I grew up a mill town along the Ohio River, and we learned at an early age to “tell time” by whatever was happening. The coal train crossing the railroad bridge, the boat horn passing the buoy in the channel, the dam operator’s signals about whether the locks were filling or getting lowered.
The mill whistle sounded every afternoon at 4:30. If we were out somewhere playing in the neighborhood, and Mom had said to be back at the house by the whistle, we knew we had to start running home.
The house I grew up in was very old. It was built in the days before electricity, and the wiring which came after was questionable.
The bedroom I shared with my sister had one outlet, over by the doorway. The alarm clock and a lamp were set on the dresser, and were plugged into that outlet. I learned to read by flashlight if I wanted the brightness to shine on the page.
On school days, the alarm clock was set, and the sister on the bottom bunk had to be the one to get out of bed to turn it off. It was years before Dad allowed us to have an extension cord snake under the bed to put the clock on the nightstand within reach.
It was a clock I took for granted. The whole front was a soft orange light, and the arms and hands circled the face 60 seconds every minute.
Being a child who needed eyeglasses very soon in life, I have always liked my clock to have arms so I could at least see where the hands were going. Digital clocks have to be read as numbers, and a 3 and an 8 look very much alike for nearsighted blurriness.
The last few weeks, I have found myself longing for that old clock. Or at least a clock like it. I have been without my favorite kind of clock on the nightstand for months.
When the oldest son became school-age, 21 years ago, Husband went out and found me the model of clock I like. The whole face lighted up, with hands and numbers, and a snooze button on the top. He attached it to a nice wooden base so that toddler hands nor cat’s paws would not be able to knock it over.
I loved that clock. It was exactly like the one I’d had all those years ago to use for my own school days.
Last summer, my clock died. The hands just stopped going ‘round, even though the light still had a faint glow.
Husband looked and looked for another like it.
New clocks have a circle of dots which light up, not the whole face. They run on batteries. They TICK with a most irritating noise like a plastic toothbrush bumping a glass cupboard door.
No way do I want a clock fussing next to my head all night long.
He found a clock of the same brand on e-bay, and ordered it. He took parts from both clocks and fixed together a working clock! just in time for New Year’s!
Alas, it too died a few weeks ago.
Age is creeping up on all of us.
For awhile now, again I find myself telling time by what is happening in the community. The airplane leaving for Disney World flies overhead at 5:50 every morning. The AMTRAK train’s horn when it is coming into the station at 7:40.
Although this college town doesn’t seem to be as aware of daily schedule importance as the steel mill’s shift changes. Recently, a clock with hourly chimes has been installed on the bookstore building. It is nice touch while walking the Quad, but I can’t hear it from my house.
Meanwhile, my husband says I’ll have to quit complaining about him wearing his watch to bed because there have come a few times when I grab his wrist and turn it around so I can see what time it is. I hardly ever wear my own watch inside the house.
I’ve looked all over the Internet for an old-fashioned clock with newer working standards.
One of my classmates even suggested going to a site where items are sold for use by people with special needs (such as being blind). Over there, the stuff is way over-priced.
I did find one which might be within my expectations. Over 30 bucks is too much, especially when one that looks almost like it is at TARGET for $7.
I mean, it’s a great alarm clock, but I am just being old and set in my ways and need to give myself space to talk to myself about the new world coming.
~~love and Huggs, Diane