Homeless in Vancouver: Penny...not a popular baby name, either

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      Some nice person left out some returnable bottles in a paper grocery bag (yah!). Under the bottles was a handful of coins, almost totally pennies (eh?).

      I cherry-picked the dimes and nickels and left the pennies.

      Canada discontinued the penny two years ago. The coins are still monetized and bankable but you can’t just walk into any bank branch anymore and redeem rolled coins; it needs to be a bank you have an account with.

      I surrendered my bank account a few years ago—it was costing me too much money.

      If the grocery bag had been full of pennies, it would have been worth running around to find an automated coin return machine.

      The Safeway supermarket at West Broadway and McDonald Street used to have one, and the Canadian Tire at Cambie Street and West 7th Avenue may have one.

      But the bag wasn’t full or worth it.

      I’m homeless and I collect and cash in nickel- and dime-value beverage containers, yet I leave behind pennies?

      This may seem wrong-headed to some people. After all, they say beggars can’t be choosers, right?

      Wrong. The panhandlers I know don’t keep pennies either.

      And if pop cans were worth only a penny each rather than a nickel and I had to roll them up and cash them in at a bank, I doubt I’d be collecting pop cans either.

      Not a name to conjure with

      The popularity of the name Penny in B.C. almost overlaps the run of a syndicated newspaper comic strip of the same name.

      According to the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency’s Most Popular Baby Names Website, B.C. recorded its first 10 babies named Penny in 1942. Penny, a popular comic strip about a teenage girl created by Harry Haenigsen, was distributed from 1943 to 1970.

      In 1950, a total of 47 newly minted babies named “Penny” were registered in British Columbia—the most ever.

      In 1984 only 6 babies born in B.C. were named Penny. And for the next 25 years not a single baby Penny was issued in our province.

      Not even parents in Penny, British Columbia, could see their way toward ending the drought by naming so much as one newborn after their own town.

      Meanwhile, production of the Canadian one-cent piece, commonly known as the penny, ceased in May 2012, and the Royal Canadian Mint ceased distributing them on February 4, 2013.

      No sooner did the penny stop being a coin then it once again became a baby name in B.C.—just not a very popular one.

      Five B.C. babies born in 2011 were named Penny and then seven more in 2012 and still another seven in 2013, the last year for statistics.

      So what is the most popular money-related name for people, by a wide margin?

      Loonie” of course. I’ve even been called that from time to time.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer.