“A Quarter for Your Thoughts” by Renee Hughes

Because I wanted to keep the quarter more than I desired to visit a premier St. Louis floral venue, I stayed on the school bus during a grade school trip with another girl who did not have the fee. Half a century later I entered the Jewel Box today in Forest Park. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!

Being but a 10-year old when my greed exceeded my cultural inquisitiveness, I doubt anyway I would have appreciated the exquisite Art Deco architecture with the ceiling soaring 50 feet over palm trees. The exterior gardens tantalized my senses enough back then—why bother to go inside?

Since I eventually used the conservatory funds my mom had given me to instead buy colored pencils for an art project, I should be more accommodating to my younger self. Not only did I keep a poorer youngster company, I bought the tools to create an entry for a contest I knew Mother would be tickled over. Being the oldest of five kiddos at the time, and eventually 11, I knew better than asking for money for other than the essentials.

When she asked me asked how I liked the Jewel Box trip, I said, “I really enjoyed it.” Which was true, since I had a fun time with my new friend on the bus, plus I was a quarter richer. I dazzled her with my description in vibrant intricacy of the exterior grounds as only an aspiring art student could do. That I did not mention the interior did not set off any visible parental alarms. I escaped detection.

Most surprising now is that I recognize the person I had really deceived most five decades ago was myself. Personal occupational goals in my youth were most often directed towards art. My latent financial bent poked its head up occasionally, such as with my economic decision of pencils over the fancy greenhouse. Eventually my business acumen took full control until now I am retired as a CPA from a career that spanned four decades.

So I returned to the Jewel Box today to let that youngster finally visit what she had denied herself many years before. Why today? Since entry into the Jewel Box was free this morning, the artist-turned-accountant obtained the best of both worlds.

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