Pete’s Coins

by kfrego

When my school finished in Memphis my second leave in four months allowed me to spend some time at home. Assignments to Hawaii required two years duration and it wasn’t practical to pay for round trip travel from Hawaii to upstate New York on less than ninety dollars a month wages. Leave in the middle of winter wasn’t perfect, but it was time at home. One of the instructors from the base in Memphis was headed for his leave in Massachusetts. He owned an Oldsmobile station wagon. Two riders and myself  rode with him into New York State. We all shared expenses equally. My last leg was a flight from Albany to Plattsburgh.

When things were slow around Lyon Mountain one place to hang out was the American Legion. When Pete Pivetta was tending bar on a slow night he loved to do bar tricks and tell stories. He was pretty upset with me the first time he saw my military identification. I don’t recall how my age came up, but Pete was convinced my age was older than it actually was. He looked at my ID, frowned, and dropped it back on the bar. “You little bastard. How many years have you been drinking at my bar? And you’re only eighteen years old.” he said while shaking his finger at me. Then he showed me another bar trick.

Pete’s best bar trick was one he did with coins; a nickel and a penny. You could never catch him as his fingers worked the coins. It wasn’t magic, he was just good at doing the trick. Late one evening Pete showed me how the trick was accomplished. He made me promise not to let anyone know how the trick was performed. He gently placed the nickel heads up in my open palm. He made a few of his hand waves six inches above my hand, then gently picked up the nickel between his thumb and index finger. The nickel never was out of site and his hand was empty when he started. He held the nickel above my hand which now had a penny heads up in the same place the nickel was removed from. He gave me a little while to comprehend what I was seeing. He told me to look at the back of the penny. The penny looked like a nickel tails side on the back. Pete took the penny and slipped it into the back of the nickel. When the two pieces were together it looked exactly like a nickel. When apart it became a nickel and a penny. Pete never explained the origin of his nickel. Fifty years later I’ve never seen anything else like it.

The Pete Pivetta’s of this world are few and far between……………..just knowing one of them is a real great adventure.

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