Did you get a watch for Christmas? If you did, I bet it was digital. And I bet it wasn’t a pocket watch either. I remember when men had pocket watches. They placed them in the watch pockets of their pants, or the bib of their overalls. Most of them had fobs attached to them, decorative objects hanging outside the pocket allowing the users to quick draw when asked for the time. Sadly, they were replaced by wrist watches. I know that some people pay big money to wear a fancy wrist watch as jewelry; but to me, they can’t replace the eye-popping beauty of a gold plated pocket watch.
I found one once on the shoulder of the highway. Wow! I thought I had made the big time. But a man stopped at my great aunt’s and asked if she knew anybody who found the watch he lost while changing a tire. He gave a dime reward for finding it, and bawled me out for not answering his ad in the Lost and Found in the Minneapolis paper. I told him I didn’t even know Minneapolis had a paper. All we ever got in Mendota was the St. Paul paper. He could’t believe we didn’t get the Minneapolis paper, and threatened to take back the dime for sassing him. When he raised his voice, my dog growled. The man quickly got into his car.
When wrist watches were first introduced they just told time, later the day and date were added. Stem winding became self winding, finally battery operated. Now they fight to remain relevant by adding features that appeal to certain groups. You can buy one to tell you the depth of your sea dive, the altitude of your sky dive, your temperature and pulse rate. A friend of mine has one that controls the functions of his two hearing aids. It gets harder to find one that simply tells the time.
Recently, I see where reality finally caught up with fiction. In 1946, Dick Tracy, the foremost cartoon policeman, had a two-way wrist radio to talk to the other policemen. In 1964, they were upgraded to wrist TVs Now we have wrist radios, aka smart phones, worn on the wrists.
A few years ago I needed a new watch. I found the perfect one. It has a large old fashion face. with 12 LARGE numbers, two hands and a stem to set the correct time. It runs on a battery, which I like: press the stem and it lights up, which is handy:and while it does have a small insert with the day and date, I have never bothered to fool with that function.
When I finally found my perfect watch, I paid for it, put it on and walked away. The young clerk reminded me that I did not take the instruction book. “Miss,” I said, politely, “If I thought I needed an instruction book for this watch, I would never have bought it.”
Old Hand of Oakdale:
I had gotten out of the car when a well dressed young man asked me if I could tell him the time. I told him it was ten to four. He looked puzzled. “I don’t understand,” he said politely.
My first instinct was to repeat what I said, only louder and clearer. But then I realized that this young man only knew how to tell time digitally. “It’s three fifty,” I told him. He smiled, thanked me, and went on his way.
We are constantly bombarded with new words, such as ‘phish’, or new meanings of old words, such as ‘catfish’. We even have to learn a new language, ‘texting’. And we are seeing phrases as old as time, being rendered as archaic as Shakespeare’s English. Phrases such as ‘ten to’, ‘quarter after’, ‘half passed’, are used only by those of us raised before the digital age.
As for me, I find these phrases much more pleasant to the ear than saying something like three fifty. But then, for me, some habits are hard to break. Often I find myself calling a refrigerator, an icebox.
Published SPPP, Bulletin Board 4/22/13
Darn! I wonder whatever happened to my Mickey Mouse watch. I suppose like my old baseball cards, my mother threw that old watch in the trash.