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July, 2004 - Nr. 7


The Editor
Vorsicht Satire! Fussball
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Vorsicht Satire! Tier-Ausweis
Zurich Connection
Rachel Seilern
Dear Mom
KW & Beyond
At the Fringe
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Dick reports...
Sybille reports
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German Cultural City
Award for "Head-On"
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A Lesson from Lessing
Olympic Spirits Alight
The New President
Bye, President Rau
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Record-Breaking Rally
Coin Shortage
"Hermann the German"
Helmut Newton
NY remembers Slocum
Solarstrom auf Vormarsch
Three German Sites...
Venus Draws Stargazers

A Coin and some Common Ground


Rachel A.I. Seilern

One spring day in 1999 my cousin Tim was tilling up the family’s little vegetable garden on their farm on Woodbine Avenue where he had grown up, when his shovel hit something with a ‘clank’. This was not so unusual as he has often unearthed pieces of old pottery and original horseshoe nails: it’s the nature of soil to hold and then bring back things from the past. But after wiping off a layer of mud, he was holding a large coin in his hand--- a sort of medallion. On it was inscribed "Fegans Homes" along with a bust of a man, the dates 1935 and 1938, and the name Richard Rice. ‘Was it a real estate award of some sort?’ Tim wondered. He decided for the time being just to tuck it away with his other goodies in what he called his Junk Drawer.

Two years later his family made the hard decision to pack up their household and move away after living there for 31 years. The coin made it into Tim’s collection of treasures important enough to be brought along. He just had a feeling there was a story behind this coin---more than real estate. His curiosity never subsided. Finally last summer he found a website explaining that the Fegan Home was the name of a boys’ orphanage in England! He immediately wrote to the contact person in Canada asking if he had any knowledge of a Richard Rice. The man responded, "I know him well! Yes, he was a "Fegan Boy" and he would love to hear about the coin." In no time my excited cousin Tim was speaking with Mr. Rice in person, telling him, "I have something that belongs to you." Richard, 87, was thrilled about the news!! Within days a visit was arranged: the Toronto star was invited, Richard Rice would be reunited with his medallion, and we were going to hear the story behind the coin.

Sunday, December 21st, 2003, Mr. Rice came to our home. My whole family gathered around him as if it was Christmas morning. Tim presented Mr. Rice with the coin and after a few tears of emotion, and many pictures snapped by the photographer, Mr. Rice began to explain the meaning of this coin. Mr. Rice was a ward of the Fegan Homes until he turned 14. Then he was given the opportunity to live in Canada and work on a farm, which he was eager to take. It just so happens that he lived and worked on that same farm where my cousin spent his youth and raised his own family many years later. (Mr. Rice eventually married the girl who assisted in the household.) But during those 4 years when he earned his keep on the farm, he was saving up any extra money he made in order to pay the fare of another Fegan Boy to come to Canada. He was awarded the coin when he had raised those 45 dollars.

He told us that he must have lost it in the field shortly before he was to move to Toronto at the age of 18. He recalled his disappointment over loosing it so many years ago. He shed some tears of joy over the returned treasure and also perhaps over all those boyhood memories and uncertainties that flooded back with one look at his old coin.

Sometime during the summer, Tim and his family will take Mr. Rice (and all of us who are eager to join) for a visit to their old farm on Woodbine Avenue to reminisce and share stories of their common ground.


Comments to: rachel@echoworld.com


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