Poetry Workshop for Seniors: “Penny Nostalgia”

Lydia Aiken-Wilson, who has had an article about her life and some previous poems published on Litchatte has been writing poetry for many years and can find inspirations in people, on long walks, in silent reflections, and memories of the carefree times when she was a little girl. In her poem,  “Penny Nostalgia” she uses a penny as a metaphor for a time she remembers as being carefree and wonderful. She reflects on the idea that the penny had so much value in her mind, that she felt rich having possession of one. See her picture and poem below:

Lydia teaching the numbers
Lydia Aiken-Wilson


“Penny Nostalgia”


In the 40’s and 50’s a penny in the USA had much value.

It could buy many things that could satisfy you:

Like eight Kits in flavors of chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and lemon.

We mustn’t forget bubble gum and cookies of delicious cinnamon

With a penny, we could buy many commodities at Mr. Farrow’s store.

We could buy more than what’s mentioned; so I’ll tell you more.

Two ginger snaps and a Johnny Cake made us salivate.

Licorice in flavors of many a color,

Satisfied the taste buds like no other.

An empty Pepsi or Coke bottle we could trade for a penny.

Other drink bottles also had a penny’s monetary value, yes many.

Two Mary Jane’s and two Squirrel Nut Zipper candies made our mouths water and we’d sing.

With a penny, we could even a delectable candy ring.

Some lollipops were so big it seemed they lasted all day long.

Yes, when we had a penny, we were monetarily strong.

And if we had five pennies, we were considered “rich.”

We could even buy delicacies-many a gourmet dish.

A scoop of ice cream separated the rich from the poor.

Five pennies made all this possible-Who could ask for anything more?

The neglected penny has been replaced by as much as five dollars  today.

However, memories of its once grandeur are with us to stay.

After Lydia recited her poem to our poetry workshop at LLIChesterfield.org , she told us that, when she was a little girl, she stole a penny from her grandmother’s penny jar. When grandma wasn’t looking, she threw it over the porch, and onto the ground in front of her house. When she ran down the steps and shouted excitedly that she had found a penny, her grandmother was wise enough to know that it was not true. Of course, she got punished for it. She also told us that for ten pennies she could ride on the city bus. With transferring, she could go almost anywhere. Although, as a black person, she had to sit in the back of the bus. But, she said she accepted this restriction and rode the bus with smiles. If you would like to offer your two-cents about what you think about this poem, please write a comment to this site. Or you may write me at ellisonms2@vcu, and I will share your comment with Lydia.



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