Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cuckoo Clocks Are Neat

German Hand Carved
Cuckoo Clock

Grandma Jackson's Cuckoo Clock

A Guest Post by Charles Pogue

I wasn’t as tall as our neighbor’s pet Whitetail deer fawn, Nancy, when we occasionally piled into the first (and only) new car my parents ever bought, a white 1952 Plymouth. We drove the approximately forty miles to great Grandma Jackson’s house. We didn’t make that trip often, because in those days twenty cent a gallon gasoline was pretty expensive for a struggling farm family. When we did make those rare trips though, along with my brothers and sisters, I counted it as a real treat.

Those trips were special to us kids on account of we were fascinated with the contraption Grandma Jackson had rigged up on her back porch to catch the rain water. That’s all she ever washed her hair in, you know, and she had as fine crop of black hair until the day she died as you would ever hope to see on a lady in her nineties. Grandma Jackson would always be in her rocking chair in her sitting room, and had hugs and kisses for each of us.
Cuckoo Clock
Black Forest House
But there was something else that always excited me about the trip that ended by going up a real high hill right before her house on the left. Hanging on the wall in that same sitting room where our dear old relative spent a lot of her time, was this neat clock that beat all I ever did see.

On the hour a small door opened at the top and little bird stuck out his head and made a very clear “cuckoo” sound. He made that sound as many times as was the hour.

Sometimes we were there at lunchtime and to hear that little bird go cuckoo, cuckoo twelve times was almost more than this little boy’s excitement could handle. 
Since 1850, the most famous cuckoo
clock makers have been from the
Black Forest of Germany.

Black Forest
Cuckoo Clock

As far as I can remember, Grandma Jackson’s cuckoo clock was the first one I ever saw. It was certainly the first one I ever remember seeing, and because of it, I fell in love with these birdhouse-shaped clocks, and anyone else I ever knew who saw one has too.

Long before cuckoo clocks were made in Germany’s Black Forest, an Augsburg nobleman named Phillip Hainhofer, penned a description of the first known cuckoo clock, that was said to be owned by Prince Elector August Van Sachsen.

Since 1850, the most famous cuckoo clock makers have been from the Black Forest of Germany. When one shops for a cuckoo clock, dealers are very sure to make it a real selling point if they can say, “This is a genuine Black Forest Cuckoo Clock.” I made sure that was the case when I bought mine.
Battery Operated
Black Forest Clock
with Quartz Movement
Although there are quartz cuckoo clocks today, give me the real McCoy.

Mechanical cuckoos are pendulum driven. Almost as famous as the bellows that makes the cuckoo sound, are the two weighted chains that hang down from the bottom of the clock. One of these chains runs the clock, while the other one drives the cuckoo.

Cuckoos are available in one or eight day movements and last for many years with minimal maintenance. Dust is the enemy of your cuckoo clock, so every three to seven years it will need to be taken apart, cleaned, and any worn parts replaced. That’s not a lot of maintenance or expense compared to a lot other things, now is it?

Most people may overlook the beauty and joy of cuckoo clocks, but those of us who love them, well, I guess we are just down home folks whose great grandmothers’ washed their hair in rainwater, and man did that hair shine!

Did your grandmother have a cuckoo clock?

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