Do you have change for an elephant hair? -- Gazette.Net


What’s in your wallet?

In this economy it might be easy to say “not much,” but a random survey of Frederick folks who were quizzed about their billfolds undercovered everything from cherished movie ticket stubs and good luck symbols to a playing card that saves you from the potential embarrassment of having to drop your drawers.

Let’s look at that last thing first.

Danny Hohge, who works at a downtown Frederick tattoo parlor, said she has the joker card in her wallet as a reminder of her Brooklyn, N.Y., college days. She began carrying it in 2003 after a friend told her about a game that requires you to drop your pants if someone flashes the joker at you — unless you can respond with your own joker card. She recalled her friend flashing his card while on the subway, and he got an immediate response from a man at the other end of the train who dropped his trousers.

“It was the New York subway, so nobody questioned it,” Hohge said.

Mary Jean Clark, owner of Voila! tea shop on North Market Street, knows exactly what an elephant hair looks like. She carried one in her wallet for more than 10 years.

“It looked like a piece of curled-up wire,” Clark said.

The hair came from an elephant’s tail and was given to her by an animal trainer who told her that when an elephant’s hair falls out, it means good luck. She turned down his invitation to go off and join the circus, she said, but kept the hair in her wallet for years. Eventually, it became misplaced when she moved from California to Maryland.

“It is probably in a box somewhere,” Clark said. ”I still think about it from time to time.”

Candy Mercer of Frederick recently bought a new wallet and is transferring the contents of the old one, including a small stone that has an angel painted on it.

“I got it for my mother when she was in surgery,” Mercer said, finding it in the Frederick Memorial Hospital gift shop. Her mother, now enjoying five years of her colon cancer being in remission, “gave it back to me.”

Mercer describes herself as “very spritual,” and said the special stone reminds her “that someone is always watching over me.”

Sue Stuck of Mount Airy also feels at peace having certain items in her wallet — an insurance card and Motor Vehicle Administration identification card that once belonged to her teenaged daughter, MacKenzie, who died after five years of fighting brain cancer.

“I have a hard time taking those things out,” Stuck said. “I know it’s real, I know she’s not coming back, but there’s a reminder that she’s still with me. I don’t like the permanency of taking them out, this way she can ride around with me.” Stuck also carries a photo in her wallet of her four children.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Alan Patrick Linton Jr., 26, was working in his office with an investment banking firm on the 104th floor in the World Trade Center’s south tower. He died when the second highjacked jetliner hit the tower, bringing down the building. Two months later, his parents, Alan and Sharon Linton of Frederick were given the only tangible remains of their son — a small bone fragment and the contents of his wallet. The New Jersey driver’s license, credit cards and other everyday personal items that most people probably never even think about, now are held by the family as something special.

Office in a walletTransIt bus driver Isaac Wilkes’ wallet is all business, but everything in it has a little back story — starting with the pile of receipts he cleans out once per month associated with his role as treasurer at The Will of God Church on Pleasant View Road in Adamstown. A Giant Eagle card also is tied to the church, used when he buys fried chicken for a congregational meal after Sunday services.

“I drive over to West Virginia and pick up a group (that’s where his Sheetz card comes in handy, plus he can earn free coffee) and we have to feed them,” Wilkes said.

“I have just one major [department store] credit card, one from Kohls where I buy my underwear, that’s all I buy there. I only want the finest underwear because I have to be comfortable sitting here in the seat,” he said, parked at the station, ready to start his route again.

“I’ve got my [Department of Transportation] card in case I get stopped by the man,” he said, and “I try to keep some Hamiltons folded up in there, because you never know.”

Lauren Nopenz, who works at the Dancing Bear toy store on North Market Street, likes to think of her wallet as her safe — it contains everything she cares about and doesn’t want to lose such as ticket stubs from the most recent movies she and her boyfriend have seen, “The Hunger Games” and “Brave.”

The dozen stubs now in her wallet represent a small fraction of the collection she has at home, including one from as far back as “Finding Nemo” and the early Harry Potter films. “One day I hope to frame them all,” she said.

Also hiding out among the ticket stubs is a $2 bill her boyfriend passed along to her when his uncle gave him a couple of them. But the one thing Nopenz doesn’t have in her wallet is a credit card.

“I am not allowed to have a credit card,” she said. “I am bad with money.”

Just as most young people can’t wait to have a driver’s license to slip into their wallets, Nick Busl of Frederick, a server at Isabella’s on North Market Street, proudly carries his newly-acquired scuba certification card in a wallet similar to the one carried by Samuel L. Jackson in “Pulp Fiction,” reflecting what a bad guy he was.

Busl has yet to use his scuba card, but is dreaming of visiting the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean.

Be preparedFrederick Mayor Randy McClement (R) has a bandage in his wallet.

“I was always taught in the Boy Scouts to be prepared,” he said.

McClement said his first job was working construction, and he would frequently cut himself at work. The bandage came in handy so frequently that it stuck with him — so to speak — for life.

“It’s amazing how often people will say, ‘Does anyone have a Band-Aid?’ and I can say ‘Yeah, right here,’” he said. “My hardest part in later years is remembering to put it back. There will be times when I go for my Band-Aid and think ‘Oh, gosh, I forgot to put it back.’”

Frederick County manager Dave Dunn, a 30-year veteran of the Prince George’s County Police Department, said his wallet contains a permit to carry a firearm. Aside from seven years in the patrol division, Dunn said he spent most of his time in the major narcotics section.

The police experience, he said, helped give him a real-life perspective on how the world really works.

Kevin Lollar, former director of Frederick city’s Hope VI, just returned from walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The 500-mile pilgrimage tested his strength and will, and taught him to travel light in the future. “I took way too much stuff,” he said.

But his wallet is pretty spartan. He still carries remnants from his travels abroad — a card to get him into a hostel and a Spanish phone card — plus pictures of his two children and a discount card for Barnes & Noble. But the one thing missing is cash.

Raised in Washington, D.C., Lollar said he realized early on to never carry cash in his wallet.

“I keep it in my front pocket. You learn that growing up in the ghetto,” he said. “That way if someone steals your wallet, you still have your money.”

Frederick County Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) didn’t grow up in a ghetto, but like Lollar, likes to stash his cash in a front pocket. He keeps everything else wound tightly in a rubber band in his other front pocket. Young said he isn’t worried about being robbed, he just doesn’t like the feel or the look of a wallet in his back pocket.

“I hate a wallet,” he said.

In the rubber band-bound packet, the elected official and businessman carries his driver’s license, credit cards, medical cards, family pictures and membership cards to the VFW, Jeffersonian Patriotic Club, American Legion and Moose. He also carries a check from someone who owes him money. The check, dated a year ago, is one that bounced.

Staff writers Sherry Greenfield, Katherine Heerbrandt, Tripp Laino, Nancy Luse, Ryan Marshall, Margarita Raycheva and Morgan Young contributed to this story.