Time to Tell About Telling Time

Clocks. A few people are obsessed with them and/or maybe even collect them, especially antiques, but for the majority of us I’m guessing that we don’t think much consciously about them. I mean, they are obviously used every day, as our lives tend to be dictated by time and schedules. So much so, that sometimes we try to escape both and likely wish that clocks did not exist. I know that the older I am getting, the less I try to live my life dictated by time, but it is something that I am always reminded of nonetheless—when I look in the mirror, when I can’t keep up in flipping the calendar pages, when the sun’s position in the sky changes, when the seasons show themselves, when I see my parents aging, etc. Even though I no longer wear a watch in the hopes of evading its grasp, time does not stand still. Regardless of what’s going on in one’s life, the world around us keeps ‘ticking’ along, whether we want it to or not. It always has and it always will, even when we are no longer around. The funny thing is that as I sit here, I can suddenly recount the various clocks that we owned while I was growing up, as well as some more recent experiences with them. If you have time;-), I think I’ll share a few, which maybe you can relate to.

On a lighter note, my first memory of a clock was learning how to tell time in school. I believe that I was in grade two and I remember my dad helping me practice what the big and little hands meant on the good ol’ analog clocks (which happen to be going by the way side these days in lieu of all things digital). Figuring out the hands was confusing to me then, and I wasn’t sure why I had to learn it, but that is the beauty of childhood, isn’t it? Even though time is all around us, as little ones we don’t really stop and take notice of it in the same way that it does of us as we age. I also remember the silly old cuckoo clock that we had in our basement—a good place for it by the way, as it would literally drive you cuckoo listening to it when it actually worked like it was supposed to. That darned thing seemed to only go ‘cuckoo’ when it felt like it. I don’t think that it was dictated by time at all, which is kind of ironic. No wonder they called it a cuckoo clock. Then, there was the mantle clock which the three of us kids saved up for and bought as either an anniversary or Christmas present for my parents—can’t remember which. We were proud of our purchase, though had we have known how noisy it would end up being (chiming as many times as the hours it was and dinging once at every half hour), we might not have opted for the same gift. Eventually, we all got used to its regular sounds, unlike our basement cuckoo clock, but any company that we had over did not! Some of our childhood friends during sleepovers, etc. admitted that the clock drove them absolutely nuts, and they couldn’t understand how we listened to it all day, every day. Funny, isn’t it?! The minuscule things that grate on our nerves, even as children. To each their own, I guess or ‘Chacun son gout’, as the French would say. In later years, my family invested in a fancy grandfather clock to adorn the living room area. My parents had always wanted one, and we thought the inner workings of it were pretty cool. It was a more extravagant purchase for them, one they normally wouldn’t have made, but I guess they decided that it was ‘time’ to indulge. I can’t remember a whole lot about it or how well it worked, but it still sits ornamentally in the corner of my parents’ living room to this very day.

More recently, at our resort in Cuba, we came across an old-fashioned sundial clock that sat on the property. We seem to recall taking of a picture of it, but somehow along the way we deleted it. It’s interesting to try to picture life for people back when that was the only kind of clock that existed. I wonder how it influenced their day-to-day life. Not in the same way as us, that’s for sure! During our Hawaiian vacation a couple of weeks ago, we visited a coffee plantation which had a tower clock on top, of which I have pictured below. Those are kinda cool, too. What’s really neat, however, is that inside the building, they had the mechanism which ran the clock on display for all to see (also pictured). Upon first glance, we thought the clock mechanism was some kind of antique coffee grinding machine which I knew instantly my dad would want to see, but it wasn’t until we looked at the plaque outside the glass partition when we realized that it had nothing to do with coffee at all. Oops! According to the write-up, the E. Howard Clock, made in 1872, was originally housed in Ontario, Canada. Then, in 2008, it was restored by the American Tower Clock Company in Rochester, NY and brought over to the Big Island. Now, I personally don’t have a whole lot of interest in antique things, but even I can appreciate their existence. You have to admit that it’s fascinating to think of how things have evolved over ‘time’, and the purpose they served and/or the ‘marker’ in history they’ve made.

To ‘wind-up’ this post (pun intended), and to revisit my ideas stated at the beginning wherein I spoke of time dictating our schedules, I do have one other quick story to share. One day at work, I headed to the lunchroom as usual. Of course, because it was a day on the job and clocks are of the essence, I glanced up to see how much time I had to gobble down my lunch, as I’m sure some of you can also relate. As it turns out, something was wrong with the clock which wasn’t at all a surprise, but what was surprising was that the hands on it were literally moving at mach speed…’round and ‘round they went. Usually when analog clocks go wonky, they slow right down or simply stop, but that clock appeared to be moving full speed ahead. After chuckling out loud, I couldn’t resist saying, “Boy, look at the time fly. Yay, pretty soon, we will be able to go home.” Unfortunately, as you might guess, we weren’t allowed to leave the premises at the end of the few minutes that it took for it to reach our designated home time which was really hours later, but it was worth a shot in thinking so. By the next day, that crazy clock was fixed. Too bad!  Having said that, however, I have learned in my decades of life experience to be careful to never wish time away. After all, life is pretty darn short in the overall scheme of things.



2 thoughts on “Time to Tell About Telling Time

  1. I learned to tell time with that wonderful little Golden Book with the face of the clock on the front and little black metal hands that you could move around to tell time. I used to collect Little Golden books and am so happy to have that one with the metal hands still intact.
    It sounds so strange to tell someone younger that the time is ‘quarter to 5’ or so; they look a little stunned until I correct myself and say “4:45.” They will never know the joys of learning to tell the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember those wonderful little books. Lucky of you to still own it. And, you are right! Telling time via the way we learned is fast becoming a thing of the past. History in the making, so to speak.


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