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Don't bury yourself with your coins

Section: Daily Dispatches

Dad's Coin Obsession Costly for Family

By Rick Brown
Kearney Hub, Kearney, Nebraska
Monday, June 15, 2009

KEARNEY, Nebraska -- Gold and silver occupied a great deal of Dean Krotter's time and energy.

The Palisade resident spent a lifetime hoarding coins, firmly believing it was the only way to provide for his family when the economy collapsed and anarchy spread across the country.

"My father didn't leave a map of where he buried this large cache of coins," author Alison Johnson said. "He'd only buried part of them. We knew they were buried in the back part of the garage, which had a dirt floor, but it was a very large garage."

Searching her father's home in southwest Nebraska revealed almost 4,000 pounds of hidden gold and silver coins.

Johnson detailed her family's story in a book called "The Eleventh Hour Can't Last Forever." She will be reading from her memoir at noon Thursday at Kearney Public Library.

"We just had a vague idea of how many coins were buried away," Johnson said. "We tried to look everywhere in the house."

The irony of her father's actions, Johnson noted, was that his obsession with financial security took a toll on the family.

"He didn't pay attention to the family in other ways," the author said. "Eventually, it contributed to my mother having a nervous breakdown at the end of her life. My oldest brother became a hopeless alcoholic and actually lived in a Salvation Army shelter for a couple of years."

Johnson wrote "The Eleventh Hour Can’t Last Forever" in 1984-1985 but waited to publish the book until her brothers died.

"I originally intended to publish the book anonymously," she said.

In her first drafts, she changed the location from Nebraska to Kansas and changed most of the names.

"I finally decided not to publish the story yet," Johnson added. "Both of my brothers died in the past few years since 2000. There was a lot of very frank, negative stuff about them in the book. At this point, I thought I could go ahead and publish it."

She decided to use real names and locations because she thought it would mean more to the reader. The memoir was released by Cumberland Press in 2008.

"I made very few changes," Johnson said of the manuscript she created 25 years ago.

The author sees her father as an eccentric person rather than someone who had a serious mental problem.

As an example, Johnson said: "Dad used to drive on the wrong side of the road in order to wear his tires evenly. I remember once when I was young I was driving home with him from McCook and a patrolman stopped him. Obviously the patrolman thought Dad was drunk."

Krotter was able to convince the officer he was sober and was let off with a warning.

"Trip after trip, we just couldn't get Dad not to do that," she said. "He just thought that made sense."

Johnson hopes the book will be received as a tribute to her mother.

"She really was a wonderful woman and put up with quite a lot," she said.

"I think the basic message of the book is that life is very complicated and unpredictable. Books like this can be interesting because so many people have said, 'Oh, we have problems kind of like that in our family.'"

Johnson said most people don't talk about challenges in their families. That leads to the illusion that most families don't have challenging situations in their day-to-day lives.

"When you write a book like this, you find out that a lot of people have similar problems," she said.

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