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Friday Slide Show: An Old Watch Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

31 May 2019

We were obliged to come up with Dad's Social Security number to investigate some benefit or another Mom might claim. He passed away in 2005 so he couldn't furnish it himself. And we were going a little nuts trying to guess where we might uncover that little bit of information without leaving the house.

Mom sent us to his wardrobe where his personal effects were still stored. "Look in his wallet," she suggested.

And that's where we found it. But not before we saw his watch and ring, two things that made him feel human, he said when, after months in the hospital, he finally returned home and put them on again.

That's not all we found, though. There with his personal effects was a very handsome pocket watch.

We knew he never wore a pocket watch in his life. But when we turned it over the mystery was solved. It was his father's. A Gruen Veri-Thin.

It still had its chain attached although there was no fob. There probably never was a fob. Grandpa was not fancy. He more likely might have had a pen knife on the other end of the chain.

But we don't know.

We don't know much about the watch, frankly. We don't know how he acquired it. Or if he wore it only on special occasions.

We learned long ago the way to enjoy a family heirloom is to photograph it.

When we were in grade school we would spend two weeks each summer at Grandma's house with our cousins. Three or four of us at a time, in batches.

We would love to rummage through the drawers in her sewing machine where buttons seemed like coins or her dresser full of defunct fountain pens or her dressing table with a drawer full of pocket watches.

She wouldn't mind (much) as long as we didn't make a mess. What really annoyed her was when we wasted water on water balloon fights. Our curiosity, in contrast, didn't cost anything.

We don't know but we like to think that, because it was engraved with his name on the back, the watch was a gift. And if it was a gift, we suspect it wasn't from his oldest daughter raising three kids or his only son raising four boys but his youngest daughter who had married a dentist and had no children.

But we're probably confusing stories. She was the one who bought them their first television set. And that was probably enough right there.

We didn't open the case. We don't know if it screws off or pops off. But if we wanted to know more about the watch itself, that's where we'd have to start.

We don't, though.

We wish we knew the story behind it but everyone who knew it has long since passed over to the other side, as we like to put it. Where time isn't even an amusement.

There's only the one watch and there will no doubt be a line of descendants who will want it.

We learned long ago the way to enjoy a family heirloom is to photograph it. A photograph, unlike the real object, can be shared. And, for that matter, requires no maintenance.

So in the subdued light of the bedroom a day later we took a few shots of the watch sitting on a leather topped table. We used a Micro Four Thirds camera with the kit lens and processed this handful of shots in Lightroom Classic, as we usually do.

We spent more time adjusting the white balance than anything else, warming them up a bit. To our surprise we didn't crop them much (well, except for one).

Just in case they had a story of their own to tell.

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