September 19, 2019

This What Is It (indent) is an automobile clock designed to be used in the dash of cars made in the ’20s and ’30s before clocks were an integral part of the equipment. Many of these were made by the Waltham Watch Co. as was pointed out by Ruth Taber. Both she and her husband worked at the Waltham Watch Co. Andrew and their son, A. Keith, are now watchmakers at Taber’s Watch Shop in Bangor. Other correct answers were provided by Harold Dodge of Calais, Lewis Libby of Ellsworth, Edwin Ambrose of Orono, and Morris Slugg of Belfast.

Anne Stuart of Surry sent an interesting story about these car clocks.

“Usually found in more expensive automobiles such as Cadillacs, Pierce Arrows and Daimlers, it fitted into a hole in the dashboard with the stem coming below so that the clock could be wound once a week.

“Circa 1925-26, we had a Cadillac Touring Car with just such a clock. On Sunday morning, one of the six children would be picked to do the honors. First, the face was wiped with a soft chamois. Second, the stem was pulled down to turn the hands and correct any timing error while Dad checked his thin, gold watch on its gold chain. (I don’t remember the clock ever had to be corrected.) Then thirdly, the most important moment of all, a small thumb and forefinger would push the knob back and forth while Daddy counted out loud and then, loudly, `Stop!’

“Would it go on noisily ticking or had you (horror of horrors) over-wound it? If over-wound, it was returned to the factory for repairs, traveling in its own wooden box. Until Grandfather installed the repaired clock, that dreadful round hole stared at the criminal.

“Being naturally thrifty, when the touring car left us, the clock was removed and saved. Years later, whenever the wooden box appeared, I could feel the blush creeping into my white hair and hear the shouts announcing my crime, `Daddy, she’s killed the clock!’ ”

Mail guesses for this week’s What Is It? (below) to the Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329. The item will be identified in this section two weeks from today.

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