I may have mentioned before that I have very few keepsakes from my Dad. I have a few tools, a couple of things he carved, a very simple plywood desk with very retro hairpin legs, a silver medal of St. Christopher that I wear, a couple of tie clips, and a wristwatch.
The wristwatch was one of those things I just couldn’t throw away. There was a time when I remember that it seemed useless repairing watches and I did not even keep my graduation watch, an Elgin self-winding watch, that I really loved.
I kept my Dad’s watch.
I gave it to Mr. Hertelendy some twenty or so years ago and he somehow put it back together. When I gave it to him, the minute and second hands were dislodged, the face yellowed and looking like a goner, and it wasn’t working at all.
Mr. Hertelendy surprised me and took this watch that has seen a lot, and put it together. It worked (it is obviously a mechanical watch and must be wound) for those twenty years. I was afraid to let it out of my sight and therefore didn’t even take it in for cleaning.
Then I noticed it wasn’t keeping time. I took it in to Mr. Hertelendy. For months I heard nothing, although that is pretty normal. I finally went in and found out that he hadn’t worked on it and told me that his age and his Parkinson’s disease had meant that he couldn’t do it. I wish he had called me.
I ended up taking it to a local guy, a guy who brags of being the latest of many generations of watchmakers, a man with a new shop in Northbrook.
He kept me hanging all summer.
I would go in and he would complain that the previous watchmaker had damaged it. Now that I think about it, it is possible that poor Mr. Hertelendy had opened it up and not been able to proceed and perhaps had done that, although I am very surprised that this very honorable man did not tell me.
My new watchmaker would say that it would be ready the following Monday. Then I would go in and he would say that he was unable to work on it since he had so many people come in for battery changes.
This went on for months.
Needless to say, I am not happy.
I finally started calling him every day and pretty much embarrassed him into finally finishing it. It was awkward to say the least. When he finally finished it, and it took months, he realized he had forgotten the price he had given me. I told him the amount he had quoted and was waiting for him to argue that he had spent so much time that it should be more. Luckily, he did not.
He did tell me to keep an eye on it and if it were not keeping time, I should bring it back in. I have been wearing it ever since, for the past few days, and it is looking and working like a charm. I really hope I don’t have to take it to him since I really don’t care for his lack of business sense and his inability to organize his work and do it in the proper order. Basically, he took advantage of me, but I felt as if he had kidnapped my watch.
Meanwhile, my father’s watch, a Mathey-Tissot Swiss watch that his step-mother, Anna Lippoi Koerner bought for him for his graduation from high school has served him and me well.