Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grandfather Time


This Westclox watch was the sole item I inherited from my mother's father when he passed on. I got it way back in 1998 and I wore it out. Old Sam Stevens had a bunch of watches that I remember and he seemed to prefer those metal bands. This one was probably not his last watch, I think it was just a watch that still worked but he had grown tired of so he kept it in a drawer like frugal men often do with change and handkerchiefs. I was starting my music studies at Humboldt State University when I learned of his passing and I soon received a box with some effects, pictures (he took thousands of pics and had boxes of slides), this watch, some postcards I sent to him years earlier "Hi Grandpa, I hitchhiked to Nevada today and slept in a ditch. Wolves or coyotes prowled around me and I had to light a fire to keep them away. Got a job working construction..."
Also included in the box was a brand new stick of deodorant. Like old spice or something like that. Immediately I recognized the importance of that stick of deodorant. See, it was brand new. The little plastic thing that keeps the wax fresh was still on it. If you are like me then deodorant takes months to finish. I don't like it because it is modern and false. But I wear it sometimes when I want to be modern and false. My grandfather wore it from tradition. I don't think he smelled, but he wore it even after his wife had moved into the nursing home. He always tucked in his shirt and shaved. I never saw him looking unkempt even after his rib cage was cracked open and veins were taken from his leg and used to bypass clogged arteries in his heart. He wasn't a military man, he just always looked properly dressed. Anyway, deodorant isn't the type of thing you go out and stock up on, not if you are 88 years old and never shop at Costco. So, Grandpa Stevens was probably down to his last one or two swipes with his old deodorant and was at the store picking up some pills or something for his wife and he thought, "Hell, I'm here, so I might as well get some deodorant." You see where this is heading? He bought this deodorant and it probably takes a few weeks if not months for him to use an entire stick...and he died before he pulled the cap off. There is a lesson there if you care to investigate but it has forever changed the way I look at deodorant. (I'm still using the same stick he gave me in 1998)

So, I took his gold watch and wore it for 12 years. I asked my mother if it was an expensive watch and she laughed, "$9.99 at Sears." A couple times it stopped working but I messed with the complications (watch speak for "mechanism") and it started to work again. I glued a fake diamond back where it belonged on the face. Finally, in La Paz, it stopped working completely. I took it to a relojeria...watch shop, and asked if they could fix it. It was not practical to fix because you could just buy a new core and put it in the case. So I pondered this but decided to retire it because it wouldn't be the same watch. But I still had it and recently decided to make a necklace out of hemp and mount the watch on it as a centerpiece.

So I went down to the Water Monkey in Portsmouth where Roger showed me how to weave hemp. I got some beads at Bead Zen (it's closing down) and put some of those in it without getting a parking ticket. Then I went and got some glass squares to use as a slip knot and picked up Sam's watch out of the van and put it on there. And this is the latest incarnation for his watch. I thought about how I should set it and then looked up his birthday...and find out that this is his 100th anniversary. So, (if we imagine military time) I set it 19:10, the year he was born. I'm still trying to figure out the day he was born so I can put the date to that. Does anyone know?



Here's a more factual update from Sam's younger daughter. I don't get all the facts right but it was mostly in the name of readability that I skipped some details. Focus is key and if I only receive a stick of deodorant and a watch then that keeps my essay focused. But if you want to know some more details here they are in the voice of another. It was made in Japan model: LTX 226 038 pc32 sr626sw

That was fun to read! Wow, I didn't realize Sammy boy would have been 100 this year. But 88 is pretty darn good. He was very athletic as a young man, and if he'd married a woman so inclined as himself to keep active, he would have lived longer! But we can't always get what we want, as the song goes. He did have $4K in his savings account I believe, and J. and I sent $1K each to the 4 grandsons. He had paid into an insurance policy for years, but if you die of old age basically, the payout is paltry. I think it was $10K, that J. and I split to pay for our travel expenses. She was in Turkey, I in Hanoi. As 'estates' go, it was pretty simple and stress free. We gave away his posh recliner that he loved! We bought an American Flag for the Church Hill senior center to fly outside; their old one was in tatters, and it made Dad mad. And a bench for Edgewood Center. And that was that! I kept all his handkerchiefs, and believe you me, I use them in these sweaty countries! They smelled like Dad (Bengay, Old Spice) for a long time, through many washings!
He always looked at catalogs that sold watches. Of course, before the age of the Internet you had to go on marketing ploys and descriptions. Although come to think of it, he loved Consumer Reports magazine. I would say the watch was not from Sears, but from a catalog, and it was his only watch at the time. I didn't think it was working when I sent it to you, but I guess it did. I would guess it was a $50 watch in its day - as I remember the catalog. He had it a long, long time. But then it's easy to forget such things. You can look up Westclox on the web and see when they were last made. I wonder if it's made in China. If it was the US it cost more money. I wish it had been a Rolex for you! No one wears watches now with iPhones and cellphones. Your new necklace is a tribal kind of tribute. Eccentric and creative! I sent your email to J. to enjoy.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.