Do You Know Where That Money Has Been? by Erika Raskin


Granny Sally with my mom.

My granny Sally, who had a pillow-like soul (except for when she was playing gin rummy and this badass alter-ego would jump out and stomp the competition) used to warn my siblings and me to wash our hands after touching money. We’d crack up thinking it was just an old (Jewish) wives’ tale that somehow involved sticking dollars down one’s pants.

But last weekend I noticed something stamped on a $10.00 bill. Intrigued, I went to the .org address and discovered it was a website for some Aryan Nation group trying to drum up like-minded miscreants citizens. After I finished worrying that my site visit might have somehow been recorded by a master-race web-master, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the marketing technique.


I don’t know if it’s legal or not—but how slick is hand-to-hand cross-country advertising that sends people to their computers for a little interactive promotional activity?

But back to Granny Sally.

Her family escaped the pogroms in Eastern Europe by way of Argentina, which was where she was born. They were trying to get to Ellis Island. I’m a little fuzzy on the geography-slash-details but the lore includes them getting on the wrong boat because they were looking for the one that was destined for the country that began and ended in an ‘A’.

Hello Buenos Aires.

They eventually made it to Minneapolis where she fell in love with my grandfather, Sam Bellman—who went on to become the first Jewish legislator to represent the city in the Minnesota state house. A socialist-slash-democrat he and Granny Sally raised a civil rights lawyer and a feminist—a whole family dedicated to lifting up others.

Bringing me back to the Aryan group. Pass the Sharpie. And the hand-sanitizer. Granny Sally was right.

Edited Aryan message.

Erika Raskin
Erika Raskin, the fiction editor of Streetlight, is the author of Close (Harvard Square Editions) and Best Intentions (St. Martin’s Press). Find more of her work on

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2 thoughts on “Do You Know Where That Money Has Been? by Erika Raskin”

  1. Oh, this is so funny–and so well-written, from the pillow soul of granny through the complex, history lesson of your family’s arrival in America, right up to the obliteration of the-group-that-shall-not-be-named. Economical, yet absolutely packed to the brim with story and political comment. Well done.

  2. This reminds me of If you find that stamped on your dollar bill, you can go to this website and enter the serial number. They will tell you where that dollar bill has been. What cities, etc. I believe that this website has been told that they should not deface bills by stamping stuff on them. So maybe your Aryan “friends” are breaking a law. Unfortunately, I have never used “Where’s George” and found that my bill had made a particularly interesting journey. Usually it has traveled only a short distance. The first letter that appears in the serial number on a one dollar bill represents the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) that issued that dollar. This used to apply to all bills but since the ’90s it only applies to ones and twos. (And twos are rarely issued, so you are not likely to find them in circulation.) On fives, tens and twenties, it might be the second letter that represents the Bank. If the first letter on a one is “A,” that means it came from the FRB in Boston, B means it came from New York, C is for Philadelphia, D is for Cleveland, E is for Richmond, Virginia, and F is Atlanta. It only goes up to L which is for San Francisco. My wallet currently has only three one dollar bills, all marked with the letter B. Long ago, they also printed the name of the city in tiny letters on each bill, but they stopped doing that some time ago, in the ’90s, too, I believe. The key for the letter/city system can be found at

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