In the bustle of the Woolworths store. amidst the polished mahogany counters and the shoppers’ stockinged legs, it was unmistakable. Rising over 6 foot high, it towered over everything and everyone to be see from far and wide.
Standing like some erect, stationary guardsman in his household cavalry livery, the bright red “lollipop” shape shone and sparkled. At its foot was a square, polished, silver metal footplate, dotted with raised rivets and floating like a weighbridge pontoon over the heavyweight base.
From there, its trunk rose up like some giant redwood sequoia, wide enough to play hide and seek behind, except that it was placed flush against the shop wall, close by the shop’s main doorway, strategically positioned to catch people on their way out . Of course that was why mum had chosen it too.
I’d always been fascinated by its face of concentric circles and its slot which ate coins. The inner circle was full of the machine’s mechanical innards of interworking cogwheels, then there was the numerical middle circle and finally, encasing them both, the pillar box red outer coat. Crossing these, one gigantic, forked clock hand always rested in the noon position to show zero stones. This hand would only swing round after someone had stepped onto the footplate and fed the machine’s small mouth with requisite amount of coins. As a three year old, my fascination to see this happen again and again would guarantee I’d stand there and wait, wait for mum to find me if we’d been separated in the crowd and not to be tempted to go of exploring, wandering off into the town traffic to get lost or worse.