The Mysterious Case of the Old Lady and the $1,000 Bill (And My Mom)

Mom emailed to tell me about something interesting that happened…

“We volunteered at a local theater. Dad gave out the programs and I worked the food concession. A really older lady purchased a cookie and coffee. She handed me 4 singles to pay for them. When I looked at the bills to put them in the cash box, one of them had 3 zeroes. Yes, it was a thousand-dollar bill.

“I have never seen one before and was so amazed. I don’t even know who is on it. Anyway, I gave it to her and told her to be very careful and put it somewhere else. Who would even carry such a bill? Dad asked me to point her out to him, and I was still so amazed, I couldn’t do it … Just thought I’d share the experience with you.”


OK, first off: How old was this lady? Mom is 84 and here she is calling someone “a really older lady.” 95? 100?

Second: Yes, my Mom is a very kind and honest woman, and she immediately felt protective of this woman. I’m surprised she didn’t take her home with her and Dad. And make her some soup.

Third: Grover Cleveland. He’s on the $1,000 bill. GC was the 22ndand 24thPOTUS, the only person to win and serve two non-consecutive terms (1885-89 and 1893-97).

According to the Federal Reserve: “On July 14, 1969, the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury announced that banknotes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 would be discontinued due to lack of use.”

There are still several of these big bills around, and they’re worth a lot more than their face value.

Mom: “I looked up the bill. It is worth $2,750 if in fine condition. It looked fine to me. I wish I knew who the lady is, as I would like to tell her what it’s worth and to be more careful. Dad and I are trying to figure out the story. What about you?”


Mom also went on to say that, because I’m a writer, I should write a short story about it “for the New Yorker.”

I emailed back to tell her I’m on it, and that she should alert the New Yorker. I know, I know, but Mom thinks I’m the greatest writer in the world and the New Yorker would be lucky, darn lucky, to have my short story about the old lady and the $1,000 bill.

Hey, maybe the woman is Grover Cleveland’s great granddaughter. Nah, too simple. But, I promised Mom I’d wrote a short story about her short story (which, by the way, is how John Irving got the idea for The World According to Garp – and he never once thanked his mom, the ingrate), and so I’ll write the story even though fiction isn’t my strong suit.

I always listen to my mother.

Stay tuned, I’ll keep you updated on the progress of my story (and post it here if for some reason the New Yorker doesn’t want it), and let you know if Mom runs across this woman again at the theater. Feel free to send me your thoughts, plots and dialogue and humorous anecdotes that tie in with this story. And if you happen to have a $1,000 bill lying around, send it my way. It might inspire me.



One thought on “The Mysterious Case of the Old Lady and the $1,000 Bill (And My Mom)

  1. I’m looking forward to reading your story inspired by this incident. Do you think this was a counterfeit bill (perhaps passed to here by her grandchildren as a practical joke) or due you think it was it real?


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