Somewhere in Time…

After spending time at the Midwest Area Rally in Amana, Iowa, my wife, Sondra, and I came back through Elkhart, Indiana, our hometown. Then we went on to  Cincinnati for a week’s worth of work there for FMCA. On our way home from the FMCA national office, we found out that our house had sold. We lived in this house for nearly 40 years.

Since then, Sondra and I have been very busy getting all of our “stuff” out of the house. We very quickly found out that our grown children had very little interest in taking their remaining possessions from the house.

Somewhere in Time

One of the items that has been in our Elkhart house for years is an antique Pennsylvania tall clock. This clock has a very interesting history. Engraved on the inside of the front case is an inscription that says “Christmas 1889.” My grandfather, on my mother’s side, purchased it as a wedding present for my grandmother.

He bought it at Bailey Banks and Biddle, 1832 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bailey Banks and Biddle is one of the oldest upscale jewelry companies in the United States. The jewelry and clock store opened in downtown Philadelphia in 1832, and the company is still in business today, with most of their stores in Texas. The original store is now in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

The first move of the clock was when my grandfather died. My grandmother moved it with her from Philadelphia to Fairfield, Illinois. The clock remained in Fairfield until she died. My mother inherited it and moved it to her hometown of Herrin, Illinois.

When my parents were married in 1945, during World War II, this clock stood in the background. I grew up in the house with the big grandfather clock. With its very loud sound and beautiful voice, it chimed on the hour and the half hour. I became so accustomed to this that I stopped hearing the clock, but friends who visited my house were always aware of the loud chimes.

The Next Chapter

When I proposed to Sondra, we went to my parents’ house to give them the news of our engagement. My father took a picture of us in front of the old grandfather clock. That was in the winter of 1966. The clock was ticking out the time and was perfectly on time.

When my parents died, the old clock became mine. Sondra and I moved it to our bedroom in our house in Elkhart. The bedroom was the only room in the house where the clock would fit, because it is over 8 feet tall.

When my daughter, Susanne, came home one night in 2005 to let us know she was engaged, you guessed it, I took a picture of her and her fiancé (now husband), Ryan, in front of the old grandfather clock. The clock, by the way, was still ticking out perfect time. In fact, the clock is accurate to a couple of minutes in a week.

When my son, Matt, came by in May 2008 and told us that he and his girlfriend (now wife), Megan, were engaged, of course we took their photograph in front of the old grandfather clock, which was still ticking out very accurate time.

Several days ago, I took the whole day to very carefully move the grandfather clock to our lake cottage, where we hope to spend the rest of our days – when we’re not in the motorhome, of course. The old clock is still ticking out perfect time!

This old grandfather clock has been around since 1889 and has been ticking away every day since it was purchased. It has been moved four times since my grandfather bestowed it upon his bride. Now a treasured family heirloom, it has witnessed many events, and it still just keeps ticking away with very accurate time.

Maybe some of you know the history of these early, handmade, accurate clocks. Possibly you have one yourself? Or perhaps you have another family heirloom or family tradition to share. I would love to hear from you!

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16 Comments on Somewhere in Time…

  1. I would bet the Company can give you lots of factual information about your clock. I so hope your children fight over whom the goes to next! I find myself saddened when so many young people don’t have the love for old, valued items that has family history! I was that way once. Now I love the history and stories.

  2. I love your private clock history. My mother had a tall clock built back in the 60’s. It quit chiming the day she passed. I have the clock in my living room. It keeps good time, but is reluctant to chime. Great memories. My wife had a clock repair man work on the clock a few years ago. It chimed until we let it run down why we were away traveling. I am reluctant to have it chime again. I think of my mother every Sunday when I set the weights for the week. Enjoy your clock and all those good memories.

    • Wow, what a great story.. I believe your story about the clock stopping to chime on the day your mother passed. My wife Sondra absolutely swears that she talks to our sister in law through a beautiful cardinal that seems to appear when she is thinking about Sally.

    • Do you ever have friends over that are aware of your clock when it chimes and say something to you about it?….when you don’t even hear it?

  3. Jon, I grew up hearing a song “My Grandfathers Clock” and your story brought back that memory. Google “Tennessee Ernie Ford My Grandfathers Clock”

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