October 4, 2021
Imagination, Day 35—Granddaddy’s watch
“Satisfaction is a lowly thing…
How pure a thing is Joy”
—Marianne Moore, What Are Years?
Please remember that I only saw Granddaddy a couple of times, and those visits were brief. I knew of him mainly through his humor that Mom would periodically tell me about. One of my favorite stories to this day is one she told me about his pocket watch. I was probably around 6 or 7 when I heard it. Here’s the story:
Granddaddy was at the dinner table one evening. There was a rather large group of family and friends at the table and this meant there was a good number of children. My mother was one of those children. I don’t know how old she would have been—I would guess around ten or twelve.
The conversation at the table was lively, but at one point the talking stopped. Everyone was watching Granddaddy. Someone had asked him what time it was and the kids all knew that they would get to see his gold pocket watch.
He had turned sideways in his chair and he had his right leg stuck out so that he could get his hand in his pants pocket. He reached around in his pocket, moving his hand this way and that. Then he finally said, “Got it.”
Granddaddy turned back toward the table and opened his hand to show a napkin that looked as if something was wrapped up in it. He slowly unfolded the napkin, took out his gold railroad watch, folded the napkin carefully, opened the cover of the watch, peered at it carefully and said, “It is thirteen minutes after eight, Eastern Standard Time.”
Granddaddy looked up at everyone and smiled. Then he picked up the napkin, unfolded it, and carefully wrapped the watch back up as it had been before.
He slowly and carefully put the watch back in his pocket.
This, of course, was too much for the children’s curiosity. My mother looked at him and asked, “Daddy, why is your watch so carefully wrapped up?
Granddaddy looked at her as if she should know the answer to the question.
Then he said,
“Well, if I wrap it carefully enough it will keep the ticks from getting out and ruining my pants.”
I remember giving Mom a blank stare when she told it to me.
Then I figured it out and we laughed together.
I tried it at a family gathering one time, but no one asked me why the watch was wrapped up and I didn’t get to use the punch line. I guess they all just accepted that I was crazy.
Memories keep them with us.
Photo by Tommy Cobb