My Father's Clock
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Candace Nippolt
The Spectator
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      The clock my father inherited from his German-American mother was an ornate carved, dark wood piece, made in Germany in the late l800's, I think. It stands about a foot and a half high and seven or eight inches across. It was very old fashioned looking when I first became aware of it as a child in the l950's. Carved like a little temple, it had a pitched roof, pillars, a broad base, and a large face with gold scroll work and Gothic style black enamel numbers.
     It was so different in character from all our other furniture which ranged from carved dog beating sticks my father bought in the 30's inShanghai for protection on Chinese night streets to an l8th century chest of drawers. It was a voice out of my father's past which went with us from duty station to duty station, for my father was a naval officer. It always had a place of honor although it never "went" with the rest of the decor in the room in which it was placed. It was a member of the family following us from state to state.
Several times we lived in big three-story quarters and the clock would be placed in the downstairs or upstairs sitting rooms. It didn't really matter where it was put because you could hear it strike throughout our quiet home. It's tone was round, soft, bell-like, and at night had a silvery quality. It marked the hours through the night until dawn and during the day reminded us of what we should be doing and when to do it.
     When I heard it chime at night, it seemed to be a sentinel, watching over us.Its sound was calming, reassuring to hear. Later in life I read about watchmen who walked through a town at night with a lantern assuring citizens of the time that all was well. This clock was like that long ago watchman. It was a seven-day clock, and once a week my father would open the glass front with a little gold key and solemnly wind it. Then he would check and tap all the barometers --we always had several in the house. These were checked daily even when he was not going to sea.
     Where is the clock now? Deep in storage with my parents things, surrounded by furniture and china and paintings and such, carefully wrapped, waiting to be taken out and restored to its rightful position in my house. Ready to guard and protect me, just as my father always did.