Looking through some old family papers the other day, I came across a business receipt: THE CLOCK SHOP (W.H Heald) ANTIQUE TIME PIECES—GRANDFATHER, BANJO, SHELF, ETC. Also MODERN CLOCKS OF ALL MAKES Repairing in all its branches SOUTH WEYMOUTH, MASS.
By all accounts, William Hersey Heald was my great-great grandfather’s nephew. Born in Sandwich in 1857, he had moved to South Weymouth by 1900. I can’t account for his movements after that, though he resurfaces in the 1930 census, aged 73, a boarder. By that time, his wife had either died or flown the coop. I vaguely recall that his name was mentioned when I was a child—“Uncle Will,” if I’m not mistaken. Possibly an oddball. Maybe even a nutcase.
But I’m delighted to know that clocks are in my genes.
The Seth Thomas “Parma” over on my study bureau. The contemporary Robert Newton Curly Maple Tall Clock in our entryway. The French Carriage Clock I inherited from my mother. The Chelsea “Ship’s Bell” Clock that belonged to Sukie’s father. The Chelsea “Boston” Shipstrike that Sukie and I bought in 1987 as a wedding gift for ourselves. The Seth Thomas Schoolhouse Clock that hung in the Stetson Shoe Company in South Weymouth one hundred or more years ago and now hangs in our living room, a clock that Uncle Will undoubtedly knew. The several pocket watches belonging to my various forebears in my desk drawer.
I can’t get enough clocks. I say to Sukie, “I need another clock.” She responds, “No you don’t; we’ll all be driven mad by the striking,” she says. And on it goes.
And just now the Parma strikes five o’clock. I’m mesmerized by the tic-tock, the rhythm, the haunting sense that this same clock ticked and struck back in the day, heard by ancestors long since gone.
Ah, yes, and then there’s my iPhone Grandfather Clock app...