|The VAUGHAN Clock
My father, Carl Edwin Vaughan, was not an educated man, but he had a great mind and was a talented mechanic who demonstrated great attention to detail and fantastic troubleshooting skills.
Here was a man who could spend the entire day under the hood of a car, yet come home with perfectly clean hands and not a spot of grease anywhere on him – a trait that is obviously not genetic, as I cannot eat a simple meal without wearing a good portion of it.
My father opened his first automobile garage when he was in his teens, buying old cars for $5 if they had good tires, tearing them down and rebuilding them, sometimes using the parts from two or three junky cars to make one good saleable automobile. His place of business was the back of the house, and when he had bulky things to dispose of – such as old automobile frames – they got buried in the back yard. He remained in the business until the Fire Department closed him down for running a business that was a potential fire hazard in a residential neighborhood.
He honed his skills in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in the Pacific theater of operations, and returning home with numerous serious health problems, and a medical retirement.
Still, he never stopped working – excepts for periods of time when his health issues would gang up on him and put him in the hospital for extended periods of time. It seems as though every 18 months or so he would get checked in to the Chelsea (Mass) Naval Hospital for an extended stay, followed by a fairly long period of rehabilitation at home.
During one of these periods in the late early 1960s he picked up a hobby repairing old clocks. He'd acquire tired, old clocks, and like with the automobiles 40 years earlier, he would lovingly rebuild them, sometimes cannibalizing one set of works for just the right gear or lever. We were living in Arlington, Mass at the time, and I can recall (I was on the cusp of becoming a teenager at that time) all the clock parts in the living room, and about a dozen wall and shelf clocks scattered around the room.
At one point in time my father decided that he wanted to build a clock. He had the works from a silent, pendulum clock that no longer had a case, so he set about designing a new home for the works.
He went to the Salvation Army surplus furniture store and bought a weathered mahogany dining room table for next to nothing, brought it home and cut it up to fabricate the clock case. He acquired a sheet of metal and hand-painted the face, and added the gold trim on the glasswork. The hanging wall clock, when finished, stood about 4 feet tall, and was very eye-catching.
In the latter years of their lives, my mother and father were heavy chain smokers, and the clock became coated with a heavy film of old smoke, and eventually stopped working. The clock came into my possession in the early 1990s, after the passing of my father but before the passing of my mother.
It has been cleaned up, repaired, and hung with pride on my dining room wall. It is the only significant artifact I have of my father.
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