Kittie Howard


Friday, March 22, 2013

Tick Tock; Tick Tock

My grandmother kept her Longines wristwatch in its original box in her top dresser drawer. When we kids saw the watch on her slim wrist, we figured she was either going to the doctor or to visit a certain cousin. She complained doctors didn't see patients when they said they would and this cousin ran at the mouth so much she was going to talk her way out of heaven. Although I don't know about the heaven part, my grandmother was right about the chatty cousin and doctors who overbooked patients (even Back Then).

My mother kept the Longines wristwatch she rarely wore in a glass case on top of her dresser. We kids knew not to touch it, that something awful would happen--perhaps our hands would fall off or some such. Since my mother didn't raise her voice or threaten dire consequences, just said 'Don't touch,' I never quite figured out how it worked that we didn't touch her watch. But we didn't.

My grandmother called her Longines with the diamond chips around the crystal a wristwatch. My mother called her Longeines with slightly bigger diamonds a watch. We kids picked up on the generational nuance and knew when to use each word, not that we did so very often.

None of us kids had a watch. There was little reason to monitor time. School ended when it did, and regardless of the homework, books usually closed at the same time each school night. We'd watched a bit of television, take our baths, and off we'd go to bed. Weekends opened up--Friday night football, water skiing, perhaps a trip to Baton Rouge or the house filled with family and friends (hopefully with kids our ages). But Sunday night meant back to the books to make sure the homework was just right before going to bed.

My grandfather wore his watch when he left the farm for various meetings and the like; my father wore his watch to work during the week but not on weekends. Their watches had big round faces and were the polar opposite of dainty. Neither man had a habit of constantly checking his watch.

I like watches and can't pass a display window without stopping. Not that I want to purchase these watches. There's just something about how jewelers decorate a basic timepiece that appeals. More on the intangible level, I admit to pushing the clock to accomplish goals, something I've given thought to lately.

Actually, a sepia-tone photograph of my grandparents I came across in a box (while looking for something else) triggered these thoughts. My grandparents are sitting on a bench in El Paso, Texas, very nicely dressed in the 1920s fashion of the day, but neither's wearing a watch.

My grandmother used to fuss at me when I got too busy. "What are you rushing to?" she'd ask with a chuckle.

I had no answer for her then and would have no answer now, except to say that this afternoon I heard a bird chirping its heart out and stepped outside to find this feathered Adele. One chirp led to another until I finally spotted a Cardinal at the very top of a still-bare oak tree. I don't know how long I listened to its serenade. I didn't have my watch on. But the memory is forever.












23 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

I have a very nice watch,but rarely wear it.I have my fathers also, and he only wore it on special occasions also.My mother was never without hers.

Ms Sparrow said...

My parents gave me a watch as a graduation gift from high school. I developed an allergy to the metal and could never wear it. To this day, I have never worn a watch and since I don't have a cell phone I'm reliant on clocks or other people for the time.

mshatch said...

Gosh, I haven't worn a watch in a long time - I don't think I even have one lying around anymore! I like some of the old pocket watches; they're beautiful!

Liza said...

I have worn watches forever it seems...which may be the cause of or the result of a compulsion to be on time or early everywhere. That said, I'm sure the watch manufactures cringe in horror at cell phone usage that eliminates the need to wear watches anymore.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't wear it at home, but if I leave the house, I have to have my watch on or I feel naked.

Kelley Lynn said...

Don't wear a watch, I guess that's what the cell phone is for.

Norma Beishir said...

I always wore a watch--thought I could get by without one when I started carrying a cellphone, but no. I'm back to wearing a wristwatch anyway! Old habits die hard!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I think watches today are quite stunning and very reasonable. I have two watches. One my dad bought me the last Christmas before I left home. The other my husband bought me for a Christmas gift many years later. Must have caught his fancy, I suppose.

I love your stories, Kitty. Wish I lived closer. I'd invite myself over for tea, sit on the front porch, and listen to you talk as long as I could.

William Kendall said...

I have a couple of watches, but haven't worn them in years. And my dad has a pocketwatch that I'll eventually inherit, that belonged to his father.

FrankandMary said...

Birdsong can be a portal to a wider world. And so can paying attention to what your grandmother has to say. ~Mary

Manzanita said...

Such a nice remembrance. Watches used to be a craftsman's work of art and people cherished them. So many things are easily disposed of today.

Mark Means said...

One of my very best Christmas times was when I was about eight or nine and my parents got me my very first watch. It was hidden in the tree and they made me look for it. When I found it, I remember being so happy. I think I felt like an adult, or something, I don't know. I just remember it being a great time.

Since I started carrying around a cell phone, I don't wear watches anymore....haven't worn one in years.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Sweet story. I'd love to see the vintage photo of your grandparents. I haven't worn a watch in years. My wrists are too small anyway. :/ Good to see you again!

D.G. Hudson said...

It's good for you to do that stepping outside more often. Loved reading these thoughts about time and how we treat it.

I like watches, and clocks, but if I'm wearing one or near one, I become a clock watcher. Some habits must be inborn.

Beth said...

A lovely post. I never wear a watch either. But if I'm in Pilates class, I sometimes sneak a look at the wristwatch on the next woman's arm to see how much time is left!

A Normandy kitchen said...

Hello Kittie,
A lovely post that takes me back to my Grandparents and their watches. I have my Grandfathers fob watch and chain (with tiny coins attached), which I just love to inspect although never wear. He luckily had two fob watches, so my brother has one also. Being the younger sibling, I got the silver and he the gold but I prefer mine, I think he used mine more!
Your 'Oyster e-mail' is late but I will send it this week (sorry).
Ivan

Jill Haugh said...

What a lovely post. Thanks you so much for your insightful prose. I really enjoyed reading it.
As a side note this post reminded me of an experience I recently had with a young girl at work who didn't know how to read a clock-face because she has always read it digitally. Honestly. I offered to teach her, but she declined, not seeing the purpose. She is nineteen.
~Just Jill

Jill Haugh said...

P.S. I put this post as my "Blog de Jour" over at the nut-tree. It is just so dang pretty I wanted to share it.
Just Jill

Misha Gericke said...

Sweet post.

I also don't have a huge fascination with watches. Only put mine on when I have somewhere to go.

The reason is simple. It hurts me when I type on my laptop, which I do for most of my average day.

Linda Starr said...

Never knew the nuances of wristwatch and watch, seems everyone nowadays looks at their phone to see what time it is. Ha.

Cherie Reich said...

What great memories!

I do think watches are neat to look at, but I can't wear them because I'm allergic to the stainless steel backings in most of them.

Amy Jarecki said...

This brings back memories. I have my grandmother's Bulova watch. It looks more like a fragile piece of jewelry than a time piece...but it takes me back.

Sandra said...

Lovely story, Kitty, which I enjoyed reading.

Happy Easter to you!

Best wishes