They called it the Lettuce Box, and it helped out many an Ohio State student who was short a few bucks.

The Lettuce Box was the creation of Will Parker, owner of a popular student hangout known as Hedon Hall. It was his way of helping out former GIs who needed money during their time as students. His Lettuce Box, which hung on a wall, had ten $5 bills hanging on clips. The box looked—and operated—like a mini-library, but instead of books, students could check out money.

Here’s how the lettuce Box worked, as described in a story in the April 25, 1949 issue of LIFE:

A student only has to get Parker to unlock the box, take the bill, sign his name on a card and clip it face down into the box. If he does not return the money in five days, the card is turned face up and is disgraced.

And best of all, it worked. Just about everyone paid the money back. The story said Walker had issued a cumulative total of $2,500 in loans, and only once did he lose the $5.

In LIFE’s story the Lettuce Box provided the financing for a student named Bud Shively as he embarked on a weekend of enjoyment. He borrowed $5 (the equivalent of about $63 in 2023) on a Friday and then let LIFE photographer George Skadding follow him around and chronicle how he spent it over the course of the weekend.

Shively’s first purchase was a nickel cup of coffee, and also indulged himself with pinball, candy and cigarettes. Then the expenses grew with the arrival of a woman Shively had met over the summer and who was visiting Columbus for the weekend. Shively took her out for burgers and Cokes at White Castle, and he spent more on cotton candy and arcade games at a circus. The next morning he gave his sister 15 cents to iron the clothes he planned to wear on Saturday night. He also spent 60 cents on a gasket for the jalopy he was working on, a ’33 Plymouth. He added to his bankroll at a late-night poker game on Friday but then lost back most of winnings at the pool table the next afternoon.

And what finally took his bankroll down to zero? A 25-cent donation to the church plate on Sunday morning. By the time his Sunday afternoon picnic with his date and some friends rolled around, Shively was living off the generosity of others. LIFE’s story concluded, “As these pictures show, he made the most of every cent, just managed to get through to Monday.”

All thanks to the Lettuce Box, a simple creation that generated a lot of joy.

Will Parker (right), owner of popular campus coffee shop Hedon Hall, retrieved a $5 bill from the “lettuce box” to loan to Ohio State student Bud Shively (fourth from left) Columbus, Ohio, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively signed out a $5 bill from the “lettuce box” at a campus hangout that provided short-term loans to students, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively, after borrowing $5 for the weekend, broke the bill to buy a 5-cent cup of coffee; if the shop caught him eating the sandwich he had snuck in with him, he would have been charged 25 cents, Columbus, Ohio, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively spent 15 cents from his $5 loan on a pinball game, and he played well enough to win five free games.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively (right), after borrowing $5 to get him through the weekend, spent 5 cents on candy and 20 cents on cigarettes, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively spent 60 cents from his $5 weekend loan on a gasket for his “late ’33” Plymouth, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively worked on his ’33 Plymouth, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

At a circus on Friday night, Ohio State student Bud Shively, having borrowed $5 for the weekend, spent 20 cents on cotton candy and 25 cents on a parasol for his date , Vivian DeMaria, who was visiting Columbus from out of town, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively and his date Vivian DeMaria watched clowns performing at a circus; Bud had been given a free ticket and spent $1.20 on one for Vivian, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Staked with $5 for the weekend, Ohio State student Bud Shively and his date Vivan DeMaria spent 40 cents for burgers and Cokes at a White Castle, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Staked with $5 for the weekend, Ohio State student Bud Shively and his date Vivan DeMaria spent 40 cents for burgers and Cokes at a White Castle, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively increased his weekend bankroll when he won 40 cents at a poker game that went until 5 a.m. Saturday, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively (left) studied with his friend Red Eyerman (right) on a Saturday morning while his sister Lorita ironed the shirt he planned to wear out that night; Bud paid her 15 cents for her services, 1949..

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

After winning 40 cents the previous night playing poker, Bud Shively (left) lost 35 cents the next day while playing billiards with friend Red Eyerman, Columbus, Ohio, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Bud Shively and his date Vivian DeMaria enjoying an arcade game; Bud had been an aerial gunner in the Navy, and he spent 40 cents on the game. After that he had $1.39 left from his original $5 weekend loan.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively and his date Vivian DeMaria spent 14 cents on more arcade games such as a Kiss-o-Meter, Columbus, Ohio 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

At popular hangout Hoovers, Bud Shively spent $1 from his $5 loan on burgers, beers and a tip, and after that he and his friends were given a free round for signing Ohio State songs, Columbus, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively and his date Vivian DeMaria tried a penny-arcade game in which the promised “screen test” turns out to be a mirror, 1949.

Ohio State student Bud Shively, girlfriend Vivan DeMaria and friend Red Eyerman (foreground right) at church on Sunday; Shively placed the last 25 cents from his $5 loan for weekend merriment in the collection plate, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

The weekend included a picnic on Sunday afternoon put on by the girls; by this time Bud had blown through his $5 loan, Columbus, Ohio, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

“I’m sure glad you’re buying this,'” said Ohio State student Bud Shively (left)) to his date Vivian DeMaria during a Sunday afternoon picnic; at this point Bud had blown through the $5 he had borrowed for the weekend, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Ohio State student Bud Shively and his date Vivian DeMaria walking along by the river as their weekend came to an end, Columbus, Ohio, 1949.

George Skadding/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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