For the Love of Pocket Watches

The constant “tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick” sounded quietly from the large, calloused hands of my grandfather.  Church was running long and I was getting quite squirmy.  As effective as a pacifier for a toddler, when he reached into his watch pocket and pulled out the golden watch, placed it near my ear and let me hear the quiet sound of time passing, it lulled me into a quiet moment.  He had me eating out of his hand.  And little by little I came to respect the pocket watch as a symbol of responsibility.  I was allowed to hold it, but only for a few minutes, and I had to be really careful each time I handled it.  The tiny second hand, moving visibly in its own little inset at the bottom of the watch face, I could see the visible marking of seconds.

A Hamilton Pocket Watch

A Hamilton Pocket Watch

I was probably seven or eight when I was given a “Bulls-Eye” pocket watch.  Its large size more appropriate for a kid, and its alloy case made it pretty indestructible.  I wore it with pride.  I had a big old chain that allowed me to tie it to my belt loops or the button hole in my Bibbed Overalls (which was my Saturday uniform).  It ticked loudly, reminding me of a wind-up alarm clock.  It lasted a while, but soon my exploits were too much for it and it stopped, never to tick-tock again.

My grandfather’s time piece lasted up until the day he was working cattle at Mr Collings’ farm.  A big Charolais bull kicked him right in the watch pocket as he was trying to get him on the truck.  The crystal broke, the inner workings never moved again.  The watch was “put up” somewhere for safe keeping, a little late if you ask me.  But that was ok.  By now I was sitting still in worship just fine, and I could get through a long sermon without crunching my “Lifesavers” too hard.

I have had several other watches.  But I was given my father’s Hamilton watch after his death in 1980.  I wore it in High School for two years, College, Seminary, and in the majority of my preaching appointments.  It would rest beside my Bible while I intoned the Sunday Sermon for years.  Then the main spring broke, not once but twice.  The second time I had it repaired I decided to retire it.  Its simple mechanics replaced with a “smart phone.”  I even read my scripture from that shiny machine.  But I miss my pocket watch.  I still wind it up just to hear the “tick-a-tick-a-tick” and to watch the second hand make its tiny circuits.

A. P. Carter, from back home, used to sing this song about a forlorn lover and his intention of putting his gold watch on the line to prove his love:

Chorus:

Oh I’ll pawn you my gold watch and chain love
And I’ll pawn you my gold wedding ring
I will pawn you this heart in my bosom
Only say that you’ll love me again

1.  Darling, how could I stay here without you
I have nothing to ease my poor heart
This old world would seem sad, love, without you
Tell me now that we never will part

2.  Take back all the gifts you have given
A diamond ring and a lock of your hair
And a card with your picture upon it
It’s a face that is false but is fair

3.  Oh, the white rose that blooms in the garden
It grows with the love of my heart
It broke through on the day that I met you
It will die on the day that we part

Oh I’ll pawn you my gold watch and chain love
And I’ll pawn you my gold wedding ring
I will pawn you this heart in my bosom
Only say that you’ll love me again
Only say that you’ll love me again

(From:  Emmylou Harris – Gold Watch And Chain Lyrics | MetroLyrics )

(Try Youtube’s recording http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pZD1Six5XI)

tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick . . .

About Brad Scott

An Appalachian CrossFitter who loves Jesus and is happily married to Tammie. I have a son and a fine little grandson. In the peak of middle age, trying to figure out the rest of this journey.
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