Sunday, May 17, 2009

An Old Friend

My mother collected several antique clocks when I was young. We have the grandfather clock, which moved in with us in the late 1960s and carried with it quite a story, which I will have to add over on Mother's Words one of these days. It ran like a top for many, many years, but it had some problems. The bottom of the cabinet was worm eaten and we fully expected to get up one morning and find him flat on his face. The winding mechanism was also faulty and had to be handled with care else one of the heavy weights slip and crash to (and through) the floor.

There was the black mantle clock which also ran well for a good long time and then, suddenly, decided it was not going to run any longer. It had a deep "bong, bong" on the hour, which would have been more fitting in the grandfather clock. Grandfather was, instead, a tenor and sounded a high-pitched "ding, ding" when he chose to ring the hour, which wasn't necessarily on the hour. (He was also known to ring thirteen every so often.)

Both of these clocks have recently had some restoration done on them. Grandfather's base was repaired and the winding mechanism fixed. However, he doesn't seem to like where he sits in our present house and refuses to keep running. I hope to find a better place for him one of these days where he might be happier. The black mantle clock runs great when it is in the repairman's shop, but refuses to run when it's home. Again, it is probably a matter of finding the right place in the house where it will be happy.

When I was at my aunt's house last weekend, I visited an oak mantle clock that resided with us for awhile. It has a rich history, having been a family heirloom that survived the 1947 explosion in Texas City. When my parents divorced, it was returned to my aunt for safe-keeping. It still runs and I had the pleasure of listening to it sound the hours the night I spent in her house.

Mother acquired two more oak mantle clocks. One she had repaired and gave to her father. It eventually stopped working and we brought it home and tucked it in the back of a closet. The other ran for awhile, but something broke and it sat still and silent for a long time. When we moved to our new house, it too took up residence in the closet.

While clearing out the closet this weekend, I pulled the two clocks out and gave them a look. The one that had belonged to my grandfather is definitely broken and I'm considering building a miniature clock shop inside its cavity. The other looked perfectly fine and I found myself wondering just what exactly had broken and just how expensive it might be to have it repaired.

It didn't take long to discover that the striking portion of the clock is kaput. The spring must be broken because the key does nothing. However, the spring for the time portion wound easily and I decided to see just how long it would run before it quit.

It's been going for 8-1/2 hours now without missing a beat. I decided to put it in my kitchen area and it has been keeping me company all day as I worked. Its tick-tock is a nice, cheery little addition to the house and I'm hoping it will keep running.

I wish I had tried this earlier. It's been sitting silent for almost ten years now. If it keeps up the good work, I may just have to see about getting the striking mechanism repaired.


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