History lesson: Morris store owner jinxed himself

MORRIS – F. B Handwerk once owned a hardware store on Washington Street where Kindlespires Auto Supply is today.

He used to brag that he would never be caught taking a wooden nickel. No one would ever take him for an easy mark.

What he didn’t realize was that he was setting himself up for a fall.

J. C. Carr was cashier at the Grundy County Bank. One spring afternoon in 1900, Carr went into the Handwerk Hardware store and made a small purchase, amounting to 25 cents.

It was a little dark in the corner of the store where they were standing. Carr pulled two or three coins out of his pocket and casually handed them to Handwerk, saying that he’d better check them to see if they were right, he didn’t have his glasses.

But the store owner impulsively took one of the coins and threw it into the cash drawer.

Carr knew what he was doing. That coin was actually a brass bread check. It sat in the cash drawer all day.

That night, Handwerk emptied the drawer and took the money to the Grundy County Bank. It was an embarrassing moment.

There at the bank, in front of the other customers, the owner of the local hardware store emptied his cash onto the counter and there was the phony coin.

Handwerk swore up and down that he never had any knowledge of taking a bad coin. Besides, a blind man could tell by the weight and the feel of the thing that it wasn’t a quarter but a bread check.

F. B. Handwerk could not fess up to being careless and making a mistake. But he never took a wooden nickel or a bread check again.

• From: “He could not be fooled.” Morris Daily Herald. May 1, 1900.

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