Almost 20 years ago, Bob Puddicombe of Jenkins and Puddicombe Sheet Metal Ltd. (12 Hamilton Ave) made himself a Tin Man suit to wear to St. John’s’ first ever George Street Mardi Gras. Bob and his costume won first prize.
Since then the Tin Man – minus Bob inside – has faithfully appeared each year in the Hamilton Avenue store’s Christmas window display. The mastermind behind the festive storefront scenes, however, is Janice Puddicombe, Bob’s ingenious wife. Each year Janice dreams up something new – anything from a toy shop to the millennium celebration.
This year’s theme is “I’ll be home for Christmas,” which Janice says is inspired by the many Newfoundlanders working and living away from home. The ever-present Tin Man, charming in his black suit and white gloves, plays a baby grand piano lined with Christmas lights. Three miniature tin men in suits, more of Bob’s creations, perch on the piano’s edge singing along, holding their sheet music in little red folders. When asked about the tiny baby grand, Janice confesses it’s not a real piano, but a convincing prop made by her brother-in-law for one of her many charity-fundraising events.
Some years, the Tin Man takes part in the Santa Claus Parade. Concerned customers often call to ask about his disappearance. To calm nerves, Bob and Janice now put a sign up giving his whereabouts and promising his return.
The adorable Tin Man and his little Tin Man choir are best seen fully-lit at night.
– Lesley Thompson