Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Monday, November 24, 2014


Natrional Watch and Clock Museum
When we last set our clocks back, NPR did an interview with the curator of the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania.  The gist of the feature was how did they manage to set all their clocks, who did it, and how long did it take?  While I never learned the answer to those questions, I did find the concept interesting enough to reflect on clocks in my home and life, as well as to do a little research into the National Watch and Clock Museum, its counterpart, the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Ct. and the demised Clock Museum in Rockford, IL.

I also learned a new word: horology, the study of clocks and timepieces.

In a previous Post I covered the process of Daylight Savings, its history and arguments pro and con.  I also covered how I had been celebrating DST even after I retired from the corporate world.  The highlight of my celebration came about three years before I retired from WellPoint when my staff, numbering then about 16, surprised me by decorating my cubicle the Monday after the change, with posters, banners, celebratory cards and such.  Pictures from that day are still among my favorites.

I noticed this year that in another feature, Scott Simon was suggesting worthwhile things to do with the extra hour we gained.  That was also my pattern when I celebrated the occasion.  It was easier to suggest the Fall back, but the Spring forward gave an opportunity to give up all your bad habits in the one minute before you lost the hour.

I did an inventory of the timepieces I have in my house:  thirty-seven, counting both cars and the cordless telephones.  Some of these are quite interesting.  Others are more mundane.

The five bedroom alarm clocks would fall into that latter concept with one exception: the Bose that was a Christmas present from Leonard Shaffer to the Officers of WellPoint.  It has a gradually increasing radio wakeup and dual alarms, both features Mary and I have come to appreciate.

The four computers, the iPad and the two cell phones all have time functions but since they require no maintenance, I rarely use them for tracking time.  Similarly, the three TVs use as clocks is generally discounted.

 I have two mantel clocks that are my favorite, for different reasons.  One sits on a shelf of my wall unit and keeps remarkably accurate time, considering it is likely more than two-hundred years old.  I inherited it from my Mother, when she and my father moved from Iowa to California.  They in turn, inherited it from my grandmother shortly after they married in 1927  It once fell from a mantel and was declared terminal, until I got the works operational and a Navy friend repaired the casing.  About fifteen years ago I made friends with a retired clock man, who I met in a theater production.  Michael is now in his mid-nineties and as recently as a few months ago, while reminding me that he has built 12 grandfather clocks, was able to get one of my clocks working correctly again. 

That would be a clock I inherited from my mother and gifted to my younger son. So he could learn to tell Ship’s time.  It rings bells from 1 to 8 for the Watch Shifts every four hours.  I have another Ship’s Clock in my study and find it’s sound comforting if I wake in the night.  The mantle clock mentioned above chimes the Westminster chimes every fifteen minutes, a sound I tune out unless I am listening for it.  I wind it once a week and it rarely needs setting.

I have another mantel clock that has a world time function.  That comes in handy when we are following Wimbledon.  It and several others are electric.  When IO was commuting the 100+ miles for WellPoint, I had a residence in Westlake Village and missed my Westminster chimes so much that Mary bought a battery clock for the condo.  Tim now has that clock too, as it was sitting in our guest room and never had the chime turned on.

I also have a functioning gold-filled Gruen pocket watch on display.  Since it needs winding daily, I no longer set it, but I did today and find that, while it still runs, it loses about ten minutes an hour.  I think it must have belonged to my grandfather since its inscription is to the employees of a Stock firm in 1923.  I have another pocket watch in a safe deposit box from another grandfather who worked the railroad.  I have another mantel clock also in my loft.  It was made electric and doesn’t make an interesting noise so it is of little interest.

The only other clock I have is a wall clock I got for Mary for when she doing laundry.  It is in the garage with the washing machine and dryer.

As time marches on, I’ll end this here with the truism that even a stopped watch is correct twice a day.

In my next Post I will reflect on the recent death of mike Nichols, who Mary and I felt was a friend even though we never met him.  I hope you will join me.

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