Pennies ... from Vince

Don Barone
Vince Miller started penny pinching long ago.

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

 

"Luck be a lady tonight … "

Dateline:  Heads you win …

I have a pair of lucky BVDs.

Haven't been able to get into them since 1978.

Explains a lot.

" … they call you lady luck … "

I have a lucky Buffalo nickel.

Me being a Buffalo dude.

2011 Bassmaster Classic … New Orleans … wrote some pretty tough stories, needed a break, you know the kind, body in motion, brain in pause, so I was heading out from the hotel to some casino across the street, planned on just sitting in front of a penny machine, hit the button, watch the lights, get my head back.

So I'm about to walk out that door thing that goes around in circles, just had my door entering timing down when someone grabs my arm … throws the whole door challenge off.

It's KJ … Kelly Jordon.

He asks me, "Where you going?" I say "over there," and point to the bright lights big casino, he then says, "here take this, play it, you're lucky."

And with that he hands me a $20.

Blows my whole reason for going over there … so much for spacing out 12¢at a time … so I go, no way I'm putting his $20 in a slot machine and hitting go though, so when I get in the joint I walk straight to the Black Jack Table, put KJ's $20 down … cards dealt … I say, "Hit me," the dealer gives me some weird look, the guy next to me clears his throat, "guffaw," the dealer turns over the next card, "three … 21."

I'm thinking to myself, "what?" 21, no way, 16 and 3 are 19, guy next to me butts out his cigarette says, "you got some there buddy, going for it with 18 on the table … "

18!

I added wrong.

Thought it was 16.

Picked up the money, left the casino, went back to the hotel and found KJ, gave him his $20 back, and a new Benjamin, $100 bucks, told him, "don't ever do that to me again," walked back out the spinning door to go back and veg out in front of the penny lights.

Walking across the street took the Buffalo nickel out of my wallet, rubbed the tail side where the Buffalo lives.

Said, "thanks" under N'awlins Neon.

" … but there is room for doubt …"

Never heard of this penny luck thing before.

Seems if you find a penny on the ground and it is sitting there looking at you, heads up, you pick that up and stick it in your pocket. Heads means good luck, according to everyone's Grandma.

Sitting there tails, not looking at you, you pick that up and give it to someone, then as the Grandma's tell it, "you'll both have good luck."

I can't bend to tie my shoes so I let the other guy pick up the change littering the streets.

And one of those dudes finding coin all over the place is Vince Miller, the manager guy at Fish 'n Stuff in Little Rock.

Back in 1995 Vince used to run a fishing circuit called, "Angler's Choice" and at one of those tournaments, forgot to ask him exactly which one but it's not a detail that means a thing to the story so don't be dwelling on it, so at that tournament as the boaters were taking off, as they went by him he would toss a penny into their boats for good luck.

Personally I'm not fond of people throwing change at me, especially if I happen to be driving by them, but if it brings good luck, I'll duck.

But one of those anglers who ducked the copper coming their way was Kevin Short, before he became K-Pink.

"Vince tossed this penny into my livewell and when I looked at him he said it was for good luck."

So Kevin takes off with an almost empty live-well, just has a penny sinking to the bottom in it.

"I come in that day, with one fish … weighs maybe 2 pounds."

Must not have been the right penny.

"Next day same thing happens, BUT, Vince instead of throwing one penny into the boat, Vince tosses a whole handful of pennies."

Kevin weighs in that day with 13 pounds.

Been getting pennies from Vince ever since.

" … at times you have a very un-lady-like way of running out … "

Except … this year.

Sort of shows in, you know, the standings.

The first year Kevin makes the Elites, he brings his boat, the Elite wrapped BassCat, over to Vince at the tackle shop and Vince tosses a penny into it.

"I used to keep all his good luck pennies in the livewell, but after a while they started turning green -- didn't think it would be good for the fish."

Good thing Kevin took them out, wouldn't be much room in there for the Bass … now he keeps all the good luck coins in a baggy in a storage bin in the boat.

For some reason though, this season K-Pink never brought the boat by Vince for the good luck coin toss. "Yeah he never came by here so I texted him that I have some good Wheaty ones for you."

A "Wheaty" penny is that one you have around that turned sort of gray, it was made from 1909 until 1958, has some zinc stuff in it and two wheat stalk things on one side.

One of those Wheat cents can be worth a ton of money, all the others are worth, you know, a penny.

But Kevin never texted Vince back, "So after his last bad tournament I called him, and he agreed with me that he needed some of the good luck pennies."

I didn't know that, or frankly, ANY of this penny luck thing when I got into the truck with K-Pink the other day, so when we drove up to the Fish 'n Stuff store I just thought K-Pink was buying some sort of lure thing.

I was wrong.

" … stick with me baby, I'm the guy that you came in with ... "

So, we walk into the store, walk right past all the lure things, walk right into the back office, and there sits Vince.

"Hey Kevin … " Vince reaches into his pocket and brings out a handful of pennies … "I grabbed these out of the jar I keep all the lucky coins I find lying around … " he opens his hand and yep there is a fistful of luck … about 8¢ worth of luck.

I'm looking at the luck, up to Kevin, then over to Vince, wondering if I should be ready to start dodging the throw change sometime soon, and then suddenly Vince says to Kevin, "what year were you born in," and Kevin says "1961 … " which immediately makes me feel even older, and then from Vince, " … well looky here … a 1961 found penny."

And then he hands Kevin the 1961 birth year lucky penny.

I'm thinking I don't know if they have casinos here in Arkansas, but we should be running to one and sticking THAT penny in the penny slot … retirement could be one pull of the lever away.

Vince told me later when I went back to the store alone to verbally polygraph him on the chance he just happened to have a 1961 penny in his pocket, he told me, under db oath, "It was just luck that the penny was in my pocket, I just reached in the jar and pulled out a handful and put it in my pocket, I had no idea what year he was born."

Uh huh.

 

So the good luck penny universe has been made right and K-Pink now has added the lucky 1961 penny to the baggy filled with good luck pennies.

And however it happens I'm hoping my good friend's 2011 season of Elite tournament fishing turns around for him.

I know he has the talent to win, he's done it twice at the Elite level, not sure pennies had much to do with it, I'm calling more due to crankbaits than coins.

But just to be sure.

If he looks closely into that bag of lucky coins.

Somewhere in there, he will find …

… a lucky Buffalo Nickel.

From a Buffalo dude.

" … luck let a gentleman see

just how nice a dame you can be."

Luck Be A Lady

Frank Sinatra

-- db

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