In Times Square

Tom Schultz

Cuckoo chirping again

Many years ago, when I was maybe 6 or 7, one of my favorite visits was to grandma’s house. Actually is was to both grandmas’ houses because they lived next door to each other over on Hancock Street.

There are many memories from those special days but one of them was my fascination with the cuckoo clock that hung on the wall in the dining room of her home, just before entering the kitchen.

The clock was fascinating, of course, because the little cuckoo bird would pop his head out of the door and cuckoo once for each hour of time it was and also one time for the half hour. Many a time I waited for the bird to come out and make his announcement.

I was also fascinated that the clock needed no electricity. It only had to be wound every few days when the weights got too close to the ground. I even remember one time when someone forgot to reset the weights and the birdie “died” half way through the 11 a.m. hour. There it was hanging out of the little door. I thought for sure it was permanently broken. But, a simple winding and resetting the time made it all work again.

That clock was part of my childhood, but then at some point it did fail to work and it was taken down. I asked about the clock several times over the years but my aunt said she couldn’t recall just what did happen to it. No doubt grandma knew but by then she had passed away.

Then, several years ago, when my aunt moved to assisted living, we were given the task of emptying out her home and preparing it for sale. It was during that process we found the clock in a box in a closet and labeled that when the time came it should stay in our family.

We took it home and because it had not operated for decades, it needed a tune up. After a little Google search, we found “A Gift of Time,” a little mom and pop shop that repairs virtually any kind of clock over in Merton in Waukesha County. One day we took a ride over there and it was just where we needed to be.

The couple was wonderful and they said it was a clock worth saving because it is an authentic German cuckoo clock. We saw it as much more than that. We saw it as a sentimental piece that brings back memories.

They got it all fixed up and we placed it in the living room of our home. The first time our grandkids saw the clock, they were also enamored. We had to lift them up to see the cuckoo close up, but, of course, that was not enough! They wanted to see it cuckoo more often! You know grandparents will do almost anything to make grandkids smile so we just started moving the hands forward an hour at a time and made the little bird work overtime.

The grandkids loved it but it also got the clock out of sync and the hands we were pushing around manually became loose. Yes, I know we should have known better, but grandkids have that way with grandparents.

We also had a problem that when the grandkids would stay overnight, the cuckooing would disrupt their sleep and this particular model would not allow us to shut off the noise during the evening hours. So, the clock went dormant for a couple years.

A month or so ago, we decided it was time to see if we can get the clock working properly again, so off we went to Merton and, of course, that wonderful couple remembered us. The husband took the clock, sat down at a workbench, opened the back door and worked on it all of five minutes, attached the hands securely and told us we were good to go, but also advised us not to make the little bird work more the he was designed to do.

We got it back home and it’s running perfectly. And, as an added bonus, the grandkids are now old enough that they have the patience to see the little birdie do his job only when he’s supposed to, and they now sleep through the night without being disturbed.

It’s a family treasure and one that reminds us all the time of that precious era from the distant past. It will remain with our family for a long, long time.


Recommended for you

Load comments