The Care and Tending of Time

July 30, 2018


My granddaughter will soon be seven months old. Even as I am joyfully present to her, I am a little disoriented. When I gave birth to my own babies—David in 1982 and Robert in 1984—my parents were younger than I am now.  They passed from this life—Dad in 2000, Mother in 2002. Now it’s 2018. Where is their daughter, young mother of boys? And who is this new grandmother? It seems I’m still here. I’m still me, with most of my wits about me! And oh how I wish Mother and Dad could meet their great-granddaughter Amelia.


Time seems to fold on itself. I am trying to keep my balance.  These are not new thoughts! But they are mine.


As a poet I take meaning and solace in particularities, things I can touch. A clock comes to mind. It kept time for many years in the lobby of the Bank of Prescott, Nevada County, Arkansas. My grandfather Robert found employment at the bank around 1919 (he would have been twenty.) Perhaps one of the duties of this tall young man from Texas was to tend and wind the clock. For sure, he served the bank for nigh onto sixty years.


Later the clock kept time for Robert’s son Jim, in his law office. Now it keeps time for Jim’s son Robert, in that same office. I asked my brother to send me a picture. He did:


Knowing he has nothing to do but serve apprentice to his big sister’s curiosity, I next asked him to see if he could find a date of manufacture. No, but he found the manufacturer:

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He also unearthed this news item:


May 9, 1914: The Bank of Prescott is today placing an electric chime clock on the corner of its building which will be very much appreciated by everyone passing. It has large dials facing Elm and Second Streets and the chimes will sound the hour, also each quarter hour. At night it will be illuminated by electric lights.


Further research reveals the clock on the corner is an ‘Eau Claire,’ it cost $800, and it was made by the Peco-McClintock Company, of Hockins, Minnesota.


McClintock Company, of Minnesota.  Hmmm. Whether the clock on the corner is related to the lobby clock I know so well, whether they went into service around the same time, I couldn’t say.


After the bank built new quarters in 1965, the corner clock was restored and reworked and placed on the  grounds of the ‘new’ county courthouse. There it stands to this day, faithfully and accurately keeping time for Prescott, still melodiously chiming the hours. On the occasion of its installation at the courthouse, the Nevada News wrote:


When it was first installed it was the hope of the officials that the chimes would mean something to all our people—that they would have a message for the youngster on his way to school, a thought for the business man who bustles through his day, intent on nothing but the picking up a few dollars, and a solace for the old.


That the chimes would mean something to all our people, as we bustle through our days. It’s good for us, ‘to everyone passing,’ to think on these things.  Also to recall the words of the poet Mary Oliver:  “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”



–sometime pre-clock, between 1904 and 1914



–1936, ready for a parade. (I’m pretty sure it’s 5pm, not 5am)



–bank lobby, sometime in the 1920’s, #2 being my grandfather Robert

Author: Phoebe Dishman

Phoebe H. Dishman was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. An essayist and poet, she teaches adult Sunday school, compiles a monthly prayer calendar, edits the Big Thicket Association quarterly bulletin, and keeps a keen eye and ear open for birds.

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