's unforgettable to me for the people I knew there, like Pat. And Missy, she worked with Pat in the same grocery store over the summer, then went back to Russell Sage and played goalie for them. I think she went up to Seattle and became a physical therapist. And the Pioneer Park kids: Havlik, Ralph, and Lonnie. Havlik was a busboy, and once bragged to Steve Carlton on Hall of Fame weekend that he was going to get laid after work. Carlton gave him a bottle of wine off the table to help the endeavor. I know Lonnie went to the Culinary Institute of America. Not sure about the others. I haven't spoken to them in a decade.

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Anyway, here we are. Back at the Swiss franc. I don't know who put it in a roll of quarters. They probably thought they were handing something off to someone else. How right they were:

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