It’s About Time…

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Technology’s transformed us, changing how and what we do, from performing all sorts of tasks to communicating. Times have changed so drastically in the last  hundred years, it’s mind boggling! Smart phones have impacted our daily lives, with ‘apps” for everything; bringing on the disappearance of some everyday items (when’s the last time you saw an actual pay phone)?

I’m not anti-technology, but am sad to see some things vanish. Email has replaced hand-written letters. Wiry, corded phones weren’t as convenient, but we did have to actually stop and talk to callers, and they always worked when the electricity went out. Calendars are virtually non-existent, and when I’ve asked my Girl Scout troop to take meeting notes, they pull out their phones. Cursive’s a dinosaur. (I think how unique each person’s penmanship is. My grandmother’s handwriting was beautiful. My father’s is, too).

This hat box is filled with old letters, some from loved ones passed.

This hat box is filled with old letters, some from loved ones passed.

What I think I’ll miss most are clocks. Not everyone wears a watch, but chances are, everyone has a cell phone! How will that evolve with the new iWatch? I recently caught a glimpse of the news, featuring a 911 call released after a traffic accident. A gentleman performing CPR was in disbelief, when asking for someone to time him. Not one person in the crowd had on a watch! Many people don’t own an alarm clock or can even tell time without a digital display.

Once while teaching knitting, a seven-year old student was perplexed by the sound of the wall clock. She’d never noticed the tick-tock before. When asked if she could tell time, she answered, “I look at Mommy’s phone”.

Beautiful timepieces have long been a part of decor, and a big part of history. Think Big Ben or the clock at Grand Central Station. A lovely timepiece would harken a special event, or become a treasured family “member”. Recently, I was out with one of my friends when we decided to check a Goodwill store for antiques. There, behind locked glass, were two beautiful clocks.

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I loved the 1954 black enameled clock, and my friend the other. Made by Schatz, the clocks are called “400-Day Clocks” or “Anniversary Clocks”. They were meant to be wound only once a year with a brass key, marking a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary. Made in Germany from the 1880’s on, they were most popular in the 1950’s as wedding gifts, but known more for their beauty than their accuracy.  Missing paint and without keys, we figured even if the clocks didn’t work, they’d be pretty vintage decor.

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A true Anniversary clock doesn’t use electricity or batteries, but mechanics encased beneath a glass cloche. They must be perfectly balanced in order to run, and can be costly to repair. Setting must be done ever so gently. I got mine to run, but it took three nervous people and a borrowed key! We tiptoe past, and I hold my breath when vacuuming. With daylight savings time I’m afraid to set it again! Still, I find it’s spinning movement mesmerizing.

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Growing up, we had a wooden Schatz Cuckoo clock, a present to my parents from friends stationed in Germany. I remember the thrill of the little cuckoo alerting the hours, and I’d run to catch a glimpse before he’d disappear again. I remember the sound as Daddy would wind it each week. As an adult, hearing that cuckoo was a trip back in time.

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I’ve wished for a grandfather clock forever. My friend Andrea has one her grandfather bought second hand. Made in Germany in the 1920’s by Mauthe, it sat in her grandparents’ hallway for decades. The clock was referred to like a person. Andrea’s grandmother would say, “Grandfather is whispering”, whenever it chimed, and when in repair they’d say “Grandfather’s in the hospital”.  It sits in Andrea’s hallway now. The pendulum, made of wood, expands and contracts with the air moisture, which can cause the clock to run fast or slow depending on the season.

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For my birthday recently,  my husband bought me a Grandmother clock at a tag sale. (Grandfather clocks are over six feet tall. Over five feet but under six, it’s called a Grandmother). In a friend’s basement for years, we bought it for less than a nice dinner out! We cleaned it up and got it running, though we’ve yet to get it chiming. She’s a beauty, USA-made in the 1920’s.

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This is one of a few scenes on my clock. My favorite is the moon face.

