Calling Crane Books
Coins in the Ashes by Joe McHugh

On a cold winter night in 1931, a lone motorist driving along an isolated stretch of two-lane highway in Sussex County, New Jersey, noticed hungry tongues of yellow flame licking out from under the eaves of a small building next to the road. The building was a hamburger stand called Aunt Kate’s, and the motorist, seeing no house nearby, raced down the road until he found a telephone booth where he called in the blaze. By the time the fire engines arrived, however, it was too late; Aunt Kate’s was engulfed in flames.

The owners of the ill-fated restaurant were Al and Anna Quinn. When they arrived at the scene of the conflagration, what they found was nothing short of heartbreak: glowing sparks swirling upward in the fire’s vortex, the roof caving in, the walls falling away, the despondent firemen in their three-quarter boots rolling up hoses and stowing axes, nothing more to be done.

Nine months earlier, Al and Anna lost their life savings when the bank in the nearby town of Netcong failed. Since then, they had stashed their hard-earned money inside a cigar box tucked behind a sack of Gold Medal baking flour on the bottom shelf of the storeroom at Aunt Kate’s. Now the money was burned up, along with the building.

They returned later that morning to survey the wreckage with their daughters: Ruth who was fifteen and Beverly who was nine. The sky was overcast and the forecast called for snow later that evening. Al handed his younger daughter Beverly an empty coffee can and told her to sift through the ashes to see if she could find any coins.


I enjoyed reading "Coins in the Ashes." Thanks so much for your great book.
~Jim Williams, Boise, Idaho

"Let me just say: it is a good book, and you all should buy one right now."

~Carol Piening, Olympia, Washington
Coins in the Ashes by Joe McHugh
300pages - softcover

Available on Amazon