Marking Time Again

The clockmaker, Daryl, called to say my granddaddy’s clock was ready. We were pleasantly surprised that he checked and cleaned it in only nine days, which included letting it run several days in his home. I loved listening to him talk, because his speech was even and measured, much like the clocks he repairs. He took time to explain what he had done, included an anecdote about an old factory clock to which 10 others were linked, and reassured me that I couldn’t overwind my treasure. He showed us he was leaving his card inside the case with a list of the things he had done. We liked that, since we had a faded bill from the last repair done in 1996. He repaired a hinge that had been broken years ago and said he did not polish the brass ring around the glass. He felt such an old clock needed to look its age. I liked his thinking. Bet I could depend on him to agree I should not restore my gray hair to brown, so I’d continue to look my age.

071615 Grandfather's Clock Daryl Bridges JC N

We were surprised to get a postscript. Several hours after he left, Daryl called to add one more comment. He said, “You should stop the pendulum gently when you wind the clock, and restart it carefully.”

We had never heard that before. As you wind, there is pressure on the gear, then no pressure. If you catch it at the wrong place, it could bend teeth. That would have been most appropriate for my dad and granddad to know, since they were dentists. They would not have wanted to bend any teeth the wrong way!

I listened to the gentle tick tock and felt I had witnessed a resurrection. The dead clock was alive again, marking time with a steady beat.

My Grandfather’s Clock

Son $ saw a business card for clock repair at Haywood Smokehouse (where we love the BBQ). John called the number listed for Daryl Bridges, and the man came today. As he stepped through the door, John told him, “This wall clock was hanging in the dental office of Anne’s father and grandfather, so it’s an old one. We immobilized the pendulum, but it wouldn’t work after we moved.”

Daryl looked at it on the wall, gave the pendulum a slight nudge, and waited to see what would happen. He opened his small box that looked like a tackle box and picked out a round gizmo. Having given us permission to watch, I dared to ask, “Is that a stethoscope for a clock?”

“No,” he said. “It’s an amplifier.” He stuck the probe into the winding hole, tapped the pendulum, and listened. It would tick one way but not the other.

“Do you mind if I take it off the wall?” he asked.

Of course, we wanted him to fix it, so we said yes. He approached it reverently, lifted it off the wall, and 070715 B HC Daryl Bridgeslaid it gently on the table. Inside he found the invoice with a list of the things that had been repaired in 1982. He could read the name Garstang, and I remembered that was the name of the clockmaker. He couldn’t reach the top of the pendulum through the door. We gave permission for him to remove the hands and clock face. Peering with a flashlight, he discovered the pendulum had slipped and was not hanging correctly.

070715 Inside my grandfather's clock

Daryl said he liked knowing the stories about old clocks, and I supplied a brief history. My granddad had an 8th grade education and worked as a tinsmith. He went to Vanderbilt in Nashville and told the dean that he was there to become a dentist.

The dean said, “You can’t do that.”

Granddaddy said, “I have to. I’ve sold my part of the business.”

After much discussion, the dean finally said, “You can start classes, but one wrong step, and you’re out.”

This clock hung in the lab of Granddaddy’s office, covered in dust from the plaster of Paris dentists used back then. My dad had it cleaned and refinished when he moved his office to a ground floor storefront.

Daryl pointed to oil on some pieces of the works and recommended a good cleaning. It may take a month or two, because he has several jobs ahead of ours. The poor old clock has hung motionless on our wall for eleven months. One more month is nothing. It will be great to have it back. I wonder if it will still say “Tock Tick” instead of “Tick Tock” as my mother insisted it did. After Dad’s retirement, it hung on the wall of their bedroom. That’s where the clock had a new purpose, helping Dad set his hearing aids correctly before going out. It was still ticking steadily when we went there for his funeral.