The value of a vintage mechanical clock is in its movement; monetarily you’ll never get back what you put in. Experts are needed for cleaning and repair, and can be difficult to find. Vintage timepieces are temperamental; owning one is like owning a pet or having a living being in the house. Still, I think they’re a beautiful way to witness time fly.

Are you a clock lover? Do you still wear a watch? What other blasts from the past do you see disappearing? Leave me a comment and let me know ya stopped by!

Until next time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 30 Comments

  1. Good morning Nicole. Your post made me feel really mad at myself because ever since we finished building our house and moved in, I haven’t purchased a clock. I use my phone or the clock on the stove. I looked and looked for a clock that I loved and never found one. And now I realize that I have gotten used to using my phone (shame on me) and I need to get back on the search. I LOVE yours. They are gorgeous. I too miss a lot of things that have gone by the way-side with technology. And definitely receiving letters is one of the things I miss. I still make home-made cards and try to send a few every month because I think it is such a lost art. I’ve been teaching my grand-daughters to write letters as I think this generation has really lost that. Thanks for the reminder on the clock… gonna get on that search right away!

    – Dori –

    P.S. Are you thawing out yet? :-)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori! I love that you are teaching your granddaughters to write letters! That’s awesome! I have always made my daughter write thank you notes, and now I don’t “make her”, she enjoys the art herself. We just made homemade cards with our girl scout troop, too. Have you checked eBay for a clock? There’s some really cool ones there. I also have a cool large battery-powered clock with cherries on it in my kitchen. I got that from Ballard Designs years ago. And yes, we are finally thawing out! Yay! :) Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. I enjoyed your comments regarding clocks, unfortunately bringing to mind how many things of value are disappearing from our lives. As I was riding along with my husband the other day, it saddened us to think that most buildings, important to us have already disappeared; two schools I attended, the hospital where my children were born, my church and numerous others that held wonderful memories as we would pass by. Easily knocked down and replaced by malls or condominiums.
    Time passes, but I think too quickly now.
    I will always wear a watch, and think saving items from the past, even more important than it used to be. Enjoyed your blog and pictures of the clocks. I too have always wanted a Grandfather clock.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Janice, I agree. Too many good things are disappearing. I am trying to teach my daughter to value things and places with a past. So many places from my childhood are gone, too. I also find it sad how many museums lately have been closing and selling off their items to private collections. The Roy Rogers museum was one I read about recently. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Adrienne says:

    Oh indeed! I am a watch wearer and clock lover. I used to have a grandmother clock that chimed the Westminster cycle on the quarter hour and a wall clock which my brother bought from me that chimed “Ave Maria” on the hour. It’s made of three different kinds of wood and the entire front of the clock opens to wind it. I have a Timex for daily wear and a Seiko for dress wear. When I’m working out at the gym, however, I use the wall clock or the digital timers on the machines to measure my fitness regimen. My wrist perspires too much to wear anything other than a diving watch. Hmm. Maybe that will be the next watch I put in my gym bag.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Andrienne, I think my grandmother clock chimes the Westminster cycle, too, from what I remember reading about her. I can’t wait to hear her! And your Ave Maria clock sounds so beautiful! Love watches, too. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Barb Delaney says:

    Nice article Nicole. Yes, its all about time. I find it sad. As it seems people do not spend enough time with others in this fast paced world. Letters writing or just writing in general seems to be very personal and therapeutic. Well said and I cant wait to hear her chime. We should have a get together and celebrate when she does chime.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Barb! I miss you, and all my farmgirl sisters! I think the weather is finally good for us, now we can plan farmgirl get-togethers without having to cancel for weather. We will do a celebration when she chimes! Love that! Hope to see you soon! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Susabelle says:

    I work at a major university in Colorado. One of my student workers, a geek in the computer science program, actually wears a watch. I haven’t seen a young person with a watch in years. I asked him why he wears one, and he said it’s more convenient than digging his phone out of his pocket. This is a guy with technology on the brain, and he wears a regular, clock-faced watch (not digital). We have clocks all over our house, but only my husband wears a watch. We are in our 50’s.

