miner got nickel put in frame

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Janeca

Senior Member
Portuguese
Hello, everybody,


Please I'd appreciate some help in understanding the following sentence taken from John Dos Passos' The Big Money. The action takes place in 1929 and depicts a talk held between a foreigner miner called Mestrovitch and his radical union «comrades». Mestrovitch's difficulties with the English language make it harder to understand:

«[...] "Anybody got a nickel?"
"Here, I got nickel" said Mestrovitch. [...] "Damn funny... miner with nickel. Down our way miner got nickel put in frame send Meester Carnegie Museum... very rare."»

And then the topic changes completely.

Can you understand the story he is telling? Did a miner from his mine find great quantities of the metal called «nickel»? Did he find a 5 cent coin that was special for some reason («very rare») and so he put it in a frame and sent it to the museum? I really don't get it.

Thank you.
 
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  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The speaker is being sarcastic about how rare it is for a miner to have a nickel to spare. It should be framed like a piece of fine art and sent to a museum for display. Carnegie was a great philanthropist who funded museums and libraries in the United States.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with tepatria.

    This is how I'd "translate" it: Down our way, if a miner had a nickel, he would put it in a frame and send it to the Carnegie Museum.
     

    Janeca

    Senior Member
    Portuguese
    Yes, it makes perfect sense. Besides, a little afterwards, another character (Mary French) says:

    «"Oh, Lord", said Mary, with tears suddenly coming to her eyes. "That was his last nickel."»

    Thank you both very much! :)
     
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