By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
What consumed James Tuck's interest before clocks?
'Well I was out on the street, messing with women,' Tuck said.
Giggles came from the corner. Dolores Marshall and Charlotte Guthrie, the two women who work with him at Springhouse Antiques, couldn't help from eavesdropping.
'Oh, you're wife will be glad to know that,' teased Ms. Marshall.
Tuck dismissed the semi-threat with a 'hmmph.'
'Ah, I was a pilot,' Tuck said.
That seems a bit of an understatement coming from the man credited with earning the United States its first aerial victory in the Vietnam conflict. An article in the October 1967 issue of Esquire magazine features Tuck and his successful air battle maneuver.
His war stories are a regular asset to the antique store. 'Couples will come in, and the husbands aren't wanting to shop and look at antiques,' Ms. Marshall said. 'So the men will sit and chat with Tuck, and they love it. He talks about the war, the politics and about airplanes.'
'He's the most wonderful man to listen to,' Ms. Guthrie said. 'He knows everything about everything. He knows about birds and flowers and how to fix cars. If we don't know it, we just have to ask Mr. Tuck.'
Returning the conversation to clocks, Tuck said he learned the craft of clock repair from Bob Ellis of Salado, another local clock man.
'Bob was one of the first folks I met when I got here,' Tuck said. 'Let's see, that was in 1980 when I retired.'
The fixing of the clocks is what he came to enjoy, not the collecting of them.
'There's only five of them set up at home,' Tuck said. 'But up in the workshop. That's a different story. Upstairs, I've got a whole room just for clocks. There's about 250 clocks up there spread all over.'
He stopped to take a breath and give a good laugh.
'It's not a good thing that my wife's knee is bad,' Tuck said. 'But it is a good thing that she can't get up there to see how messy it is.'
Ms. Marshall and Ms. Guthrie shared another set of giggles.
'His voice is one you just don't miss,' Ms. Marshall said. 'With that deep Virginian accent of his.'
'Mr. Tuck's a riot,' Ms. Guthrie said. 'He's what keeps this place alive.'