Remember to set your clocks ahead one hour tonight for daylight saving time before you crawl into bed. Yeah, it’s a pain, but what if you owned a clock store?
“You let your husband do it,” joked Karen Barrett of City Bank Antiques in Kent, which stocks a couple hundred clocks. “Going forward isn’t so bad because you only advance them an hour. The fall is much worse.”
Even when it isn’t time to move the hands forward, Barrett’s husband, Don, keeps busy attending to the timepieces in the couple’s shop. That’s because none of them uses batteries or electricity to operate, so there’s a lot of winding and weight-pulling. Most cuckoo clocks, for instance, have to be wound about every 30 hours. Other clocks can go for a week.
With the timepieces at home, the store and the office where he works as an investment adviser, it takes Don about an hour a week to do the job (occasionally with the help of grandson Julian). About a dozen of the most noticeable in the store are set on or near the correct time, though he avoids having them all strike together.
If that happened, Karen joked, it could be deafening. Even so, people often wander into the shop around noon to listen to the enchanting chimes.
The shop’s vast collection of wrist and pocket watches, none of which are solid gold, are not wound each day, though they are attended to periodically so that the movements are kept in good working order.
Full of history
Don’s eyes light up when he chats about his time treasures, a hobby since he was a kid. He’s an expert at how they tick. His wife, who used to be a librarian, is a whiz at the history.
During a recent visit, the two gave a fascinating lesson.
The American Railroad pocket watch was very important to timekeeping in our country. And Webb C. Ball, of Cleveland, credited for standardizing timekeeping, was considered the railroad watch inspector.
“He was in charge of making sure all the railroads had very accurate timekeepers, both people who were on the train and inside the railroad depots,” Don said. “Back in the day, there was only one single-track railroad so you had to have a train pull off so another one could pass. If their watches were off by 10 minutes,” trains could collide.
Ball had the Hamilton Watch Company make the watches, which literally display his stamp of approval.
Today, jewelry stores are filled with wristwatches for men, which wasn’t always the case.
“Before World War I, the wristwatch was worn by men in Europe, but [U.S.] soldiers and the general consensus was that it was too feminine for men,” explained Karen. “As a result, our country never got quite on board quickly enough to catch up with Europe in wristwatch timekeeping. But when they wanted to know about the pocket watch, they came to America to look at what we had.”
Time will tell
For those who don’t have so many clocks, like Juanita Weaver of Tallmadge, the ones in the house aren’t a problem to turn ahead an hour, but resetting the time in the car is another issue.
“I get to our Dodge truck and every single freakin’ time I have to get out the owners manual to figure it out,” Weaver joked. “Swearing ensues, as well as self-talk about why a person with a master’s degree can’t figure out how to change a damn clock, accompanied by a mental lesson in which I assure myself I will remember for the next time.”
If you wear a watch, count on your kitchen clock, or look at the glowing numbers on your car’s dashboard, set a mental reminder to change the time. (Those who rely on smartphones don’t have to worry.) If you forget, going to church, for instance, could be embarrassing when everybody is leaving as you are arriving.
Sheila Guy of Akron remembers a time when her father purposely set the clocks ahead on April Fools’ Day.
“When we got to church, no one was there,” she offered. “Then he had time to take us out to breakfast.”
OK, breakfast is a good idea — provided you get there before the sausage links on the grill are replaced with burgers.
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.