I love collecting old things, but found over this year that some old things are more important to me than others. My old clock just chimed out the hour and I had to smile. It has hung in every house my husband and I have lived in. For years, I have faithfully wound it weekly and it has chimed to the movement of our life. During the day, it was barely noticed, but during a sleepless night, it’s comforting chime would reassure that all would be well and life would go on. When I moved into my last house, the clock got hung, but I never wound it up. It hung there in silent acclimation; I got over the guilt of never winding it.
This clock has a personal place of importance since it was the first antique that Leo and I bought. It was a bright, clear fall day and we were young marrieds looking for something to do. We decided to drive to upstate New York and just enjoy the weather and the day. We sped along in my gray Mustang Grande with the windows rolled down, listening to music on the radio, and talking about this and that. The day had that “I’m alive and loving it” feel as we meandered away from the hustle and bustle of New York City toward the peace and quiet of the countryside.
Seeking a chance to stretch our legs, we stopped at a roadside antique shop. We wandered through the aisles admiring someone’s beloved treasures, but buying nothing since money was tight. As we neared the back of the shop, Leo’s attention was caught by a wooden wall clock hanging in stately quiet with it’s pendulum still. It’s exterior condition was very good; had the original face; and had been made in Germany in the 1860’s. He got so excited and wanted it immediately. Questioning the lady behind the counter about the clock, she advised him that the price was $75. Looking at me, he exclaimed, “My mom and dad have one just like it. I’ve just got to have it.” I sat on a bench for shoppers and watched as he talked with the lady. He was open, wide-eyed, and animated. He was never that way with me or anyone else since his normal demeanor was more guarded and rarely animated. It was fascinating; I still see him leaning over the counter talking with an intensity that was to become his norm. It was apparent, even to my beginner’s eye, that he had no negotiation skills for something he really wanted.
Worried about the money, I was reluctant to agree and, even at that point of our early marriage, he wouldn’t have bought it if I hadn’t consented. I pretended to not want it since I knew that we would leave the store carrying the clock. Finally, the clerk told us that the clock was broken and she didn’t know how much it would cost to fix it; therefore, she would drop the price to $60. I didn’t know enough about negogiating at that point to know if that was a good deal or not. But I figured she was doing the best she could and we should agree to the price. So, I said okay and we quickly wrapped up the deal. At that time, the fifteen dollars saved meant a lot to us. We were both giddy from the experience laughing and retelling the experience from both our viewpoints over and over all the way home.
In less than a week, the clock was repaired and hung in our home. Leo wound it with care and set the pendulum swinging. We listened to the ticks and bongs as it rang out the hour and half hour watching as it marked each minute. We were absolutely thrilled with our first meaningful purchase together. That’s the clock that hangs now and ticks the minutes away. When I look at it now these many years later, my eye sees the clock, but my mind’s eye sees that young, animated man leaning over the counter talking about something he already loved.