As Time Goes By…
February 17, 2021
Robert along with his wife, Sylvia Weeks, have been residents of Brightmore for seven years. He continues to use his lifelong skills, hobbies and passion as a clock repair person into his senior years. As a result of his passion for clocks, it has directly affected his day-to-day activity during the pandemic.
Can you believe Robert has been a Horologist for 74 years. That is, he has been interested in time and time keeping for 74 years. For that very reason, Robert has been an active clock repair person for 61 years, and has studied under three master clockmakers.
You may ask, “What is Horology?” In Robert’s own words, “Horology is the science of measuring time and is the oldest science. Many early civilizations worshipped the sun, the moon, and the stars, and told time by the passage of the sun and stars across the sky. It is a science that started to be updated back in the days of the Babylonians who came up with the idea of the 60 second minutes and the 60 hours we now use.” This has been a love of Roberts for many years on which he has done much research.
“When I was about seven years old, my dad and granddaddy gave me some old alarm clocks to play with. I took them apart, and then, several years later, I became interested in putting some of these clocks back together. I have been repairing clocks since then.”
“In 1961, I was given a very complicated English Bracket Clock. It has been the biggest challenge. It works well now, but originally needed a lot of work to make it work. In addition, I was one of 12 persons who restored the New Bern, NC, original town clock for the 300th Anniversary in 2012. We worked (dismantling and reconstructing the clock) for four years every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The clock was restored in the New Bern Fire Museum garage and then placed in the New Tryon Palace North Carolina Education Building. The Seth Thomas Manufacturing Company made this clock in 1912. It works today in the New Tryon Palace North Carolina Education Building.”
As for the clock that has the most history behind it, he says, “I continue to repair a Read and Watson Tall Case Clock that is 210 years old. This clock belongs to a retired medical doctor who lives in New Bern, NC. I am one of a few clock repair persons who will work on wooden movement clocks in NC. One of my clocks has a wooden movement, and it is 199 years old. There is also my British Bracket Clock that belonged to the daughter of General Anderson who was in charge of Fort Sumter when the Civil War began. It was made in the 1800’s.”
When asked how continuing working on clocks during the pandemic helps him, this is his answer. “Working on clocks during the pandemic has been great. It has given me something productive to do while staying in our apartment. I have just finished two Seth Thomas Clocks, a Cuckoo Clock. I have one Seth Thomas clock coming in the mail to repair. These projects keep me very busy. I also love to use my skills to help others. I have repaired over 40 clocks for residents in Brightmore over the seven years I have lived here.”
I do believe after seeing Roberts personal shop, hearing the history behind each clock he repairs and the passion behind his work, there is no doubt he will continue this hobby long into his senior years.
“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson