Sometimes a routine stop at a local business can yield unexpected results. Such was the case last week when I visited Parsons Jewelry to pick up a couple of watches and a necklace my wife had left for repair and cleaning.
While checking out, I noticed a Burroughs Cash Register sitting on the front counter. Burroughs products have a personal significance to me because my father was a salesman for Burroughs Corporation in 1966 in Wichita and 1967 in Pratt. I was two years old when I first lived in Pratt. Subsequently, I don’t remember from that time other than stories my father has told me over the years about his work at Burroughs. While he was in Pratt, he said, Charles Rinke was the lead man for repairing the machines.
Anyway, back to the story. I asked Steve Parsons about the cash register, and he said it is still used daily, adding that the store has moved into the technological age with debit and credit card transactions. When younger employees use the old Burroughs though, Steve said that he sometimes has to help out with counting back change. As I looked over the machine, I noticed a metal tray covering a portion of the keys and asked him what this was. He said that this covered keys to prevent accidental large transactions, such as up to a million dollars. Steve said that jewelry store employees have joked over the years that they had to ask permission to remove the cover. He admitted that he couldn’t recall anyone ever making such a large transaction, however.
Steve said that Parsons Jewelry has always used a Burroughs Cash Register. The model they are using today is one the store picked up from the old Meyers Radio and TV Repair in the 1980s. Meyers replaced its cash register with an electronic one at the time. Steve said that it’s “still a good, old reliable machine,” even if it’s hard to find ribbons that fit.
For those who are interested, Burroughs Corporation was founded in 1886. It ceased to exist as a brand name in 1986 when it merged with Sperry Univac and was renamed Unisys.