    But, digital clocks are good for some things. My 21 year old daughter has a learning disability, and try as she might, she could never figure out how to read a faced clock. She tried, oh, she tried. Her teachers and we tried EVERYTHING. Now as an adult, she can stare at a faced clock for a long time, and finally get the time, but she can always read a digital clockface. So for her, having access to a digital clock is important. My younger daughter, just turned 13, can read a faced clock just fine.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susabelle, great story. I love the student’s answer! When I was a kid in the eighties, digital watches were the rage, too. Thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Joan says:

    Ahhh yes – CLOCKS!!! I am a lover of clocks and have one that is especially precious, it was on the clock shelf, at the North end of my Grandparents dinning room – all my life and every Sunday and Wednesday Grandpa wound it. It was like – ok Grandpa’s going to wind the clock now – we would all take the time to watch it happen. Now I do the same thing every week and my heart skips a beat with joy. Thank you for helping me to remember this. Now the other tickers around the house are battery run but I do love each and everyone of the 6 of them. Great message – thanks again. God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Joan! What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I’m so happy you enjoyed this post. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Nicole, this is very interesting. Beautiful clocks! I still wear my turquoise and sterling silver watch made by the Zuni Indians which I bought while still living in Texas at a store in Grapevine, TX.
    Also, my friend, Jackie, bought the Black Forest cuckoo clock as a gift for me when she lived in Germany.
    I do not like the idea of a phone watch. And you are right about cursive writing. I never could print well!
    Love you,
    Mother

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mom! I do not like the idea of a phone watch, either. And your mom’s handwriting was the most beautiful penmanship I ever saw! I also have saved every letter you have ever mailed me! Love you! Nicole

  8. Deb Bosworth says:

    Hi Nicole! Great post! I’m with you. I love clocks! My father had an old rail road pocket watch which was beautiful. I bet you won’t find too many young men or women carrying one of those anymore. I adore LARGE wall clocks. If I lived in a barn or a home with very high ceilings I would hang a collection of them! Your grandmother’s clock is beautiful. Here’s to your dream finally coming true of having one of your own! Enjoy and thanks for this fun blog! xo Deb~ ( hope you’re getting some sunshine now. We are, finally)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Deb! You are right, not many young people these days carry a pocket watch, but oh, they are soooo beautiful. I could totally see a wall of large wall clocks…very cool idea. We are finally getting some sun now! Woo Hoo! Let’s hope it stays that way! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. CJ Armstrong says:

    Thanks for your post, Nicole! Very thought provoking and I love all the pics. We do still have regular clocks in our house! I have a chiming, clock that belonged to my parents that you have to wind every day. I don’t keep it wound anymore because it doesn’t keep good time, but it hangs on the wall and I love to look at it.

    I DO still have a wristwatch with a regular face and I wear it went out and about and traveling. Not at home or at work however.

    We also DO still have two corded phones in our house along with our cordless phones and we are probably the only ones in the neighborhood that still have a house phone when the electricity goes off!

    And, the art of handwritten letters and cards being on the verge of extinction is of interest. I also DO still went notes, cards and letters and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE receiving them. So, I for one am trying to help keep some of our past treasures alive and well!
    Thanks again!
    HUGS and LOVE TO YOU!
    CJ

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi CJ! I bet your clock is beautiful! And I love handwritten notes and cards…and have a few from you! 😉 Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. susana says:

    I still war a watch….Timex has been my first choice as they only need a battery…..I hope I can always buy one. I’m wandering if they will end up in the discarded manufactured aisle. Since batteries are still around and if people still buy watches, I guess the stores will sell them if there’s a demand for them. I fear this loss!
    I still have an old ATT phone and I hear they are antiques or dinasaurs. But I still make use of it as a back up system, because they do still work. And I use it when my battery on my cell phone gives dead.its hard to get used to charging my cell phone!

