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Clock Repair Winding Down

Posted by on Jan 6th, 2011 and filed under Viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Since any given new year inevitably brings about discussion of the passage of time, I want to bring up a frustration that’s been tick, tick, ticking for, well, some time now. Namely, I can’t seem to find someone to repair a clock.

The clock in question is a somewhat large, “grandmother” clock that used to belong to – oddly enough – my grandmother.

A grandmother clock is not as tall or massive as the traditional grandfather clock, but it does sit on the floor and takes up quite a bit of vertical wall space. A small child or pet could easily hide in the thing. Come to think of it, maybe that’s where little Pookey disappea … never mind.

When I first inherited the heavy, furniture-like timepiece well over two decades ago, it worked just fine. Its long pendulum would swing lazily to and fro, keeping decent enough time. Every quarter hour, the clock’s triple chimes would ring out, culminating with the count off of the time at the beginning of every hour. The chimes could be heard in every room of our house. Some nights their timely count-off was a welcoming invitation to sleep – other nights, a noisy interference. To wind the big clock, you pull the chains that raise up two polished brass counterweights (one for the pendulum, one for the chimes) hanging behind the cabinet’s glass door.

The steady tick tock and sounding of the chimes, plus the stately appearance of the beautiful wood cabinetry, lent a nostalgic air of Old World elegance to our living room. (Then again, in my 20s I thought my wall tapestry hanging of a purple unicorn and wizard’s castle did the same thing, so I’m probably not the best arbiter of decorating tips.)

Several years ago the clock stopped working and I started looking for a clock repair person to fix it. Easier said than done. Where have they all gone? I can remember driving by at least three or four along Foothill Boulevard alone. I’d take a wristwatch in for cleaning or to have a battery replaced every so often. These clock craftsmen always had an impressive collection of timepieces of every shape and size in their store – in various states of function or disrepair.

Now that I need a repairman, however, they all seem to have disappeared. Every watch/clock repair listing I’ve called from the yellow pages or found online will not repair such a large clock when I tell them what I have. They only want to work on clocks that will fit on a shelf or a wrist. That’s definitely not this thing.

Before I got smart and started calling first, I was foolish enough to load the grandmother clock into my pickup truck and take it to one of the places where I’ve taken family wristwatches before.

After I staggered through the door, lugging a two-wheeled dolly with the clock carefully cocooned in moving blankets, the ensuing conversation
went something like, “We haven’t seen one of those in years. That’s a beauty! But we don’t work on them here in the shop. Someone will have to come out to your house to work on it.”

“But,” I quickly replied, “it’s here now! Can’t somebody work on it since it’s already in your shop?”

“Sorry, that’s the kind of repair that has to be done at your home.”

“Okay, if that’s the way it works,” I said. “So let me make an appointment with your repairman to come to my house.”

“Sorry. We don’t have anyone who does that sort of thing any longer!”

And now we know where laid off DMV employees went for a career change.

Until I find someone to fix this thing, we at least have a beautiful, albeit horizontally challenged, piece of furniture on one wall of our living room. I’ll keep searching and hopefully, on some future night, those chimes will keep me awake once more.

I’ll see you ‘round town.

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