Written by Laurel on January 27th, 2013
Made in the USA
I was a Luddite and proud. No iPhones, iPads, Notebooks or Smartphones for me. My cell phone was too ancient for texting. I preferred Windows XP. I’d bought a flat screen TV only after my twenty-year-old monster died. And my bread-making machine consisted of two hands. Was it any wonder I loved to write and read Steampunk? Retro-futuristic stories full of steam engines and wind-up clocks?
So that’s why I finally did it: shot a guilty glance in the direction of my quartz alarm clock and decided to purchase a real old-fashioned wind-up model. Today’s pathetic line of manual alarms were manufactured in China and best described with expletives. For twenty years, I hadn’t owned a dependable wind-up clock. Either it was time to shop via the Tardis, or log on to eBay. I selected the latter option.
Within a week, the mailman delivered the clock of my dreams: a Westclox Baby Ben, built in the USA sometime between 1964 and 1980. The timepiece was 3-1/4 inches tall, off-white in color with a shiny golden trim. Just like the clock I’d purchased for my grandmother in 1974, the one that had stopped working years before her death in 1989 and reawakened for two minutes in 1991 when I was ill, depressed and crying. I had kept my grandmother’s inoperative Baby Ben at the head of my bed since she’d passed away and now placed my “new” Baby Ben there, too.
This morning my new Baby Ben awakened me at 6 am. Right on schedule! I remained curled up in my cozy bed for several more minutes, enjoying the gentle tick-tock of my mechanical friend. Childhood memories of Mom’s two Baby Bens filled my mind. When her clocks had grown old, she’d repaired them by unscrewing their backs and touching their inner workings. Mom and clocks had shared an understanding.
I climbed out of bed and yawned. Across the room, the battery-operated clock on my dresser appeared gloomy, like a half-inch of dust had settled overnight. I loved this clock, too, a gift from my sister. I mean, how could I not love a clock that looked like a steam locomotive—and sounded like one when the alarm went off? I walked over to the steam train clock and patted its smokestack. Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold. The steam train clock seemed brighter now. Guess clocks and I shared an understanding, too.
Maybe I wasn’t such a Luddite, after all. More of a nostalgic gal with rewinding memories and a soft heart.
May all your happy memories rewind as needed,
Laurel Anne Hill (Author of “Heroes Arise”)
Causes Laurel Hill Supports
Winter Nights Shelter and Shelter, Inc.