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A clock story

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By Christine Tailer
HCP columnist

We have so many mechanical clocks ticking away in our home that we thought it best to come up with a hard and fast rule. We promised each other that we would not add any more clocks to our collection unless it happened to be a unique clock that we did not already have. 

Our plan worked fairly well, until we came across a gravity clock, then a water clock, followed by a night watchman’s clock that we allowed ourselves to bring home, but we were still proud of our resolution as we passed by many other homeless clocks, that no matter how lovely the clock, or how reasonable the price, we left behind.

Then one day on a road trip, we saw a hand-painted “antiques” sign inviting us to turn off the highway and head a few miles through the countryside. We couldn’t resist, and soon found ourselves following more signs, through multiple turns, until we finally arrived at an old two-story schoolhouse in the middle of a cornfield. Who knew what might lie within. We excitedly climbed the front steps and entered.

We leisurely wandered the packed isles in the many rooms, commenting on, yet passing by, all the wonderful old treasures. I did, however, find a beautiful glass paperweight that I decided I could not leave behind. It was, after all, just a large marble with a flat bottom.

Then we noticed a young woman hurriedly entering the room where we were. She was carrying a large cardboard box that seemed heavy and was about ready to burst at its seams. She hastily set it down on the floor, on the verge of dropping it. I could clearly see that it was chocked full of cuckoo clock parts. She stood up, wiping her hands on the side of her jeans.

“What have you got there?” I inquired, as I peered into the box.

“A box of parts I just picked up an estate sale,” she breathlessly responded.

I bent down for a closer look and I could see several clock houses, a bunch of gears, perhaps three sets of internal works, and many assorted pinecone weights, but most intriguing of all, were the scattered wooden people. Some were missing an arm, others had lost their colorful paint, but they all looked up at me, begging to be taken home.

“If you are interested, I’ll sell you the whole box for $25.” How could I say no? Greg smiled, and we brought the box, and all of its assorted contents, back home with us to the creek.

Several days passed before we could go through the box and its contents, but then, much to our surprise, we found the complete parts to three separate cuckoo clocks, not that we needed any more. We already had four other cuckoos, happily ticking and singing their way through our lives, but Greg could not resist, and within a few hours had both of the two smaller, one day clocks, cleaned and running. The third clock was not going to be so easy.

Its house was large, well over the size of three stacked shoe boxes. The tree large weights that hung below the house would operate not only the cuckoo bird and bellows, but a music box, a man sawing wood, dancing figurines, a four-piece band, and a water wheel, but there was clearly a lot of damage. Not only were the figures in sorry shape, but the roof was missing shingles and some of its gingerbread, and the front fence and roof to the waterwheel house were completely missing. Greg and I looked at each other.

“I can repair the figures and the house,” I said.

“And I can repair the works,” smiled my dear husband. I knew his task would not be easy with all the many different moving parts. This was clearly a cuckoo clock the likes of which we did not already have.

Our renovation project lasted many weeks. I fabricated the missing wood out of balsa and popsicle sticks. I repaired the figures, and then, when all the external house parts were finally together, I stained the new wood to match the original, and painted everything in fine detail, even adding waves to the water that flowed under the water wheel. Greg meanwhile cleaned and put back together the many pieces of the internal works, and then, when it was all completed, both inside and out, we secured the works inside the house, a marriage of both of our restoration projects.

I call the clock The Village. Its 14 inhabitants happily dance, saw wood, and play music in their band, and whenever I hear them or pass by, I can’t help but smile to think of them as a reflection of our lives. I do love to dance, and Greg, as you know enjoys tinkering, both big and small. Life certainly is good in creek valley.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at 

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