Clyde, Time Was: Take this timely advice for the new year

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 31, 2017

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future

And time future contained in time past.

—T.S. Eliot, b. 1888

Time was, time was a clock on the wall. You looked at it to tell you the time, but first you had to learn to tell time.

Clocks were everywhere you turned. You watched them. If your clock needed repair, we went to Mr, Kneeburg in Spencer, who sold his last gold 992B pocket watch a long time ago.

The old kitchen clock tick-tocked until the sound disappeared into lost time. If you didn’t want to hear it, or the “charm” kept you awake, just don’t wind the strike side. The same two-sided clock key fit both holes but turned the opposite direction to wind the springs.

Mantle clocks, oak “rooster heads,” French marble, ogee with weights, Ansonia, Waterbury, Eli Terry, Seth Thomas — they all had to be wound every 36 hours or eight days if you remembered to wind them.

Grandfather clocks stood guard in the front hall or on the stair landing. Clocks are sadly relegated to antique shops or movie sets. Lloyd Morris, the clock man, said “it needs bashings” no matter what was the matter with it. The words “big hand” and “little hand” are obsolete in school.

Ye olde clock on the Square was given in 1978 to the citizenry by Norman Luke Ingle, who loved a parade more than anybody. Its original brass movement has held up through time when, one day, it was moved from Day’s Jewelers in Winston-Salem where it once stood, one time.

Night watchmen spent their time watching clocks while walking from post to post with a key to turn the time clock. Kinda like a watched pot never boils. We had to have a watch or wristwatch, and you spent a  lot of wasted time just asking, “What time is it?” Lost time is never found. Your time would be better spent to organize your brain, prioritize your “to do” list and make time for a deeper faith in God before time runs out.

Mary Marshall Murdoch, who wrote crossword puzzles for The New York Times, said that without circular time on a real clock, as opposed to linear time or digital time on a computer, people could not see time move and therefore didn’t know where time went or how to plan ahead of time before it ran out. She was ahead of her time. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. What would Dali, Alice or Cinderella be without a clock?

Furniture stores that sold clocks kept them set at 8:20 to look restful. High noon was a special time if you were a cowboy. We lived all night before George T. Hudson gave us Daylight Saving Time.

Time capsules have fascinated us for hundreds of years. Get it? During our short lives, buildings and addresses change too often. The First Presbyterian Bell Tower, 1893, has a carved granite cornerstone still intact on the left corner. History campers like to guess what’s inside and are always stumped as to what they would put in a time capsule today. Heaven forbid what relics represent us now.

If you could put time in a bottle, you could sell it for a premium.

Why do we spend so much time checking Facebook 400 times a day when it doesn’t really make a difference what time it is? It will be the same time tomorrow and you will most likely be the same 23 pairs of chromosomes waiting for the next handout unless you get to work. Unplug. We should have a Day Without Wireless holiday. We wouldn’t know what to do next.

If you could put “yo’self” in a converted microwave time machine, which way would you choose to go? Turn back time or go to the future? Either way, what would you do to warn others of their frozen place in time? Henry David Thoreau — yes, the one who lived in the woods — surmised: “What you call barrenness and poverty is to me simplicity. God could not be unkind to me, if he should try. … I have never gotten over my surprise that I should have been born into the most estimable place in all the world, and in the very nick of time, too.”

So use your time wisely, or you may end up doing time. Take time out to be healthy. Get out the old Bowflex, Bullworker, Stairmaster, Ab Lounge 2, Thigh Master or NordicTrack and put it to good use.

“Quitting time” at work is when “time off” starts. Try to keep time with the music. Procrastination does not make for time on your hands. May every minute count.

Here’s hoping you have the time of your life in 2018. Let the good times roll, but don’t forget somebody needs to wind the clock.

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.