Second Time Around
by June Capossela Kempf
There it was: perched on a chair in a Saint James, Long Island yard sale. As soon as I saw it, I recognized it. It used to be mine. It was the same clock I threw out three years ago two towns away in Northport– actually put it out on the curb - in a down-sizing panic attack - and regretted doing so ever since.
It is not a rare phenomenon that items of value often wind up tossed to the curb, only to be rescued in the early hours of the next morning by a guy in a pick-up truck. In this case, the guy was a local resident named Sam, who regularly combs the streets of these North Shore communities, seeking trash to turn into treasure. Sam belongs to a set of intrepid entrepreneurs who arise before dawn to search for discarded items - long before the sanitation department has trucks ready to roll. Sam is constantly amazed at the good stuff people just throw away. He and his ilk take pride in restoring what they find in the gutters, and love to bring back life and value to these decrepit pieces of junk, proving the adage: One man’s junk is another’s treasure. I never gave much thought to what happens after that transformation occurs. I assumed that they sell these items to some of the antique dealers that dot historic Route 25A and hope to turn a well deserved profit for their hard work and restoration skills. I would never expect to find my clock being sold in a garage sale.
My clock was merely a replica of an old Register school house wall clock – battery operated - in itself, no treasure. There must be a million of them scattered in antique shops and estate sales all over the country. This clock was encased by a solid oak frame. The top part surrounding the clock’s face was octagonal. The lower section which resembled an arrow, extended to enclose a brass pendulum. In addition, there was a tiny music box attached to the back of the casing that you could program to play eight different tunes. I had chosen the classic Westminster Chimes to announce the hours in my old house. That melody brought a sense of peace and order that I found comforting –especially during some restless nighttime hours.
I had it prominently displayed in my hallway, where it served as a conversation piece. It never failed to stimulate interest, especially when I revealed that it once hung in a Santa Fe train station. It had the logo of the Santa Fe RR etched in the concave glass that covered its face. More remarkable: It once belonged to John Denver who gifted it to a friend - who in-turn regifted to us. That’s what made it special to me, but without any proof, American Pickers would challenge that claim and drive down the value in a heartbeat. Who cares? I know.
For twenty years it remained in its place, molly-bolted to the wall. It held steady through two hurricanes, a reconstruct and a mini-earthquake. It never once budged until we signed the contract on the sale of our house. Then, on that very day, it mysteriously detached itself from the wall and fell to the floor with a booming crash.
“There is no way,” my husband, Ron said, “That this clock could just fall off the wall…I can’t figure it out. You didn’t try to take it down did you?” he dared to ask. He remounted it again and the clock behaved until the new buyers came to take measurements.
“Are you taking the clock with you?” they asked.
“Let me think about it.”
While we debated, the decision was made for us. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, another loud crash woke us from another deep sleep. This time the clock self destructed. The glass covering its face shattered. The pendulum dislodged and the casing split into three pieces. While the hook on the back of the clock remained intact, the little music box shot across the hall, disappearing into a heating duct – leaving a small square pinkish scar on the back of the casing. The clock was done as far as I could see – totally unsalvageable. Since we were moving very soon, we had no time to deal with it, so the antique ‘regulator clock’ got kicked to the curb. Just how did it get to this location and how did I happen upon it, in its restored state?
I questioned Sam intensely. I had to know how he came to possess this particular piece. I wondered why he would be offering it for sale in this venue. He explained that he got it for nothing, He enjoyed restoring it and like the Geico commercial goes, he added, “That’s what I do.” He explained that his workshop was crowded and cluttered. He wanted to clear the area and he thought this was the quickest way to unload the clock and maybe make a few dollars on it. There was a hint of urgency in his voice.
“Unload it. Did you say?”
“You can have it for $50.00,” he said.
“Are you sure that’s the same clock?” Ron said. I picked it up and turned it over to examine it very carefully. It took me about a second to spot the little pink scar from the music box on the back of the clock.
This was my clock.
I said nothing, mulling over the situation, thinking that if we had kept it and attempted to have it restored ourselves, it would easily cost that much. Hubby was thinking, $50 bucks to buy back our own clock?
“There must be a reason that we are here,” I said. “There is some kind of unexplained force that brought us to this property at this moment before it got snatched up by someone else… It seems to be calling out, I belong to you,” I said to a face with rolling eyes.
“You didn’t want it remember,” he said.
“Only because it was broken,” I replied.
Sam could stand no more of this. He may have thought our bickering was staged to drive the price down or that he was dealing with a nut job that he wanted off his property ASAP!
“Obviously,” he nervously laughed. “Your clock is possessed by a very powerful spirit - one that has…” He paused, took a deep breath, and then picked the clock up in his arms eagerly pushing it at me. “Forty bucks,” he said. “And it’s yours.” He ran into his garage to fetch a soft blanket. “You can wrap this blanket around your clock. Here, take it!”
We lovingly wrapped it in the blanket, placed it in the trunk and brought it to our new home to hang it in our new hall.
“Make sure you mount it securely, “I told Ron when we got it home - again, the eyes rolled.
Ron hung it in an empty spot that had been begging for the right wall hanging which would make the correct decorative statement. We stood back marveling at how perfectly it fit in and how incredibly weird the entire transaction went down.
“You know,” Ron said “I think that Sam would have given it to us if you didn’t accept his final offer.”
“Yeah, he seemed so anxious to ‘unload’ it.”
“Maybe he had a hard time restoring it.”
Maybe the clock gave him a hard time, I thought
As the evening wore on, the clock ticked away like a purring engine. It continued to run smoothly and quietly right to the midnight hour when once again we were rudely awakened. This time we were struck by a strange unexpected resonance. “Did you hear that?”
We both recognized that old familiar sound - that haunting melody of Westminster Chimes gently echoing through the house, heralding its joyful message: