Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lee Doyle, Jeweler

about 1948
My father took a correspondence course to learn watch and clock repair.  Then he hung out his shingle and took in business.

He set up shop at a desk in a small room adjoining both our living room and kitchen.  People came with their watches and clocks in hand, knocked on our front door, and were invited in.  When Dad was home and working at the desk, they were ushered into that room.  Otherwise, we wrote a tag with their name and phone number, attached it to the watch or clock, and Dad took care of it later.

Sometimes people called to make appointments or to be sure we were home; other times they took a chance, possibly on their way to other errands, and just appeared at our door.

The sign I most remember (above) hung on the side of our porch.  It was easy to see during the day and electric bulbs inside made it easy to see at night, too.  The switch to turn it on was inside our house. 

Dad added this second sign, left and below, later.  It was fixed to the top of a pole at the corner of our street and Main Street directing people eastward down Furnace Street.  Because our first house was the first on the street  it was easy to see the second sign on the side of our porch.










My father must have taken this sign down shortly before this photo was taken in the summer of 1964.  Dad continued to work on watches and clocks for another 15 years or so but eventually stopped taking in repair work.

These signs were certainly painted by hand because they were one of a kind.  I don't know what happened to them but I wish one or both had been saved.  You know how it is with large items, time, and space, though.  There are things we think would be wonderful to have in 50 years but who has space to store them, and who wants to transport them through several moves, especially when 50 years seems such a very long time and we don't have an immediate use for them or place to store them.  I wonder how many wonderful, old family items went by the wayside for those very reasons.

Observations about the photos
As I was typing this post I was thinking how awful it would be to have misspellings on a sign.  Then the spelling of "jewelery" in the top photo caught my eye.  I suppose I've looked at that photo dozens of times but now is the first time I realized that "jewelery" is misspelled.  The American spelling is "jewelry;" the British is "jewellery."  I'll never know if Dad wrote out the words and gave them to the sign painter or if he dictated the words and the sign painter wrote them.  (Was it possible to have an illiterate sign painter?)  I wonder how many people noticed the misspelling through the years.

In the top photo I see the handlebars of the trike that's next to my sister.  It would have been a hard pedal to get it there since there was only grass and no sidewalk.  On the far right I noticed the car parked on the street.  It almost looks like a convertible.

The porch on our house faced south with two maples standing in front.  It was a wonderful refuge during a thunderstorm.  We could sit on the porch, dry and safe, and watch the clouds, rain, and lightening.  It was one of my favorite places in our house in the summer.

Looking at the second photo reminds me of the double doors that opened out.  We propped them to stay open and padlocked them to stay closed.  The garage had had an addition, before my time, I think, because I don't remember it being built.  The garage may have been built when cars were shorter and needed more length for modern cars.  Or it's possible that my dad wanted to add some workspace and extended the garage so he could put a workbench at the closed end.  This garage was torn down not too long after this photo was taken and a two-and-a-half-car garage was built in its place.

To see more signs head over to Sepia Saturday 238.

--Nancy.

© 2014, Copyright Nancy Messier. All rights reserved.

26 comments:

  1. Do people even repair watches and clocks anymore? Everything is so disposable. It sounds like your dad carved out a good business for himself. Too bad you don't have that sign -- wouldn't it look great hanging in a family room? And yes, there are illiterate sign makers and most are still living. I don't think any of them know the difference between it's and its, and neither do the people ordering the sign.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is really hard to find people who repair old-fashioned, stem-wound clocks these days. I think the only ones that are still around are the ones our parents and grandparents used (IF we inherited them!).

      Yes, the sign, though large, would have been fun to have in a family room.

      I've noticed the spelling on signs, too. Or should I say the misspellings on signs? Wendy, I think you must have been (maybe still are?) an English teacher.

      Delete
    2. Oh dear -- was it the chalk dust or the red pen that gave me away? I don't like to reveal that I WAS an English teacher, you know, just in case I make a glaring error.

      Delete
  2. I like it when a blog brings out a long forgotten memory! Thank you.

    You post reminded me that I could not wear a watch in years gone by (the ones that needed to be wound every night). For some reason they would not keep time, often going to fast! Evidently my grandfather was the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon, you needed my father to repair your watch that didn't keep proper time. He was so careful to make sure that every watch he returned to a customer kept accurate time.

