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What’s so special about an old clock? One that’s been hanging on the wall of our family room for more than forty years. One that has no batteries. One with no cord to plug in. A clock that chimes every half-hour and on the hour reports the time. It’s a windup clock that requires winding once a month. If the room is quiet, you can hear it running, “tick-tock, tick-tock.” 

Our old clock brings back memories of the one-room country school that I attended for eight years. A clock just like the one we have now, hung on the school’s south wall. It was key to everything we did at the school. When school began, it chimed nine times. When we burst from the building for recess, one chime at 10:30, when we could find our lard-pail lunch buckets for noon lunch, twelve chimes. Two-thirty for afternoon recess, and four chimes announcing dismissal.

How I remember those cold wintry days, smelling chili and soup and whatever was brought from home. As the jars were warming in a pan of water on the wood stove in the back of the school room, delightful smells filled the school room We watched the clock move ever so slowly toward twelve and lunch time.

I also remember Miss Thompson, my seventh grade teacher, saying to the ragtag collection of farmer kids, “I want it so quiet in this room that we can hear the tick-tock,of the clock on the wall.” The room was oh so quiet.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: An old clock can evoke life-long memories.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to www.jerryapps.com. 

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