My parents had a lot of stuff they acquired over a 62-year marriage. They didn’t throw anything out, literally. That was left for the last one standing, me.
This fall will be a year since we sold the house on Blackpoint Road in Rumson. After 13, 20-yard dumpsters were carted off; we were left with a basement of things that had meaning or value. That has been reduced to a couple of handfuls of items that will stay in our family. One is an Elgin Watch I found at the bottom of a box. It didn’t look good, but after I had pieced together its history, I decided to have it restored and repaired.
The watch was given to my grandfather by his wife in 1926. Her initials inscribed next to his inside the case near the guts of the watch and serial number. The case has his initials, VT, a Freemason symbol, and the number 32 etched on the back. Freemasons are a kind of secret society, and one of the most significant fraternal orders still active today. There are several Freemason Lodges here in Monmouth County. Think of help and fellowship. The number thirty-two has Freemason meaning and connotes a Master Mason – which means something to Freemasons but not to those of us not initiated.
I paid a king’s ransom (pun intended) to have it restored. It works well and looks good for a hundred-year-old trench watch. It was used and abused by a veteran, who was a plumber with a curiosity about life. I had a strap made from a shop in Finland, which is perfect. The dial has the 12 facing towards my elbow, which was the style of the time. The design from a time when watches were made more user friendly for those fighting wars.
When you settle an estate and dig through the stuff someone else thought was important enough to keep around, it is good to give pause and try to figure out why. The watch was my grandfather’s, passed to my mom, and made its way to me from the bottom of a dusty metal box. It was never intended for me, or it would have been given to me when everyone associated with it was still alive. But it made its way from an old man’s arm to his favorite grandson. That’s cool.