It’s Father’s Day, and a corner of my living room is filled with boxes. They contain treasures from an unlikely antique collector, my dad. He loved to tinker. We had a sailboat for the weekends, and our crowded garage housed his sometimes-running classic car. When I was a girl he discovered clocks and the excitement of auctions.
I smile to think of my reserved, book-loving dad–by day an aerospace engineer–caught up in the drama of bidding. He had limits: $25 for a table or wall clock, $125 for a grandfather. But for something special he would go higher. A little. He was, after all, an engineer.
Dad’s been gone twenty-five years. Mom recently downsized to an assisted living apartment, so not every clock could come along. Benjamin Bell, one of the prizes of Dad’s collection, came to me.
There are benefits to having a son named Benjamin! Then too, my brother has the moon-face grandfather clock (just visible in the top photo). Growing up, I thought every family should have at least three. We did.
The purchase date (1969) was carefully recorded in my dad’s notebook, price $210. How he would smile to see his clock–a Father’s Day gift to me–here in my house.
The clockmaker’s name is inscribed on the face, as is customary. In 1761 he was listed as being twenty-four years old. Time for more smiling. Could Mr. Bell of Uttoxeter be an almost-contemporary of Jane Austen’s?
Best of all, 250 years later this clock still works. Okay, so sometimes the hands get hung up, but Mom says it keeps perfect time. The strike, however, is anything but elegant. A hammer crisply strikes an iron coil–clang!
So “Benny Bell” now lives in Oregon, and drama is afoot. This afternoon we will remove the works from their box, set them in the case, and place the hood. And the photo shows the problem.
Is our c. 1980 “energy-saver” ceiling tall enough? The tape measure says maybe. By, like, a half-inch. Here’s hoping!
Happy Father’s Day!
UPDATE: It fits!! With not even two inches to spare!
And to think I almost gave up on having this clock because I thought it wouldn’t.