Friday, January 02, 2009

EMPS #18: Watching the Clock

clock  IMG_0980

Here is an easy one folks, grab your cameras and show me the time. A clock, a watch, an hourglass, the clock on your cell phone, the clock in the town square. If it tells time, it will be perfect!

Extra Credit: Show me a clock with your favorite time of day on it.
If you want to play too, click HERE.

I love participating in Carly's Monday Photo Shoot. I don't always manage to do it, but this week's topic was so appealing I couldn't resist: to shoot a photo of a favorite clock, watch, hourglass, etc. I had to go no further than my living room, where this, my favorite clock, resides.

It comes from A's family. He has generously let me keep it at my house. He has a similar clock in his own house, but I especially love this clock because besides being beautiful, it has a great history, at least the part that I know. That said, I wish that I knew more about it. I know that it's a 19th century French clock and that the case was made by P.H. Mourey, because that name is stamped onto the back of it, but I don't know who made the movement. I know that it's old: at least 137 years old, but I don't know exactly how old.
It sits on a lacquered wood and gilt stand that clearly was built for it.
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Winding it involves using two wonderful old bronze keys and gently setting a pendulum underneath into motion. Most interesting to me, however, is that this clock has survived at least two major fires: the Great Chicago Fire, which burned from October 8 to October 10, 1871, and my house fire, which happened, rather eerily, the evening of October 10, 2002, exactly 131 years later, to the day, that the Chicago fire ended. That fact, that the dates were the same, didn't occur to me until I was writing this. According to family history, this clock survived the Chicago fire by being wrapped in a pillowcase, along with much of the family silver, and being buried in the sand along Lake Michigan. Apparently hundreds of Chicago families buried their valuables before fleeing the fire, and afterward, between other families looking for their possessions and looters looking for anything valuable, actually managing to locate any of your own possessions was something of a miracle.

However, happily for me, this clock was indeed found by A's family and eventually ended up gracing the top of one of the bookcases in my living room, where it survived my house fire 131 years later simply by luck: the fire started upstairs, which is where most of the damage was done, but this clock was downstairs, where the damage, although significant, was due to smoke and water rather than to the fire itself. After my house fire, I found someone who specializes in repairing old clocks. He spent some time working on it and did what was required to get it running again. It still keeps time when wound, and chimes the hours with a lovely tone, but considering it's age, and the fact that I have to climb up on a chair to reach it, most of the time I don't keep it wound. It is showing my favorite time of day: a little after 5 PM. I like this time because weekdays, I'm either finishing up at work or, if I'm lucky, I'm already at home, done with work for the day and pouring a glass of wine and thinking about what I'm going to cook for dinner.


Chris said...

It was very interesting to learn about the history behind the clock. I especially enjoyed the bit about the families burying the valuables. I don't recall hearing that about the great fire of Jacksonville so now I want to go back and see if anything similar happened there. (my hometown)

emmapeelDallas said...

I'll bet it did! Lucky for us, an aunt took it upon herself to write as much family history as she could remember, and she put it into a booklet, complete with photos, and distributed it. It's one of my favorite things, and it brings all that history to life.

I always enjoy your comments, and that said, I miss your blog, Chris! I hope to see it again soon.

Carly said...

Hi Judi

Hon, I LOVED this entry! What a fascinating time piece! My biggest fear is fire, too bad there aren't more good luck charms such as your clock. You must feel a little bit safer with it around. I believe in lucky charms, and your clock seems to be yours in a way. :) FASCINATING entry, thanks so much for sharing about the clock. :) I have to tell Alan all about it when he comes home!

Always, Carly

Mrs. L said...

That clock may be over 130 years old but I remember it from the sixties sitting on the mantel of A's family's fireplace in Chicago.

In fact, before I even read your entry, my first thought was, "I know that clock."

Glad to know it has a good home.

emmapeelDallas said...

LOL! That clock has many admirers, I'm sure, and I'm happy to see that you, too, have fond memories of it!

Tammy said...

What a great clock and story. I have a 100 year old clock from Germany my parents bought in Texas. ;) HUGS

Tressa Bailey said...

Completely awesome....I feel educated. I didn't realize how little I knew.

Suzanne R said...

What an interesting clock, and the stories about it make it all the more amazing!