By Mike Hudson
I stared up at the silent giant, standing twice as tall as me – polished wood, crystal-clear glass, full of brass gears and weights that seemed like gold to my young eyes. I was waiting for the top of the hour, when this sleeping giant, quiet other than the steady tick of its heartbeat, would come to life and fill the house with a cacophony of chimes and bells before returning again to its dormant state.
My fascination with grandfather clocks began at an early age. Once a month, regular as clockwork (pun intended), we would visit my grandfather’s house. These visits were almost ritualistic in nature. We would always arrive at about 11 a.m. My father and grandfather would spend time talking about Formula 1 racing, the current political issues and the latest records that my grandfather had bought. Grandfather was a stereo junkie and always seemed to have some new device every time we visited.
My brother and I had our own routine: A one-mile walk to the store with a few shillings (yes, this was back in England, long before “new pence” and the Euro) in our pockets for sweets, walking my grandmother’s dog, and with instructions to buy a block of ice cream for dessert. Of course, we had to run to get back before it melted.
Dinner was always midday on those Sundays and we had high tea in the early evening before being bundled into the back of the car to sleep on the journey home.
The highlight of the day for me was the visit to the neighbor’s house. The first visit was with my grandmother to deliver some flowers to Mrs. Wilson and it was then that I met this giant. I was totally fascinated by it; my grandmother eventually had to drag me away. The image of this wood and glass sentinel filled my head until the next visit.
Each visit after that, I would make an excuse to go next door. My grandmother would check her watch (inevitably it was five minutes or so before the top of the hour), smile and nod her approval. When Mrs. Wilson answered my knock on her door, she would check her watch, smile and invite me in, knowing exactly why I was there. After watching her clock perform its hourly duties, I would return, happy, to grandmother’s house.
In Our Store: Glen D. Huey’s “Building 18th-century American Furniture” (which includes the Clock shown above).
From the June 2013 issue #204
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