“THOSE... Daddy would BUY FOR ME at George Atwood’s store. We’d stop there on the way BACK from the TRAIN. Just in the summer. I bought ONE and read ALL OF IT. I JUST LOVED IT. So much I didn’t know then. ABOUT LOVE. And cowboys. I’ve actually met REAL cowboys NOW. Those cowboys are nothing like the LOVER cowboys in those (magazines) if you know what I mean. A bar of SOAP goes along ways and those REAL cowboys need to learn that.
“Each year when we’d stop Daddy always said ‘Did you get your magazine Helen?’ So I’d buy one. And read it. Each year after reading the first one I cared less about reading them. It wasn’t the same as it was when I read the first one. I was younger and it caught my FANCY. FIVE YEARS LATER ...WHO CARES; I’d grown up to be, I thought... A BIG GIRL. You know what I mean. So I stopped buying them. Daddy never said anything. That’s the way he was. He knew I was getting older.”
Helen had come back to the doorway and I had progressed... only a few liner feet to my left along the back wall. Time and ‘timing out’ was trouble coming fast for I. I was stooping before the ...centered against the back wall... table with the milk glass compote and cottage clock on it. Some books, magazines and old paper were stacked neatly just slightly ‘in-under’ the table on the floor. I had started to inspect this stack without moving it and... about four inches down, exposed these... five issues in... crisp and bright ‘long protected’ condition... of... RANGELAND ROMANCES ...magazine (1949-1953; one for each year). A sensitive half-second it took I to KNOW these were HERS; Helen’s cache ...of her young girl reading. It’s a dirty pool but I... hearing her return to ... BOTHER ME... countered her ‘I’m back’ doorway poise by tossing the neat stack on to the open floor behind me... with the top wrapper title facing her. BOOM: out came her ...heritage... story. I said nothing... but ...finished working-for-the-day... after inspecting to the bottom of the paper stack. I did not... reach behind me and retrieve the five magazines to ...place them back EXACTLY where I’d found them...: ‘Who cares’.
(Magazine four count (art merit, antique merit, history merit, heritage merit) score card: Heritage; Helen read them when a little girl... and... the same as every other reader... she was. The store stop-daddy buys-summer tale... is cute. But who... really cares? History; low rent hack written ‘love story’ ‘cowboy’ mid 20th century junk prose that is unreadable to anyone other than... 1950 era... 10-12 year old girls WITH COLOR GRAPHIC eye candy cover ...but no further ‘serious’ interest: Who cares? Antiquarian merit delights in the cover graphics and crisp condition but would never even ‘try to read it’ AND denotes ‘very fragile’ (brittle lowest grade paper stock perishing ‘each second’) state of the whole including storage concerns... problems and ‘sun fading’ (exposure to ANY LIGHT). Yeah; they were being perfectly preserved four inches down in the stack where I found them and I... I... have just compromised that by... not ‘putting them back where I found them’. Art merit; eye candy color cover graphic ONLY with modest color and abstract composition considerations that... well... DOES GRAB the eye ...at first... and then softly fades away [as ‘art interest’] as the history-antiquarian scores ...draw off interest as ‘art’ because... ‘they [the covers] are what they are’ TOO and... therefore... who cares... past being... a little nip of ‘art’. Total it up: The five issue lot has a LOW price in the market because ... for a LOW PRICE they are ‘HEY NEAT’ for a few minutes displayed on a side table of a Brooklyn NY apartment and then... who cares... and someone spills a glass of wine on them. ‘Cash now’ translation to all of this; two bucks each I’ll pay to sell really fast for four bucks each REALLY FAST; “bye-gone” due to... ‘storage issues’. As ‘stock’ they are a storage time bomb... and ‘everyone’ ‘in the market’ KNOWS IT. And... ‘don’t need that around’ so... who cares.)
I stood up straight. Facing the cottage clock. I picked up the cottage clock. For no particular reason. I heard its pendulum clunk in the bottom of the clock case. It wasn’t attached to the movement. “THAT Daddy brought BACK from the DEER CAMP he and the ANDERSON BROTHERS went to every year to FIX IT. It used to work at the CAMP but stopped working so he brought it BACK HERE TO FIX. It wasn’t HIS; HE TOOK IT. From the CAMP. They WENT THERE EVERY year. So..”
“Calais (Maine)?” I said reading a small vendor’s label on the back of the clock. “Milltown” was the actual address. That, for those pressing for accuracy is ‘across the river’ from Calais ‘in Canada’.
