By Marjorie Stradinger
Editor’s note: The following is the third in a three-part series. The first part appeared in the Aug. 19-25, 2009, issue, and the second part appeared in the Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009, issue.
Don Smith opened Don’s Coins and Collectibles a year after his wife, Regina, died. Her love for Beanie Babies launched what has become a retirement career for him, and a plus for Rockton’s Main Street.
Don Smith and I enjoyed our carryout mostaccioli from Roscoe’s Anna Maria’s as we sat in his Rockton coin and Beanie Babies shop and continued talking about his love for collectibles and why he opened the Main Street store.
Retiring from the Rockford Police Department in 1993, he still spent two more years in the sheriff’s department, at the courthouse.
“You could have just retired, instead of this,” I said, looking around his coin shop. “What made you start having the overhead of a store?”
“My wife died,” he said. “I didn’t want to just sit at home watching that stupid television all alone. I got tired of watching the…the doggone stock market.”
“Speaking of markets, this doesn’t seem like it would be a good time to be in retail,” I commented.
“I couldn’t get into my third bedroom anymore,” he explained. “Boxes all over. Beanie Babies,” he chuckled.
I asked about investing in gold and silver, and about Franklin Roosevelt making it illegal, then, to own gold bullion—punishable by prison. Only 22 percent turned in their gold back then.
“Then, he closed the banks, and things were bad,” I stated.
“They haven’t gotten better still,” Don said. “Then, (we started) the Federal Reserve. It’s that guy Obama’s got for running the Federal Reserve. You’d think someone like Obama, who’s an attorney, would realize this.”
“Why don’t they?” I asked.
“Politics,” he said.
“Does it make you angry?” I questioned.
“No,” Don explained. “I just wish they’d do something else. What I’m afraid of is socialized medicine. I don’t like that. I’ve talked to people from Canada and different places that have [it]. It’s not very popular because their taxes went through the roof. I’m not happy about it. I didn’t vote for it.”
“Will we ever go back to a gold standard?” I asked him.
“Not as long as we have Obama,” Don said. “They’re talking about getting rid of the paper and going to the European-type money system.”
“Based on what?” I asked.
“Socialism,” he laughed. “Everyone will have the same money. It will all be worthless. This guy came in [here] all upset, worried to death that our money isn’t going to be worth a nickel.”
“Well, it’s not worth much more than that now,” I laughed. “My concern is for my children and grandchildren. You watch CNBC and wonder if these Wall Street people are confused or whether they know.”
“They’re confused,” Don said. “The Obama administration has told everybody not to say things bad…to get people all calm.”
“We’re not getting the real news?” I asked.
“No,” Don said. “You’re getting phony news—politics. He knew when he went into office…everybody knows he’s…lying.”
“Do you think we’ll ever go back to prosperity?” I asked.
“I do,” he said. “It’s not a fall-apart situation. If they keep lying long enough, people will start trusting…politicians…again.”
“It’s still precarious prosperity…a bomb waiting to explode,” I commented.
“The politicians will make it look prosperous,” Don said. “It will take three, four, five years. We’re going to do it, and then it will drop again. It’s always done this since we’ve been in this country—(like) back in ’29.”
“Every civilization that got greedy fell,” I said. “Americans think they’re invincible.”
“They’re finding they’re not invincible…especially people losing jobs,” he said. “As long as they don’t have socialized medicine. If we get [it], taxes will go up about 50 percent, I tell you.”
One of Don’s two daughters called. His loving tone told me lots about his parenting. He has two grandchildren. He loves family and gardening.
“I’d help (my mom) out cooking…raise stuff in my own garden,” he said. “We used to doggone can stuff. Pint jars, quarts. We’d pick black raspberries and make jellies and jams and stewed tomatoes. Big deal down in the basement…a whole wall full.”
“You’re rather domesticated,” I said.
“Free tip on coin collecting?” I asked.
“Get an education,” he said. “Read. Depends on what you want to collect. I pay 90 cents for Indian head pennies, and sell ’em for a buck.”
“They worth more than Mercury dimes?” I asked.
“People want ’em,” he said.
“Pitfalls?” I asked.
“Right now, China,” he said. “Major counterfeits—Morgan dollars, peace dollars, and other valuable coins from other countries.”
“We’re getting bad fish, bad toys from China,” I said. “Now, you’re saying counterfeit coins and collector stuff. Do they have an agenda?”
“They’re going to win without shooting a shot,” Don surmised. “They’re buying pieces of our country from businesses and from the government. Counterfeit [coins] from 1949 or earlier—it’s legal in China.”
One of these counterfeiters brags about selling them on eBay.
“Costs him 50 cents to make a counterfeit Morgan dollar,” Don said. “He makes a thousand a day selling them to the U.S. and all over the world.”
“Does this affect your quality of life?” I asked.
“It’s going to when we get socialized medicine and all this other…socialism that Obama’s pushing,” he said.
“Parting words?” I asked.
“Watch the politicians,” Don said. “Live life like you’d like people to treat you.”
From the September 2-8, 2009 issue