FTIAT: The Clock
Like many things, memory of how Georgette (Georgette Sullins’s blog) and I crossed blogging paths is lost to me. However it happened, I’m grateful it did.
Apart from having a fascinating–and, luckily for us, documented!–personal history with space expoloration and current life full of teaching-related adventures (yes, those are possible!), she’s a thoughtful, supportive commenter. Knowing she’s out there ready to share such comments has been and will hopefully continue to be a huge part of my comfort publishing sensitive entries.
Recommended post: “Guess what?” II
The key never moved. It’s amazing to me how in a house of four kids and two busy parents the key was never lost, misplaced or mysteriously disappeared during our weekly routine or the moves to different states. Usually the key lay on the mantel under the clock or was carefully placed inside the back door of the inner workings. Thankfully this assured our household that time would march on and the strains of Westminster, Whittington or St. Michel would continue to maintain the rhythm of our household.
The key belonged to a mantel clock that my father kept wound from Sunday to Sunday for many years. It was an eight-day clock. We grew accustomed to hearing the chimes at the quarter, half hour and on the hour for many years. We knew it was the start of another week when Daddy would crank the three mechanisms: one to wind the hour, the other to wind the minute hands, and one to keep the chimes ringing.
It was my gift to him and my mother after they arranged to send me to Spain for a summer. The trip was a dream come true for me and I wanted to thank them in the most special way that I could. I reserved some money for a very special purchase. Since I was in Europe, I planned to find something very practical, and something that would remind my dad of having lived with his family in the Dutch embassy. Daddy had told us of the clock his father would wind up once a week, and the chimes that would ring throughout his house. I told my aunt and uncle of my intentions and so in the city of Sevilla we looked through the stands at the Jueves (the flea market), the shops on and around Calle Sierpes (the shopping district), and around the Barrio de Santa Cruz. All the vendors asked right away, “¿Cuál timbre?”, “Which chime?” Their question confused me and made me second guess my decision to look for the clock, because I hadn’t given any thought to which chime I wanted it to play. I asked my uncle, “What chime did Papi’s clock (his father and my grandfather) play when they were children?” “I think it was Westminster,” he answered.
So we searched for a clock that would chime Westminster. Although I was in Spain, we found the chime but the prices were exorbitant for me. Then, one day my aunt told me she had spotted one at just the right price. We went with cash in hand and bought it on the spot before it could be sold to someone else. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out the clock could be set to three different chimes. Surely, one of those chimes would be the right one.
At the end of my summer stay, my uncle boxed it up carefully for the trip back home. He tied a rope around the box so I could carry it more easily on the plane. He even punched holes through the box so the customs officials could tell it was a clock and it wouldn’t need to be opened. “Guess what?” I said to my parents as they looked at the box when they met me at the airport. “We found it in Sevilla and it chimes!”
I couldn’t wait to get home to find a place for it. At the time we lived in Florida so there was no fireplace mantel. For a time it rested on the top of the television. Later, when we moved to a colder climate, it found its proper place on the mantel. The tradition continued for weeks and years. Daddy thanked me by taking pleasure in winding the clock every Sunday night. During the week we were not disappointed. The chime played clearly and predictably. However, we had to laugh over the weekend because by Saturday and Sunday the sound of the chimes had slowed down, sounding tired, in need of their weekly cranking by the key.
Side note: Before the clock ever entered our house, I had learned a song at church. The lyrics were sung to the melody of Westminster chimes, “Oh Lord our God, Thy children call, Grant us Thy peace, And bless us all.” With or without the key, with or without the clock, I used to sing it to myself. It has become a spontaneous prayer when I’m reminded of the familiar melody.
Used with permission. Georgette Sullins and Georgette Sullins’s Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Georgette Sullins and Georgette Sullins’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.