Sunday, May 01, 2005

Watch maker

I am just now returned from burying a watchmaker, and the world is a little poorer for the experience. He was my uncle, and he understood the delicate interaction of spring tension and momentum that recorded the time on a wrist. His was a craft of tiny gears and wondrous mechanical interaction. There are very few of his kind left and their knowledge will soon pass into the realm of the archaic. We buy watches now that are pretty much disposable, the mega-stores selling them for tiny sums that make them economically inconvenient to repair. Nowadays when a watch breaks, we take it off and throw it away, the disposable refuse of our times.

As far as I know he was the last watchmaker in this area. His expertise was the old Bulova, the Elgin, the Omega. The fat watches that men wore on their wrists or carried in a pocket. There was a time when the central Louisiana area supported a dozen watchmakers, but the continuing march of technology put them in the class of the wagon repairman and the cobbler. They are a vanishing breed, those old men, and I miss the musty shops and the quiet ticking that permeated them. His kind passed us into a disposable society and he didn't grieve over his loss. He embraced the technological advances that his generation invented. In his last years, he learned to use a computer and chided me gently for not sharing more email with pictures of my grandchildren.

I'm gonna miss him.

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