Clean Money

My grandmother had grown up on a farm where she was probably comfortable with animals and “good clean dirt.” But when we knew her she had lived in the city for a long time (not The City of San Francisco, though) and was comfortable with us washing our hands quite frequently, especially if we had handled “dirty money,” i.e., all money. She wore gloves quite a bit, for different purposes. It’s very easy for me to pull up the image of her holding her soft leather driving gloves that she had just removed, which kept the fragrance of her warm and soft hands.

When my sisters and I visited her from our farm in the Central Valley she would take us across The Bay Bridge to The City. We dressed up in our finest and made a day of it, though I have no memory of just what we did there. Today I was made to wonder if she took us to the Saint Francis Hotel for lunch, because she would have liked the fact that they keep their money clean.

As a proper housewife I appreciate the use of soap and water and the impulse to keep things fresh and sanitary for the health of my family. Probably even the saint for whom the hotel is named wouldn’t have turned down a gift of soap. Or money, whether clean or dirty.

7 thoughts on “Clean Money

  1. That was a very interesting article. What a neat history and tradition and I was particularly touched with they way they remembered their co-worker. I have a huge bottle of pennies that I am tempted to wash with borax. It is so full I can barely lift it. (Don't ask me why we have this because I honestly don't know.)


  2. Re filthy lucre 🙂

    During WW II my mother lived with her sister & brother-in-law in Seattle and worked in their restaurant, while my dad was overseas. Mom was the cashier in the restaurant, and she was not allowed by law to handle any of the food, because of how unsanitary the money was.



  3. This reminds me of a story about a man who paid his workers in cash, so every night before payday, his little wife would iron all the paper money so that the men would get freshly-ironed bills to put into their pockets. I always thought that was so sweet! xo Kari


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