|On my brother's wall|
At some point during those first years at Windswept, my father came into the possession of a old ship's bell clock that has become a family heirloom. My brother Buz inherited it, and he has it hanging in his hallway. The clock has a very interesting series of bells, because of the way maritime ships kept track of watches. I found an intriguing tale on Wikipedia of how it came about. Watches were four hours long, and every half hour a 30-minute hourglass was turned over and a bell was struck. At the beginning of the watch, one bell was struck, with another added each half hour until eight bells were reached. A person standing watch could tell where he was in his watch by listening to the bells. Each even number was on the hour, an odd number on the half hour. Each four-hour watch had a name, such as First Watch, Middle Watch, Morning Watch, etc. As mechanical clocks were developed, this bell pattern was transferred into ship's bell clocks. At the end of a watch, the sailor would say, "Eight bells and all's well."
Last night I woke hearing the bells strike three times. I knew that it was probably 1:30 am, since it was either that or 5:30 am, and by the way I felt I thought I hadn't been asleep all night. It brought back all those times I had visited my parents at Windswept over the years, listening to the clock strike and trying to figure out what time it was. I wonder if I would ever have known about ship's bell clocks if it had not been for this heirloom. Probably not. From that Wikipedia link:
If a ship's name is changed, maritime tradition is that the original bell carrying the original name will remain with the vessel. A ship's bell is a prized possession when a ship is broken up and often provides the only positive means of identification in the case of a shipwreck.The ship from which this ship's clock came from is lost to us now, but being here in my brother's house and hearing it once again has opened up a floodgate of memories.