My grandfather loved clocks and watches. So much so, his Dallas, Texas home was well known for its glorious symphony of ticking and chimes.
It's not that Harry was one of those harried men, always wondering what time it was and if he was late for something. No, he loved the sheer presence of a beautifully made timepiece. The craftsmanship of the design, the earthy smell of gears, and especially the process of winding each and every one each and every morning.
Throughout his working days as a salesman and working nights as a parent of three young children, he always came back to those handcrafted works of art and found solace in their constancy and their rhythm.
My mother grew up to the sound of those clocks, and they have been an everlasting and meaningful part of her life ever since.
To this day, she vividly remembers how her father carefully selected which ones to buy. How he would take his time, examine each unique piece minutely, and the unabashed glee he exhibited upon finding one that inspired him with it's beautiful design, craftsmanship, and perfectly balanced pendulum.
As she told me recently: "Is it any wonder then, all these years later, that I still find the sound of a clock comforting? It’s a loving reminder of my father and his constant devotion to our family."
These days, of course, I can pull out my smartphone and let you know what time it is anywhere in the world… as I simultaneously deposit three checks … while watching a video of quintuplets watch a schnauzer play chopsticks on the piano. But even then, in my mind, my grandfather’s classic clocks are still ticking away in the background.
His collection of heirlooms is scattered across America now, as are his children. You can find them in my mother's kitchen, my aunt and uncle's living rooms... and proudly, on my own desk.
For all of us, the clocks remain much more than the sum of their well made parts. Whether it's the effort and care that was put into creating them, or the significance they gained upon being passed down from one generation to the next, all of them continue to tick and chime away, and provide a heartbeat to our family life.
Some of Grandfather Harry's favorite 18th & 19th century American-made clocks
It's this level of quality, craftsmanship, and sense of meaning that we celebrate with Firecracker.
To shine a bright light on those who imbue their creations with heart, soul, and integrity. So as we travel the country, there is nothing better than discovering something special, an object that would have made my grandfather’s eyes light up.
An object, perhaps, that one day will become to another family what his clocks will always be to ours.