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I recently decided to bring to life an old friend that has followed us from one home to another for over forty years. My Grandfather clock has occupied a prominent place in all our houses. We moved a lot. It is now resting in it’s tenth new home in Welland, Ontario. This after being located in nine places of honor, he is settled as if made for this final place before I go to my maker.  When we moved from a very large house to a summer home converted to four seasons living, my friend never got started up for many reasons. It sat at four o’clock for 10 years.  He now rings on the hour with a harsh single clang on a handmade bell as he did back about 1710  when he was born, Westminster chimes were not invented until much later.

 My friend rang out twelve noon to-day and it caused me to wonder, just how many families it has served getting them up in the morning, making sure that some were on time for work or church or school, or to call families to meals. What sort of houses did it occupy and how was it treated over this vast time span. My mind started to spin with all sorts of questions I would ask my friend standing there just doing what it was meant to do. Tick Tock – Tick Tock. All my clock needs from me is a little love, some dusting once in a while and a wind every day. So little to ask for so much in return.

If I were to re live my friend’s long life, would it resemble something like the following story?

"I originated from a stout Oak tree but many of my parts are of other woods as well. Some Walnut and a bit of Cherry and Apple to complete my frame and exterior. My inner workings are of brass and iron and lead, some tin and steel are a part of my inner being as well. I think there could be a bit of Gold that embellishes my hands but I don’t want to give the impression that I am a high flouting clock. The glass protecting my face was poured over smooth sand and for some reason it is still intact, a wonder for all I have been through. Perhaps when I was created, I was pretty special, but times have changed and I am a very insignificant piece of furniture now compared to when I first came on the scene about 300 years ago.
My memory has faded somewhat but I do recall my first home where I was born, it was in Bridgewater, Somerset, England.  George Rossiter was my creator and his building which consisted of a forge and a carpentry shop was on the banks of the River Parrett. After a number of coats of Bee’s wax, I was ready for my first look outside since my journey started as a great oak log many months before.

"A sturdy horse drawn wagon arrived early one crisp sunny morning in September at a large imposing stone house in Bath about 50 KM from Bridgewater. It was a long overnight, bumpy trip. I was securely tied down with many layers of straw to protect my body and my works, they were packed separately in a stout wooden box. Much like to-day, I arrived KD {knocked down}.  My long slender body, my works and a third piece that was equally frail, my top that  slid easily over my working parts. My maker George Rossiter delivered me in person as he wanted to be sure that I would be installed correctly and in good working order for my new owner.

I was very pleased to be placed in a fine Grand Ballroom with high oak beamed ceilings and a highly polished quarter cut oak floor. It was some time before I realized just how lucky I was. Most Grandfather clocks were made much taller than I and that was due to the fact that they would be sitting on cold damp stone floors. The dampness would eventually rot the base and because it was made so high, the rot could be cut off and then placed on a new firm base. I was made shorter for placement on dry wood floors and I was so pleased that I would never have to have my feet cut off.
Time flew by for me. I witnessed many a great party and I was pleased to be able to draw the attention to the time with my distinct bell chiming on the hour. Many generations came and went, some families were gentle and kind and some not so nice. I was rarely in touch with my owners as the servants were responsible for my maintenance and general upkeep. I was wound every day at 4:00 PM, just before tea time except on the rare occasion when the family was away on holiday and the servants let down on some of their responsibilities. I was a good and faithful time keeper from 1710 through to my being retired from my place in the grand room and put away in the servant’s quarters where I had more responsibility keeping the staff up to date. More than one lost their job for not being on time for service to the gentry.
 I keep time by the second the hour and the date. Quite a responsibility for an old boy like me. Very roughly allowing for time out and down time for service and holidays, I have done 9.5 billion tick tock seconds since I started in 1710.
Early in the 1950’s I was moved from my home in Bath, UK by a red nosed, stout, poorly dressed Cockney that I did not like very much.  He treated me with little or no respect and put me in a warehouse with dozens of other clocks gathered from all over England. We just sat around for about 10 years and while I was not very useful, not being wound, I did get to know some of the life stories of other clocks. I had a great respect for some that lived a life travelling many places within Great Britain and beyond. I was one of the senior members but had a very uneventful life by comparison to my new found friends.
Without notice, we were packed up and put in a large steel box called a container. I had a label attached to me with a number and a destination saying – Toronto, Canada via Halifax. NS. Little did I know just what a wonderful life I had in store for me in my new home, Canada.
All my warehouse buddies came along and we were eventually lined up along a wall in a large hall. I had heard about Auction sales, we had one or two in Bath when my owners had run into what I had heard were “hard times”, however, fortunately, I was never directly involved. Not so to-day. The hall filled up quickly and soon things were put up for sale to the highest bidder. I recognized a lot of pieces of furniture that were stored in the warehouse in London and I was quite interested when a lovely coffee table came on the block, her shiny Walnut  finish was so attractive and she had great legs as well. I was always attracted to that table but not so the buyers. No one was bidding and I felt so sorry for the table that no one was interested. All of a sudden,  a large baritone voice called  out from the back of the room, $135.00.  A new bidder had just arrived and the hall seemed to take on a new life. – SOLD! – The bidding started to improve and then all of a sudden, it was our time for the spotlight. I was about the third or fourth in the line.  There was no enthusiasm for buying clocks that night and I was feeling badly that we were not appreciated more. “Next” called out the auctioneer,” we have one of the oldest pieces here to-night, this wonderful Grandfather clock from Bridgewater, England”. “Does it have Westminster chimes?” A man called out from the audience “No, of course not Harry, you know better than to ask that,”  and then that familiar baritone voice once again, the same price as we heard for the table was called out again, $135.00 and again the sound that made me feel so good -“SOLD”. I finally had a new home and with an old friend, the coffee table.
Canada I found is a much different place, people are different, they are more active, and they move a lot. I am in my tenth home in 45 years, with my new family. Certainly not the same as being with the same family in the same house for almost 300 years. However, my life has been a lot more interesting. These new owners of mine  are in love with me; they take a pride in me and show me off to their friends. They actually wind me themselves. We have more parties and I have always been in a most prominent place in the best room in the house. For  ten years I kept time in a most interesting room in a large house of more than 40 rooms. I held court in no less than Sir William Mackenzie’s country home office:  founder and owner of the Canadian Northern RR, now CNR and owner of the Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg street railways, [now electrified and known as the TTC, MTC and WTC], founder of Brascan, the builder of what is now known as The Sir. Adam Beck generating plant in Niagara Falls and much more. The house had been a convent for 50 years but now it was a large 15 bedroom bed and breakfast. Some of the houses I occupied were haunted and this one fit into that catagory. Twenty nine ghosts, I overheard my owner say. About 9 or 10 were sent off to the light in my presence, wow! That was some evening. I don’t understand it but it was a very interesting night.
And now, things are a little less hectic except when the grandchildren come for a visit. I have a place of honour and prominence and like my owners, I am enjoying the fruits of my labour.  I am looking forward to many years with my new family of almost 50 years."
That  Old Clock from Bridgewater UK


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