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Coining a way of life

Marlon Madden

Coining a way of life

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Some consider these coins to be “small change” and throw them away after receiving them. But for one man, collecting them is more than a hobby.
In fact, it is almost like a full-time job for 74-year-old Winston Maxwell, who walks around Bridgetown on a daily basis carrying a piece of stick with a magnet attached at the end and a hairpin for the stubborn coins.
Maxwell said he started walking around and “picking” up coins over six years ago after he got the idea while working as a general worker on a “stuff truck”.
“I start after I resigned my job on the stuff truck. But while working on the stuff truck I pass there so by Queen’s Park and see a man throw out an entire box of cents . . . I saw [people] throwing away these coins.”
And so he started a different kind of coin collecting.
“Then I decide that I going get a magnet . . . ,” Maxwell recalled. “A man talk to me and tell me to put it on pon a stick, and when I pass through the bus terminal I just pass and touch [the coins] and they would come up.
“A time I pass and see an American dollar in the canal and I get a hairpin and put it on the same stick and reach it up. Sometimes it just be in a close corner and when you put down the stick it does come up on the magnet.”
He said he would occasionally find other items. “One time I went down by the wharf and I see a chain in a canal, and the next morning I got a long stick so I could reach it,” he said.
But he mostly “sticks” to coins.
“Every day I pass through town I does see nuff. And now the students are back [in school] you does get more ’cause the students does throw them way too. All in the bus stand.
Some of them go in the supermarket and buy something and if they get back three odd cents they does throw it out, saying they don’t got no room in their purse for that,” he said, laughing.
Maxwell described his daily routine, which he said began and ended at the
Fairchild Street PSV terminal. “When I ketch the bus, I start from the bus stand, then go around by St Michael’s Row and go down behind the Olympic. I come back up and go through Broad Street and come up there between Woolworth and the other building where the people sit on the bench.
“Then I find myself back in Swan Street and keep my way down behind the Main Guard, where it burn out, and come back down pon the other side. I go up on one side and come down pon the next.
“When I go up Baxters Road I may find nuff up there where the men buy the beers and the drinks,” Maxwell said.
“I collect about $4 for the day. I would say the most I ever collected was ’bout $4.50 or around there. When I go down by the ZR stand down there in Fontabelle, I find nuff down there. The least is be ’bout $2 or $3. On Wednesday it may get a little lighter.
“If I did touch all over, man, I would get about $1 million,” he said with a smile.
After collecting the coins from the street, Maxwell cleans them and takes them to the bank about once per month, coming away with about $10 for his efforts.
He said that he had no plans to quit his coin collecting habit: “I plan to continue to do it till I dead.”
This father of one son said he used the money he collected to help him pay his utility bills.