    I envy your clock collection. But I see them as dust collectors. And I try to eliminate those. But I like show and tell. It sure is interesting. My mother had this one wind chime clock and I took it apart when I was four….it enticed me into taking other things apart….I guess because f that clock I became mchnically motivate….love to thinker because of it, which lead me down a new path of discovery. But I wouldn’t own such items like a Grandfather clock, but knew people who on such contraptions. The one person used to store his piggy bank insude his grandfather clock….the area where the gutts were .I don’t know why, but I guess he had his own reasons. I thought it was neat idea. But I only loved it when it would make its hourly noise! Interesting hobby!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susana, “TIMEX…takes a licking and keeps on ticking!” Remember those ads? My brother got a Timex in high school and it still runs. They actually have headquarters here in Connecticut. Keep your fingers crossed…I hope I get my clock chiming soon! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Vivian Monroe says:

    Nicole, Loved your blog today, I too have an anniversary clock, when my husband and I were dating, the first year he gave me a Jewelry catalog and said I could pick out anything I wanted for my birthday, I picked the anniversary clock, I just really liked the old look, still runs and sits on our mantle today 28 yrs later. Also, we have a grandfather clock that his grandfather actually made, and his mom gave to us. as for watches, I love them, and I love to wear a bunch of old ones like bracelets all together. And as for handwritten notes, my youngest son’s girlfriend who I hope one day to be my daughterinlaw, still sends cards, thank you notes, and they are always very sincere. I actually got her a little metal owl sealer and wax sticks to seal her envelopes, and I always get her lots of stamps for little extra holiday gifts. (I love getting my cards) I keep them all. Be Blessed. Neta

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Neta, How special your clock is! And the one your husband’s grandfather MADE? What a family treasure. And it sounds like you raised a great son to have picked such a lady for a sweetheart. She will be one lucky girl when she has you as a mother-in-law. Thanks for commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Nancy C says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Enjoyed your blog so much. I can’t wear a watch: body electricity causes it to run too fast, or stop and go: many various strange events. A locket watch (a gift from my grandmother) does the same things. My sister and I were each to get a mantle clock from my Grandmother’s estate and we both looked forward to it, so much. However, she had kept her house so warm that when they were picked up, they fell apart and the wood crumbled. Saw so many beautiful grandfather clocks when we were stationed in Germany, but went the cuckoo clock route. Gave many as gifts, but did not buy one for ourselves! When the one we got for my parents could no longer be repaired, my Father turned into a manager scene. That started me on my path of collecting manager scenes, but his is the most unique.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Nancy, Oh I love that idea…turning the clock into a manger scene! I bet that it is just beautiful! Great stories…thanks for sharing! So sad about your sister’s clock, though. Farmgirl Hugs

  13. Rose says:

    Nice Blog!
    I love old clocks and watches! I refuse to have all digital displays of time on the newer alarm clocks. I miss my grandfather clock from my former house. After reading your blog, I decided to get another one, maybe an antique, as a welcome addition to my new home.
    Rose

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rose, I am so glad you enjoyed the blog, and that you’re inspired to get a grandfather clock! Please keep me posted on what you find! Happy hunting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Sheila says:

    How lovely to find so many people who value timepieces. Whenever I find or am given a watch or clock, I always make sure it is working and, if not, try to find someone with the skill to repair or clean it. I recently received a 1930’s Mission Style mantle clock made by a New Haven clock maker. It was quite beautiful but had a broken mainspring. I found a clock repairman and now my Mission clock is waiting for tender, loving care. Good things are worth the wait. Thanks for posting your insights. As a fellow Connecticut resident from “The Quiet Corner”, I can relate to your posts (especially about our endless winter).

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sheila, I bet that clock of yours is really beautiful! What a find! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and hope you keep reading! Thanks for stopping by! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Peggy York says:

    I still wear a watch and feel undressed when I go out without it. When my parents visited us when we were in Italy, they purchased a grandfather clock. Now both are no longer with us and I inherited the clock. I think of them every time it chimes. Thanks for sharing your love of clocks.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Peggy, I feel the same way…I just don’t feel right without a watch. How wonderful that you have such a special clock with such precious memories attached. Lovely. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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