2018-09-05 / Editorials

Love that clock

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

I don’t remember how old I was when I first noticed the old clock on my grandmother’s mantle. Probably no more than 5 or 6.

She’d had the clock for a long time — it had survived a fire at the family’s motor court years earlier — but somewhere along the line, the clock stopped working. No one in the family can remember exactly when it stopped working or why my grandmother never bothered to have it fixed. The best guess is there was no one in small-town Cordele who could fix it for her.

But she liked the clock enough to keep it sitting on the mantle, even if it no longer kept time. So there it sat, for years, set to 5 o’clock.

There was just one rule at my grandmother’s house: Don’t drink the last Coca-Cola. That’s because she wanted to be sure there was at least one Coke in the refrigerator when she woke up in the morning.

My grandmother started nearly every day of her life with one of those six-and-a-half ounce jewels. As soon as her feet hit the floor in the morning, she headed straight for the refrigerator.

I don’t really know for how long my grandmother started each morning with a Coca- Cola, but I suspect it was for as long as she smoked unfiltered Camel cigarettes because I rarely saw her doing one without the other.

I don’t know what would have happened if someone drank the last Coke because, to my knowledge, no one was ever brave enough to try it. I suppose, though, that it’s possible I have a long-lost cousin who disappeared under mysterious circumstances after failing to heed the Last Coke Warning.

My grandmother also liked to mix a little bourbon with her Coke every afternoon at 5, and she often had friends over to enjoy one with her.

She’s also at least partially responsible for my love of good bourbon. We were visiting my grandmother when I was about 2. I had a horrible cough that my mother couldn’t seem to do anything about. So my grandmother mixed up a little bourbon and sugar in a teaspoon and gave it to me. It stopped my cough.

Of course, that was in the days before the juvenile authorities would show up at your house for giving your grandkid a shot of bourbon.

So as I got older, I began to understand why she chose 5 o’clock. I fell in love with that clock and the gentle humor behind the time at which it has been set. It must have sat on that mantle, not ticking or chiming, for more than two decades.

When my grandmother died, I wanted the clock. But my Aunt Cissy got it instead, and she and her husband, Raleigh, a clock aficionado, repaired the clock and put it on their mantle, where it has chimed every quarter hour since.

Cissy told me for years that I could have the clock when she died, and I playfully teased her that the first thing I was going to do when I got was break it and set it for 5 o’clock.

Well, Cissy died recently, and now I have the clock. I didn’t break it. I just haven’t wound it. It sits on my bar, still set for 5 o’clock, in honor of my grandmother.

So the next time someone tells you that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, you can tell them you know where somewhere is. My house.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/blog/mitch.

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