“THERE was a HUNTING CAMP NEAR THERE they STAYED AT” continued Helen. “Naturally HE NEVER FIXED IT. AUNT MINNIE: SHE HAD II FIXED. BUT IT NEVER WORKED. It was stupid. THEN SHE’D HAVE IT FIXED AGAIN. And it would stop working after a little while. SEE? So it’s always be kicking around here. LIKE THAT: IT DOESN’T WORK. How much is THAT worth”
“Worth? Well... you can see ‘em around for... like... sixty five... maybe one-twenty-five but, you know... they don’t sell. Just sit there. So... ME? You know... ah... thirty at the most. Not even that. To me.” “Thirty? Dollars? That’s....” Helen said and trailed off. I didn’t say anything but still held the clock in my hands. I looked at the center of the dial where the hands were pinned in place. I could see a ‘new pin’. I opened the door and looked up into the movement. To get to that someone would take the dial off but I could see that the movement had been... ‘cleaned’... in an effort to make the clock... go tick-tock. In fact, the ‘cleaning’ was in perfect condition showing that the clock had never been ‘run’ since it was ‘cleaned’. What that means commercially is that it is probably still ‘ready to go’ so does not need to be... ‘cleaned’. Again. But... who cares? I set the clock back down... exactly where it had been. I could feel Helen watching me do this. “Who cares".
(“Cottage” type shelf clock four count [art merit, antique merit, history merit, heritage merit] score card: Heritage; ‘swiped’ clock from dear deer camp ‘to fix it’ and fails to do this or return the clock ...saga heard a million times... in a million years. Daughter discovers ‘neat old clock’ kicking around the house and... too... wants it to go tick-tock so ...does have it fixed. Clock fails to go tick-tock well so is, again, abandoned to ‘kick around’ estate. Who cares... so has zero heritage merit. History; cottage type shelf clocks are the last breath of the... actually substantive southern New England [Connecticut] ‘timepiece’ and ‘peddler’s wagon’ industry that ‘sprung up’ [clock spring – ‘ha, ha’] with their cheap do-not-EVER- work [well] wooden or stamped brass ‘movements’. These tiny cottage clocks are found... truly... kicking around... in old New England estates. They were the cheapest clock on the peddler’s wagon. If they were a ‘better’ and ‘bigger’ ‘older’ shelf clock... they’d be... ah... shall we say... ‘better preserved’... in one way or another or... et al. These little cottage cuties historically appear most noticed... in 19th century English and American (New England) genre paintings of domestic cottage interiors where... and notice this pleasing supple detail... they are portrayed most often as on a fireplace mantel... OFF CENTER; a sort of ...stuck up there wrist watch of a timepiece used by the those of the interior to... ‘know what time it is’. That, to my studious notice, is their most prominent ‘be there’. So actually here at Helen’s... placed (kicking around) on the table... not working... IS THE CORRECT WAY... to display the cottage clock in the... old traditional New England estate... manor... now mostly ‘not know of’ or ‘forgotten about’ (both the cottage clock and its display). Historical merit IS that there IS a little something there about these ‘cottage’ ‘timepieces’ and their ‘movement’ that DOES merit ‘knowing about’ but... the reality is ...who cares.
Antiquarian merit? “HA, HA” for the ‘clock collector’ considers these as... clock specimens to collect... to be a ‘nothing’ ‘price buy [cheap] only’ do not decorated with or show off or ...show to friends or other clock collectors and ...most often with them [clock collectors] are found ‘abandoned’ after being partially and unskillfully taken apart... ‘to fix’. This is not an original setting for cottage clocks in old New England and is considered by ME to be a destruction by dismemberment ‘destroyed the clock’. But since... ‘who cares’... who cares?
Art... merit... for art sake – the abstract art qualities... is... from my working experience... a real stretch to... getting any ‘art people’ to ‘get it’ about these forlorn sweethearts being... art. WELL IF ONE DOES put the history merit on top of the actual clock and wave a wand over that saying ‘Civil War Era’ over and over as a mantra-chant... there is a FAINT chance that the engaged-this-way arty will ‘feel faint’ about ‘it’ [the cottage clock] being ‘art’. So... try hunting that quality person down... and therefore so... who cares. Total all this up: These cottage clock are really lost; ‘pitched’, ‘up side down’, ‘not known of’, ‘forgotten about’... while being very traditional old New England estate contents ‘FROM MY GRANDMOTHER’ ‘style’ ‘inclusions’. Cash notice: Probably ought to ‘pick one off’ [to display as ‘grandmother’s’ in ...your old New England home the next time one... is in front of you ‘cheap’.... huh? Doing that is... actually... harder than one would ‘think’... especially since ‘no one’ knows... and are ‘who cares’.