Daily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel

Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?


Being a European I have not got a clue what A buffalo nickel is, but that is probably not so important. I also have no couch cushions with money or on the floor of the car, so I emptied my purse (see photo) and decided to take the large coin in the middle, known as a “fünfliber” in our local Swiss German dialect, meaning it has the value of five swiss francs. This coin is dated 1979 so I had to return to the past. I quite often have to return to the past in these daily prompts, but they say the older you become, the better the memory for long distances. This means that what I did yesterday I have already forgotten, but what I did thirty-five years ago stays fresh in my memory.

My oldest son was nine years old, just the most disturbing, nerve wrecking age to have an autistic child. However, he was having internal schooling in a special school during the week and could sleep there, so only came home at the week-ends. My step son was then seventeen years old and was still in apprenticeship, coming home for lunch every day. His sister was two years younger and also had begun the first year of her apprenticeship, also being at home for lunch. My youngest was four years old and was still at home, so how did I bring all thing down to one common denomenator being a working mother. You just needed more funds when you had a family with four children, and an extra wage was really necessary.

It was all a matter of logistic and planning and with fingers crossed hoping it would all turn out for the best. My husband was then working in another town, so he was away all day until the evening. Mornings were strategic operations, getting the two oldest supplied with breakfast and out of the house. At that time I had my first job, not yet in an office, but as a cook of all things in a place where children were looked after during the day when their parents were working. It was a fortunate job as I could take my 4 year old with me. My husband dropped me off on his way to work with the car and my youngest was then delivered to his group of children. I then started work by making breakfast for forty children approximately, and the twelve adults that belonged to the staff. During the morning I prepared lunch for the same amount of people. Luckily I did not have to do the baby food and bottles as the lady in charge of that group did that.

After lunch everyone went for a break somewhere or the other, and I stayed working through and having the job of keeping an eye on the babies and the smaller children. They were supposed to be sleeping, but babies are recycling machines when they are small, so I changed about twelve diapers per lunchtime. Eventually everyone came back from their break, and I prepared the food for the afternoon break. In between I was cleaning the kitchen and sorting food for the next day. I also had to keep an eye on supplies, to make sure there was enough food to go round every day. The advantage of working through the lunch break was that I was finished for the day at 3.30 in the afternoon, although it was still a long enough day when I started at 7.00 a.m. I usually walked home with my four year old through town and got the daily shopping.

I did have an hour or so to sit down and relax at home eventually, but around 6.00 in the evening the next shift started when the two oldest and my husband came home. The two oldest had fixed their own food at home at lunch time and so it was cooking again for the evening meals. It was really just a matter of routine I suppose. I would add that I got a great deal of support from my husband. He helped where and when he could at home. Ironing shirts, or filling the washing maschine was not too much for him to do. Cooking was not his thing, but helping to clean bathrooms and kitchens was normal.

I had this job for two years, until I eventually found my ideal office job where I could use my english knowledge, but looking back on the tough years, I just took it as it came. How did I do it? I do not know. I just did not have the time to think about it.

Daily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel