The legend of Leave-a-Penny/Take-a-Penny

February 17, 2007

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinates Abraham Lincoln.

In 1909, Abraham Lincoln is put on the penny.

Immediately as a form of post-mortem protest people leave the Lincoln-headed pennies on the obelisk of the Booth family plot in a cemetary in Baltimore, where John Wilkes Booth is buried in an unmarked grave with the rest of his family. No one does this with five-dollar bills (Lincoln first appeared on these in 1914), because five dollars is too much to spend on anonymous impersonal revenge.

People walking past the cemetary who know they will need a penny to make exact change for whatever reason stop by the plot and take the necessary amount of pennies. People who have spare pennies jangling in their pockets leave pennies on the grave for others, and to get back at the guy who shot Lincoln.

Eventually this practice expanded outside of Baltimore and is now practiced in convenient stores everywhere, but without people being mad at John Wilkes Booth. Except for me. Whenever I leave a penny in one of those little plastic trays, I yell “Who’s laughing now, John Wilkes Booth? Who’s on currency? Not you, Mr. Shitty Actor! This is for giving us that punk-ass Andrew Johnson as president, you Confederacy-loving bitch!”

Then for some reason I’m not allowed back in that store. Why do convenience store people love John Wilkes Booth so much?


One comment

  1. Convenience stores love John Wilkes Booth, because he was a great American! He killed that tyrant Lincoln! Lincoln was responsible for the deaths of over 600,000 American men, women, and children in the “Civil” ? war. Lincoln deserved the death that he was given.

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