Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Aunt Elizabeth's Clocks

Elizabeth Ashbaugh was Mother's older sister. They were very close both while they were growing up and after they were grown. Mom was the traveler of the two; Elizabeth stayed in Truth or Consequences pretty much her whole life. I don't know that she traveled much at all. So, Mom would breeze into town from Alaska, or Utah, or Afghanistan, and they would take up life much as before. I don't know whether Elizabeth envied Mom, thought Mom was flightly, or whether she thought much about it at all.
Aunt Elizabeth (Tootie is, of course, named after her, a story all its own) lived in a cinderblock house on the outskirts of town west of T or C. In fact, I don't know if she lived in T or C or not, since the hamlet of Williamsburg was just west of her property. She lived, almost literally on the edge of town, in an area where the streets were gravel and there were no sidewalks.
I loved Aunt Elizabeth's house. It was shaded by trees all around, and cool even in summer. One of the things I remember is Aunt Elizabeth's eclectic choices for clocks. Three in particular. One was a huuuuge (to a ten-year old) grandfather clock of some gleaming red wood. It had a long pendulum that swung back and forth with a measured and solemn "tock." The second was right next to it on the wall. It was a clock that advertised some beer or other, Jax or Lone Star. It featured a revolving drum painted in blue colors. When the clock was plugged in, a light behind the clock shown through and the drum rotated, looking (if you had imagination) like a waterfall.
My favorite though, was a mantle clock that chimed. It had a bong-bong-bong-bong melody for the quarter hour, a longer one for the half, a longer still for the three-quarter, and a full melody for the hour, plus striking the numbers. That way, you could be in another room and know that it was fifteen past whatever hour had recently struck.
I loved to sleep in Aunt Elizabeth's house, because I would wake in the night and listen for burglars, arsonists, or monsters. Then the clock would chime and I'd know that everything was all right, and I'd go back to sleep.
I loved that clock so much that I recently bought one, a clock made in about 1930 that is as close as I could find to the one that Aunt Elizabeth had. I wake up in the night to hear it chime and I am as comforted now as I was then.


bekkieann said...

I forgot to tell you how much I liked this post about your Aunt Elizabeth's clocks. It offers a little (and rare) insight to you as well - and what makes you tick.

On both your houses said...

Makes me tick! Awful word play. I liked it.

bekkieann said...

I thought you'd appreciate that.