When I was growing up, my Dad would sometime use the term "sawbuck" to describe a ten dollar bill. I never asked him why it was referred to as such, and I'm not sure he would have known had I asked him, so I looked it up.


"Sawbuck" is a slang term for a ten spot. Hamilton. Good legal tender. Simply put, there is a similarity between the shape of a sawbuck device and the Roman numeral X (10), which formerly appeared on $10 bills.

A "double sawbuck" is a twenty dollar bill.

This is what $25 in Tenino, Washington, "sawbucks" looks like, as it's literally made out of wood.

Thomas Reuters Foundation
Thomas Reuters Foundation/Gregory Scruggs

During the Great Depression, in 1931, Tenino, Washington printed their own local wooden currency to restore consumer community confidence after the town's bank failed. So it just made sense to fire back up their wood printing currency machine that had been gathering dust for almost 90 years.

The result: $25 wooden bills bearing the town's name - Tenino - with the words "COVID Relief" superimposed on the image of a bat and the Latin phrase "Habemus autem sub potestate" (We have it under control) printed in cursive.

97.1 KXRX logo
Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Tenino, (Pop. 1,852) is located about 60 miles southwest of Seattle, and the town brass decided to start printing the local banknotes in April, five weeks into Washington's lockdown.

Anyone with a documented loss of income as a result of the pandemic is eligible for up to $300 a month of the local currency.

Everywhere you go, up and down Main Street in Tenino, businesses are accepting the wooden notes. Sorry, but you'll still need the regular greenbacks to purchase booze, pot or lottery tickets. Everything else, put the wood to it, and call it good.

More specifics on the fabulous backstory and how it applies, details wise, in the now, here.

More From 97.1 KXRX