Ticking Clocks

When I was about four years old Dad drove the family across the mountains of central Washington State to visit his mother who lived southeast of Seattle. I remember little of the trip itself. As a child I suffered so dreadfully from car sickness even the sound of an idling engine would give me the heaves. My place in the car was on the floor in the back, it being the most stable spot. And it was the place from where I would create the least mess should worse come to worst.

I used to think Dad waited till nightfall to take us on family trips but never thought to wonder why. Not long ago he laughed and said it only seemed dark to me, huddled like a mushroom down there on the floor. I was stunned. All these years I’ve put my girls in their pajamas and waited for bedtime to begin a road trip.

Mom, where are we?
Craters of the Moon.
I can’t see anything!
Go back to sleep. I’ll buy postcards.

I have carried on a tradition that wasn’t even traditional. Is that how traditions begin?

I recall Grandma’s house as little more than a tiny kitchen with a bedroom attached. Was it a converted garage? I don’t know where Mom and Dad and the two older girls slept those nights we spent there … perhaps next door at Uncle Mel’s. I do remember we four younger girls all piled into bed with Grandma. The other three were squirmy but it seemed comfy enough to me, especially the part about not being stepped on. I suspect Grandma had grown tired of the wriggling when she softly revealed she had a talking clock. Amazed, we held our breath as she translated …. Go-to-sleep – Go-to-sleep – Go-to-sleep. The clock whispered rhythmically and we did as it directed.

I still use the whispering clock when I’m trying to go back to sleep (another tradition), though I know people who say the ticking keeps them awake. It’s for the ticking-haters I wanted an electric bedside analog clock to put into the guest room. Digital clocks abound but I wanted analog. (Oh the horrors—my grandchildren didn’t know what counterclockwise meant.) I finally found one—a little white squarish clock with a cord and a second-hand to sweep smoothly and silently around the circle once every minute.

Except that, when I plugged it in, it began to tick. This clock ticks just like a battery-operated analog clock! How is that possible? Did someone actually design an electric analog clock that TICKS ??? Why in the world would someone do that? I am totally baffled. And so very disappointed.

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