I am thrilled: the ship clock is repaired and back at home. The wind up spring stripped during its weekly winding, rendering it inoperable. The clock sat silent for some time – I can’t remember how long- until we finally got it to the clock repair.  After weeks of patience, we got the call: it was cleaned and repaired and ready for pick up. Even as I write I hear it chiming in the other room. The brass sound of ‘six bells’ announces it is 11PM, and I should retire. But I am too excited to sleep.

I bought the ship’s clock in an antique store in Key West. It must have been before 2001, for I brought it home on the airplane. Imagine trying nowadays to bring on board a large brass ticking clock!  Over the years my ship clock has had a several nervous breakdowns. The amount of money spent to repair it totals enough to have purchased several new clocks. But these dang newfangled types of ship clocks run on batteries, and the brass chimes sound digital. Not proper ship clocks, indeed!  I hope this current clean up keeps it going for some years.

My grandfather had ship clocks on his cabin cruiser and at home. We kids learned to tell time from chimes before we learned to read face clocks.  Odd # of chimes = half hour; even # = on the hour. 12PM, 4PM, and 8PM have eight chimes, which is when work-shifts change.  1230PM, 430PM, and 830PM start with one chime, and work up to eight when the shifts change again.  Clever-dicks may ask how can one tell 3PM (six bells) from 7PM or 11PM? I can tell if it is mid-afternoon from late night, thank you very much.

So, I feel a great comfort I have a proper ship clock again, ticking in its brass case, chiming the half hours and hour.  Memories of grandfather, my father (who had his own clock) come back to me on the chimes. I also think of Key West holidays. I will sleep well, waking at four chimes (6AM) as before.

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