A boy in grade school once asked me how many clocks and watches we had at our house. I was never good with numbers. I said, "Oh, about a hundred." He made fun of me. "No you don't! You couldn't have a hundred clocks and watches in your house!" The conversation ended. After school I went home and counted. I was nearly half right.
The clocks in our home included wrist watches, pocket watches, alarm clocks, wall clocks, and mantle clocks in all sizes and varieties, and probably a few other kinds I've forgotten. Most of them were there because they didn't keep time properly or at all. You see, my father had a small, second-job business as a watch and clock repairman and as a jeweler, a trade he learned through a correspondence course.
Each watch or clock that came in for repair received a tag on which was written the owner's name and phone number. My father had little hooks inside his roll-top desk where he hung the smaller ones before and while repairing them. You can see a few on the left side of his desk in the photo at right. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Most of the clocks returned to their owners when they were keeping accurate time. A few owners never came for their timepieces and more than a dozen of the clocks and watches in our home belonged to my father and our family. We all had our own alarm clocks -- the wind-up kind. We all had our own wrist watches -- also the wind-up kind. And there were several clocks throughout our house.
One of the constant time-keepers in our home was the clock you see on the back wall in the photo to the left. It was an electric Bulova advertising clock. The only numbers were 3, 6, 9, and 12; dots took the place of the other numbers. It had a second hand and a light. Whenever we needed to come downstairs at night there was the friendly clock, like a nightlight, casting a small glow. I don't know when or where Dad got it but it seems like it was in the same place from the time I was little until we removed everything from the house before selling it.
The other constant time-keeper was my father's wrist watch which he carefully wound every day. I don't know how he knew the correct time but he was always careful that our clocks were set accurately. Whenever I returned home for a visit from college he'd ask me how my watch was keeping. He'd have a look at it, reset it if necessary, then hold on to it for a day to see if it was running on time, fast, or slow. If not on time, he might keep it till I came home the next time if I could spare it.
I think I took time for granted when I was younger, even as recently as 10 years ago. It came, it went, I did things and there would be more time later or tomorrow. These days I have the sense that time is moving faster than I am, that I may run out of time before I run out of things I want to do. When I was a child living with someone who watched time carefully, I don't remember an extreme emphasis on time other than that some things were always done at the same time, namely, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
With all the clocks there was never complete silence at our house. It was not a small cacophony, if you're wondering, but rather a quiet, friendly, soothing sound. The clocks didn't interfere with conversation, music, or the television. Sometimes the tick of the clocks was the only sound we heard, a sound which was very comforting. All's right with my world - or will be soon - if I can hear a clock ticking.
This is a Sepia Saturday post. If you have time, I invite you to visit Sepia Saturday to find links to others' photographs and words about clocks, time, and a variety of other topics.