November 2, 2006


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Nashua Publisher's Note: Bigger and better and more!
By Jeff Rapsis

Never mind doubling your money. How about quadupling your money?

That’s what you’ll do if you turn in any wheat cents (from before 1959) during this year’s ongoing Penny Picker fundraiser. As announced last week, I will pay four cents for every old Wheat cent turned in.

“Quadruple” is one of those great words I learned in third grade at Amherst Street School and kept using all that year. I knew “double” and “triple” from baseball, but it took math lessons to introduce me to “quadruple” and “quintuple.”

I don’t think we learned “sextuple,” the next one in the series, because there was no way the word “sex” could be uttered among kids or in public at that time.

But back to the present. The annual Penny Picker fundraiser, in support of the Nashua Pastoral Care Center, began last week and continues this weekend and the next.

Teams of volunteers are visiting Nashua neighborhoods, going door to door and collecting spare change.

To help out last year, I agreed to pay two cents for every wheat penny. I ended up donating $5 for something like 250 coins.

But America is all about bigger and better and more, so this year you can quaduple your money. Bigger and better and more! Yes!

And this reminds me of something else I learned in Nashua’s public schools. When I took Mr. Hodge’s Shakespeare class at Nashua High School, there was one thing I couldn’t understand.

These plays, regarded by many as the greatest ever written, were on average 400 years old. What I wanted to know was, what about progress? Look at how things had improved since the 1590s in areas such as, say, public sanitation. How come in all that time no one had been able to write any plays as good or better?

Mr. Hodge explained that an art form like theatre wasn’t the same thing as science. In science, it’s possible to build on the work of others and make progress—to stand on the shoulders of giants that came before us, as Isaac Newton put it.

But the quality of theater—and any art form, really—was a function of changing circumstances that ebbed and flowed like the tides. Politics, economics, and education levels all play a part.

Once in awhile, circumstances conspired to create the right conditions for timeless and lasting art, and only occasionally people came along (like Shakespeare in theater and Beethoven in music) who rose to the challenge. A lot of it was timing and luck.

So much of life can be divided into two categories: things that improve year after year, and things that ebb and flow like the tides.

And the Penny Picker fundraiser? With me doubling my offer from last year to quadruple the value of each penny, it definitely fits into the “things that improve” category.

Which means next year, I’ll have to “octuple” my matching offer.