Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns

Postcard from the Pines: Time to Fall Back…Again

Sible Clock Fall 1969 Kirsch

I noted this morning that the living room clock, a basic oversized job with a nice face, was exactly an hour slow. It had been right on when we went to bed. Something was amiss here. Time change has not yet occurred. So, I kept track of the time. It was spot on for the first half of the hour, but as the minute hand began the uphill climb, time began to slow. Ah, yes. It was a classic syndrome. A rapidly failing battery would soon enough, be fatal. It’s time for a battery transplant.
Time change and this failure remind me to check all other like powered items. I am always amazed at the number of everyday things requiring, or at least asking for batteries. Clocks and the remotes are the most frequently used, although in different ways. Clock batteries, like those in smoke detectors are always working and are among the most important in the house.
The ‘clickers’ are on demand items with a heavy work schedule, and they let you know when failure is close. Smoke detectors let you know with a most annoying beep. The danger is that batteries are removed and not replaced immediately. Avoid the beeping annoyance and risk of dead detectors by checking those batteries at regular intervals, like time change events.
I keep batteries in my faithful radio, just in case. It’s part of my be prepared and can’t go without it nature. A radio is my faithful companion. We also have a weather radio, which has proven to be a very handy thing. Oddly enough, works the best and clearest when operating on battery power. Apparently too many things in the house interfere electrically. In theory its purpose is to warn us under the worst of weather conditions. As long as it has those batteries, it works like a charm.
So, this weekend, I’ll be going about the house, changing clocks and checking batteries. I already have a short list of things needing replacements, from clocks to toothbrushes and since it draws near, seasonal lighting.
We could still tell the time if the batteries were dead and the power gone. Every day, our old, faithful, wind-up, eight-day, striking clocks tick away and keep the time. And they make a pleasant noise to boot. In all actually, these old ‘relatives’ are very low maintenance. We treat them well; keep them wound, but not too tightly. We keep the dust out of the works and set them in a safe place. My great-grandparents clock has outlived them by 83 years and counting.
Marion’s Don Sible, owner of Sible’s Hardware (1948-about1980), was a clock aficionado, a master of tick-tock. And I do not mean of the internet kind. Sible was a clock lover and had a magic touch when it came to their repair. None was beyond his abilities. He fabricated clock parts, and built cases. They all worked. He regulated until they kept perfect time. His woodworking was as gifted as his repairs. Through the year’s word of his ‘thing for clocks’ spread. Folks brought him clocks to repair and they brought clocks and pieces and parts to sell.
As his collection grew, it spread throughout his Main Street hardware, and one particularly large, public clock even stood on the street for several years. Sible kept a lot of his clocks wound and ticking. There was a steady rhythm of tick-tocks and the din of unsynchronized chiming at each hour. It was fascinating.
Sible’s Hardware became somewhat of an unwilling tourist attraction because of the many and unusual clocks. Don and his wife Esther became reluctant tour guides to clock tourists. There were times when the clock people got in the way of paying customers, which did not set well. Don particularly enjoyed saying “NO!” to persistent little old ladies who wanted to buy clocks.
We’re pretty sure that Don really enjoyed all the notoriety, no matter his gruff demeanor. All in all, he got to have things just the way he liked them. Don and Esther never had a chiming clock in their home. He sold the entire collection to one buyer when he was ready to retire and a couple hundred clocks left town for parts unknown.
If you are of a certain age, you will recall Sible’s clocks, and especially the big one on Main Street. It proudly proclaimed the People’s State Bank, what people we don’t know, and the time from most of its faces, sometimes correctly. In spite of Don’s endless efforts to make it work correctly, the cast iron behemoth was the only clock that beat him. It left town on a flatbed truck.
Don’t forget to “fall back” and check your smoke detectors this weekend Marion, Michigan.

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