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Ramona's Ramblings

Got paper money?

Ramona Jan
Posted 3/7/23

At the winter farmers market held in Callicoon’s Youth Center, you can find almost anything; baked goods, trout both smoked and freshly fileted, mushrooms, spirits, cheeses and other dairy …

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Ramona's Ramblings

Got paper money?


At the winter farmers market held in Callicoon’s Youth Center, you can find almost anything; baked goods, trout both smoked and freshly fileted, mushrooms, spirits, cheeses and other dairy products, and lots of locally grown produce. And unless you wear earplugs, you can’t help but overhear some ultra-fine column worthy conversation.

Last week, as I entered the Youth Center, a father and his very young daughter were hurriedly passing me on the way out. “We’ve got to get some paper money,” said the father to the daughter. Paper money? I thought. Gee, I haven’t used that term since playing Monopoly. Paper money in my world was always board-game money, colorful phony-baloney money. Real money was just…money. For a moment, it made me think how so many expressions have changed. 

For example, the now popular term ‘forest bathing’ used to be called ‘a walk in the woods.’ A ‘sound bath’ was once ‘listening to music.’ Medical Marijuana was ‘pot’ and the word ‘slay’ now means ‘good job.’ ‘Word?’ when asked as a question means ‘are you telling the truth?’, ‘ghosted’ describes how you broke up with someone by rudely disappearing, and ‘big yikes’ is the new way to say something is bad.

While mentally listing as many new vs. old phrases, I caught another bit of conversation. “Mom, give me your ATM card, I need some cash,” begged an eight year-old. My ears pricked up at this one because I simply wanted to hear the parental response. “You can’t have my ATM,” said the mom. Phew! I thought. And then she added, “Here’s my credit card. Use that instead.” I didn’t understand the logic, but now I suspect why actual ‘paper money’ is fast becoming outdated. 

I come from the era of ‘cash is king’ but never thought to truly understand where the expression comes from and what it really means. A quick online search unearthed this:

• “Cash is king” has been a popular phrase since the global stock market crash of 1987. It was used then to proclaim the superiority of cash over other assets, due to its tendency to sustain its value while others fall. It remains popular today, particularly when we see market corrections or crashes.

• “Cash is king” also refers to when companies have large cash balances on their balance sheets allowing them more flexibility in managing their business and their obligations.

• When businesses only accept payment in cash as opposed to credit cards or checks, the phrase “cash is king” is commonly used.

• “Cash is king” is a phrase that refers to the superiority of cash over other assets or forms of payment.

I didn’t know that ‘cash is king’ was at all tied to the stock market. I thought it was the best way to avoid paying taxes; something, of course, none of us do.

Despite the declaration ‘cash is king’ today, more and more businesses are not accepting cash and only take plastic, the very thing young children associate with money. My own daughter, when she was about eight or nine, once said to me (when I told her I didn’t have enough cash to pay for something she was eyeing), “Just use the plastic. That’s what Lyndsey’s mom uses.” I tried explaining that everyone’s plastic was attached to something called a bank account where real dollars lived and if you didn’t have enough real dollars in your account, the plastic was useless. She didn’t buy the excuse. And she was right because you could always purchase on credit, but I felt she was too young for that deep dive. Historically speaking, it’s hard to depose a king but just like by-gone phrases, real paper money along with its counterpart in coinage may someday also be a thing of the past.

RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at callicoonwalkingtours@gmail.com.


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