Friday, September 17, 2010

Whirl and Spark

Remember these? They were made out of tin, and sold for fifteen cents or so at Woolworth's.

A plunger operated a gear mechanism that spun the wheel around. A flint like those used in cigarette lighters would spin against a piece of sandpaper on the wheel, causing sparks to radiate from the whirling circle. There were ports in the wheel, with red and blue light gels in them, to color the sparks as they came out. It was quite magical, especially in the dark. We used to like to take them in the clothes closet and shut the door so we could see them better in the daytime. I suppose Mother wouldn't want us making sparks in the closet for any extended period of time, but we got away with more, back then.

I remember the smell of them, a metallic ozone smell like nothing else on earth.

I'm reminded of all this by something I saw on the way to work. Those new LED light bars that the police are using remind me of those magic spinners. Every time I see them. I suppose if I saw them in my back mirror on the roadside, I might think differently. But maybe if I should ever be in such a situation, and mention it to the officer, it might make a difference. "Excuse me for interrupting, Officer, but did you know what those red and blue strobe lights on top of your car remind me of? .... " Maybe that would not be a good time to mention it, after all...

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'm @dimbulb52 on Twitter, or email me at

1 comment:

leslie said...

Yes, I remember those! And the new police lights make me stabby.

Thanks for your comment love! :)