Sunday, April 20, 2008

Grandma's clock finds its voice

Telegram Staff Writer

A customer walks in with a question about a clock.
The man David Yuergens wants is James Tuck, the clock guru at Springhouse Antiques in Salado. He's not difficult to spot; he's wearing a white baseball cap that says, 'Tuck's Tic Tocs.'
'What you got for me?' asks Tuck, a longtime clock repairman.
'It's not running,' Yuergens said, pointing at a gold clock inside an age-worn box.
The clock doctor sets the clock on the counter and leans forward, so that his eyes are level with his patient.
Not 30 seconds go by before Tuck says, 'Well of course it's not. You've got this piece on wrong.'
The repairman shares a laugh with Yuergens.
'Look here, this has got to hang on that little thing there,' Tuck said. 'You got that?'
Yuergens was now hunched beside Tuck squinting at the clock. His brow was furrowed, looking as if he were trying to commit Tuck's instructions to memory.
'Nothing else is wrong with it,' Tuck said. 'It's just got to be wound.'
As his able fingers worked, Tuck talked about the thing he was resuscitating.
'This is an anniversary clock,' Tuck said. 'Probably made in 1945. You can tell by how it was made.'
Yuergens and his wife, Linda, nodded.
The clock starts ticking. Tuck smiles, sets it on the counter and steps away.
'How will I know when to wind it again?' asks Yuergens.
'Well I just wound it for you,' Tuck said. 'This time next year, you'll know to wind it again.' The two men shared a laugh after Yuergens got the joke. It's an anniversary clock; it only needs to be wound once a year.
'You'll wind it when it stops running,' Tuck said, grinning like a sneaky boy would.
'Two days before tax day,' said Dolores Marshall from behind the counter, trying to be helpful.
Yuergens knew of Tuck's abilities from some of his earlier mechanical clocks that needed repairing. He is a budding clock enthusiast whose collection is up to five.
If anybody could fix his wife's clock, Yuergens said, it would be Tuck.
The timekeeper is an heirloom for Mrs. Yuergens. Its history in her family goes back to the early 1940s.
'It was the only thing from my grandmother's estate that I wanted to keep for myself,' she said. 'My uncle, my dad's youngest brother, brought it home to (my grandmother) when he came back from Korea. 'She had it on her bookshelf for as long as I can remember.'
Her husband's faith in Tuck wasn't misplaced. He got it running in less than five minutes. His diagnosis was that the clock's suspension string wasn't hanging in the appropriate spot.
She hadn't seen the clock work since she was 12. The smile on her face showed she was glad for the tic-toc voice coming from her grandma's clock.
'I guess that's why people keep clocks,' Mrs. Yuergens said. 'For the memories.'

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