Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Retiring my old clock radio

My Grandmother, "Mom Mim," got me this clock radio back when I was in about the third grade. If I'm not mistaken it was a birthday gift. Note the faux wood that was all the rage back then. It was packed with features like a digital clock with green numbers, an AM/FM radio, as well as an alarm (with snooze!) that I could switch to either wake me with the radio playing or just have it buzz at me. It's probably @1980 model clock if I had to guess

It's been a good clock for me, but it's now time to retire it. The radio on/off long ago broke long ago (although I could listen to the radio using the snooze button), and alot of the buttons were sticky, but the alarm switch was still functional so I've used it up to now - probably for nearly 30 years - as I'm almost 40 yrs old. Lately the alarm switch has started slipping too and won't stay on, so I'm going to have to retire it.

It's strange the thoughts you attach to something old that spans different parts of your life, and it's really kindof sad to decommission the old clock. My youngest memories of the clock are of twisting the radio dial and listening to all the different radio channels out there. When I was young I remember finding the oldies channel in Louisville and listening to all the old rock-n-roll songs I'd never heard. That was back in the day when the announcer would introduce the songs, or break in at the end of the song to tell you who the artist was. Near the clock I kept a notebook paper list of my favorite oldies songs as I learned them. Songs like Don McLean's "American Pie", Otis Reddings "Sitting by the Dock of the Bay", The Turtles "Happy Together", Tommy Roe "Dizzy", or The McCoy's "Hang on Sloopy." The list gradually grew very long and I remember trying to rank the songs every once in a while. The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" always ended near the top of my list.

Looking at the clock also makes me think of waking up very early for certain trips, like getting up early to go on my first "caving" trip one weekend with teachers and friends at elementary school, or getting up early to go on my first fishing trip that used a boat at Lake Cumberland.

In college it kept me on schedule I guess, although I gotta admit I almost never made it to that 8:00 chemistry class. I could blame my roomate Kyle, but we were just too lazy for our own good. Luckily the bookstore had good study guides and we made it through fine, but as a lesson to all youngsters out there: Never schedule an 8:00 college class - you won't make it. The 7:30 labs on Friday were mandatory or we probably wouldn't have made it to those either.

As I've grown older the clock has always been there glowing dimly by my head almost every night. I'd gotten so good at turning the alarm off that I could almost do it without waking up. Maybe that's why I usually tend to be a little late for work.

But mainly I think I like the old clock because it was a gift from my grandmother. I was a little fella when she got it for me, but in a way it represents the support and expectations that helped me get from there to here over the course of 30-odd years.

My wife got me a new alarm clock today. Makes me wonder what new thoughts I'll attach to it. What stories it will preside over. And I wonder whether it'll outlast me.


Danny said...

I'm still using my alarm clock from middle school(late 80's), despite having received two newer ones as gifts since then. It was cutting edge at the time because it had a tape deck.

My dad may have you beat. He still uses one of the old wood-grain models where the numbers flip inside of it.

Button Fuzz said...

Yes! The flip number clocks. How do they make them move so fast? I can't blink as fast as the time changes on those things.