Where Clocks and Typewriters Converge in My Family.

I was visiting my parents this weekend. In spite of some political differences, we broke bread and had a great time. We shared stories, many of which were family stories. I’m taking home a few items, given to me due to the proclivities I share with some ancestors. One is a book, The Complete Papers of the Boston Clock Club. My great-grandfather, James Conlon, a well-known clock maker himself, was a member, at one point serving as its president.

I leafed through the book, replicated from typescript (not sure how that process worked). The mission of the club reminds me of the Typosphere, representing an affable seriousness and a passion about its subject. These people knew their clocks.

As I continued to read, I noted the idiosyncrasies of the original typist–an occasional letter typed over and corrected, a lazy “a” produced by a pinky finger.

A few papers were presented by my great grandfather.

Later today I looked at the Seth Thomas clock sitting on the piano. Conversely, this clock comes from my father’s side. I remember looking at it when I visited his parents’ home in Brighton.

It hasn’t been working for about a decade. I thought I would take a look at it. The smalls skills I’ve developed from tinkering with typewriters have given me some confidence.

The spring coils could use some oil, which I’ll attend to later. There are two main assemblages in the clock: the clock gears and the chime gears. The former obviously initiates the latter. I carefully wound the spring coils. All good. The clock began ticking, but it stopped after thirty or so seconds. I then noticed the clock gear that moves the pendulum seemed out of place. I pushed it back into place. I also think the gears needed some exercise. After a while, I got it working. It’s been ticking and chiming all night. It’s coming home with me. I’d like to think my mechanical intuitiveness comes from James Conlon.

I have a photo of his daughter, Alice, my grandmother, which I’ll dig up later. In the photo, she is reposed in front of an L.C. Smith Standard typing documents at work. The photo is from the 1930s, if memory serves. Round and round we go.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill M says:

    Typing and ticking. Good combination. I never had the nerve to work on a clock.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mcfeats says:

      I overestimated my success. The clock stopped overnight. I still have some work to do.


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