      Delete
  3. Yes! We still repair our watches, Wendy - my husband has a pocket watch that came down the line and we bring it to a watch repair shop every few years for a cleaning and tune up. He's probably the only one in an hour's drive though!

    What a great story and sign, Nancy! I love the story and memories of your dad's business.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's fun to know that people still use pocket watches and even better to know that you've found a good watch repairman. Thank you, Sheetar, for your kind words about my post.

      Delete
  4. One of the side benefits of contributing to SS is that it makes us review our family photos as you have just done so thoughtfully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I have to dig deep and long to find posts to go with a Sepia Saturday meme these days. Thank you, Genepenn.

      Delete
  5. Who knows too, so times people aren't necessarily spelling it wrong. like "Kemp's Kamp" a real campground, they just want it to fit better in their eyes, or with their name. You just never know sometimes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well there's a thought, Karen. There is that about names sometimes.

      Delete
  6. It's lovely that you had a sign for this week so closely connected to your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and I almost forgot about it!

      Delete
  7. You may not have the signs any more, but having photos of them is the next best thing, and great the way they bring back memories for you of the things depicted in those photos. And yes, there are definitely a lot of illiterate sign writers around, I'm always noticing spelling mistakes in printed signs. You would think a confectionery or stationery seller would know how to spell the name of their business or the product they sell for example, but no, they display their misspelt products in large letters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Jo. It does make me chuckle when I notice misspelled letters on signs. I think most folks don't notice until, like me, they stop and dissect the sign and the mistake pops out, obvious as a nose.

      Delete
  8. I loved the memories that this theme prompted for you. I have had two gentlemen come to our library just this week looking for books on clocks - both clock repairers I believe. I wonder sometimes if the spelling mistake was deliberate. I have a memory of a story somewhere that if you made a mistake, people would drop by to tell you about the mistake and then you had them. They just had to buy something or get their watch repaired :) And yes I know what you mean about signs. We had a friend stand for election in the last round of state elections and my husband wanted to keep one of the campaign signs but really.....really....we have so much junk in this house already...sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could be right, Alex, about mistakes on signs drawing people in. It would be only the literate who would notice, though. I think my mother's thought about saving the sign (if she'd been given the option) would have been just like yours: we already have too much stuff. She tended to save many smaller things but not so many larger things. I also think these signs were glass which would have made them very fragile, considering their size. It's good to know that you still have clock repairmen in your area.

      Delete
  9. I noticed the misspelling and initially wondered if this was a regional thing. I like Alex's theory but I'd bet the sign maker just got the letter spacing wrong and didn't think it was worth correcting. I just had two watches repaired by a new local watchmaker shop that may be the only specialist in 100 miles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thrilled to know that there are local watchmakers around yet, even if they're rare. I have one of my father's clocks that needs a cleaning and adjustment. I must take it in soon.

      I know the sign was made in the 1940s and 1950s and I'm wondering if in some small communities standardized spelling wasn't quite yet completely standardized. Who knows. I'm still amazed that it took me so long to see the misspelling.

      Delete
  10. Your story reminded me of my mother's cousin who set up shop at home as a hairdresser in the 1920's with signs outside the house proclaiming " bobbing, shingling and permanent waves". It had never occurred to me to feature it in this week's prompt, but it would have been a very good match for the theme - and a much older photograph than the ones I did show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yes, Sue, that sign would have been fabulous for this theme. Maybe you can use it some other time. I'd love to see it!

      Delete
  11. Your comments about misspelling reminds me of an ad we ran once for the California Egg Commission in French and misspelled eggs as ouefs. Turns out few people who read the ad knew French or were too polite to write or call. We received one letter saying it was a "horrible" gaffe. Still makes me slightly nauseated to remember it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose only the people who read French would have noticed. But then the misspelling on the sign in this post wasn't immediately obvious to me, so who knows.

      Delete
  12. I didn't notice the misspelling. It is confusing to have "jeweler" but leave out a letter in the American spelling and add a letter in the British spelling. Maybe the spelling was more flexible in the past.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Postcardy. I think I responded to one of the other comments something similar - about standardized not yet being quite standard in some small towns of the time. The spelling from England to the U.S. is sometimes unusual and confusing. I seem to want to spell some words the British way and the spell checker tells me I'm wrong.

      Delete
  13. An interesting post Nancy. It’s a shame you don’t still have the signs but at least you have these great photos!

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...