First Person Singular: Donny Sobel

(Joshua Roberts - )

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

The human and the old gear-and-pendulum clock can be parallel: When they age, they both wear out. They can both get cranky and creaky and balky, and the face of both can cruelly reflect the echo of old age. The human cannot defy death, but the clock can. That would be my job.

A human made every part of a clock; ergo, a capable clockmaker can replace any part of a clock. Often, you need more than know-how -- you need to fully comprehend your craft.

A few people may be unhappy to learn that nearly any old clock can be rejuvenated and made to work. They'll have an elegant bracket clock or mantel clock or banjo clock from the era of Napoleon, a clock of beauty and often of great value, and yet they'll want me to take out the old, worn handcrafted metal movement, to be replaced by a cheap battery-powered quartz one. At that juncture, my job can become awkward. My job can be to tell them very, very gently and tactfully. . . no. Not gonna happen, not on my watch. (No pun; fact only.)

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