Photo of George Rapanos George Rapanos: A Quest for Religious Transformation
The mind is forever yearning,
In this world of turmoil and strife.
Those who see beyond the horizon,
Are aware of eternal life.

- George Rapanos

The Grandfather Clock and Me

There is this clock. Yes, there is this clock. That is the essence of it. A grandfather clock. It is over one hundred years old and stands eight and one-half feet tall. I've seen many clocks in my time and believe me, this is a clock. No other clock or time piece is made the same as this clock. It has lion feet with a half animal and half man's face carved at the base. The wooden case that holds the pendulum and three weights, that are the heart of its entity, display ornate decorations. Above the beveled glass door is a carving of some sort of animal. The face of the clock indicates the seconds, minutes and hours of the day. The clock has different settings for its chimes. You have a choice either to strike the hour with or without the chimes or play the chimes every quarter, half, three quarters or hour with Whittington or Westminster chimes. Above the painting, that indicates the phases of the moon, is carved the face of father time.

This clock has made a profound impression on me by its ethereal beauty. Even though this clock is made of wood and metal, I am in love with it. Do I love this clock because of the pride of ownership or do I love this clock because it represents a spiritual apparition? At times when I hear the clock chime, suddenly there is no I, and no clock, just the chiming. Most men will see this clock in its physical form, but only a few will look upon its supernatural dimension and experience its transcendental nature.

Am I obsessed with this clock? Is this clock merely an image of what lies beyond its existence? Does it symbolize something greater than itself? To me, the essence of this clock represents divine beauty revealed through the image of its physical form.

The clock first came to my attention on a day when I had some real estate business with Fred Minzer. As I entered into his office, there was this clock. Yes, there was this clock. I was mesmerized by its beauty. It stood majestically behind Fred's desk. I asked him on that day and many days, months, and years after that, if he wanted to sell the clock.

Fred told me that during the great depression his grandfather would not sell the grandfather clock under any circumstances even though at times he was destitute and in great need of money. Fred like his father and grandfather before him would also not consider selling the clock.

Am I obsessed with this clock? Is this clock merely an image of what lies beyond its existence? Does it symbolizes something greater than itself? To me, the essence of this clock represents divine beauty revealed through the image of its physical form.

This clock kept time for Fred Minzer for many years. It kept time for his father and grandfather before him. What can I say about this clock? The essence of this grandfather clock is like the string that holds a necklace of pearls together, having no beginning or end, with each pearl representing a different time in its existence. One pearl represents Fred Minzer's grandfather, the past. Another pearl represents Fred Minzer's father, the past. Another represents Fred himself, the past, and one pearl represents the author of this missive, the present, and there are many pearls yet to come, the future.

Years pasted and I finally decided to alleviate my responsibilities in my business affairs so I could, after many years, pursue a challenge, to myself, and complete the remaining six months of my pharmacy apprenticeship and become a registered pharmacist. I took a position at the Midland Hospital, and after working there for some time I became aware that Fred was a patient there. I went up to see him and after awhile the conversation centered on this clock. I told him that I would give him a certain amount of money each month for the rest of his life, if he would sell me the clock. He looked at me puzzled and said, "Do you know something I don't know? Why such a generous offer? Do you think I'm going to die soon?" We laughed, and he again told me the clock was not for sale.

I then went to see Ralph Bower, my attorney, who was also a patient in the hospital. After some time, I told him that Fred Minzer, a friend of his, was across the hall, and he had a clock that I and many others were trying to buy for many years, but he would not sell. Ralph told me that Fred could use the money and he could not understand why he would not sell the clock. I asked Ralph if he would act as my agent and see if he could persuade Fred to sell me the clock. Ralph said he would and many weeks after his and Fred's discharge from the hospital, I called Ralph and asked him if he had contacted Fred. He said that he had and he didn't want to sell.

A year passed by, and I called Ralph and asked him to try again. He called me back and said Fred wanted to know what I would pay for it. I told Ralph that we should get it appraised and I would pay the appraised value. He called me back and said that was fine with Fred and I proceeded to acquire the appraisal. When I received it, I sent the documents to Ralph and after some time, I called him wondering why Fred wasn't going through with the transaction. He said that he called Fred, and Fred told him that he wasn't willing to sell the clock at this time.

Many years later, Fred asked me to go fishing with him. When we were fishing, I noticed that he was wearing a very dirty denim pants and jacket and a T-shirt that was not only dirty but had holes in it. He told me they were his fishing clothes and in that shape because they brought him good luck. As we were fishing I told Fred I was offered the part of Mr. Allen in the Theater Guild's play "Dark of the Moon." Mr. Allen was a mountain man and had a daughter by the name of Barbara Allen played by Jan Mann who was my age. Since I was playing her father, I needed something to make me look older, so I had grown a beard and asked Fred if I could borrow his cloths so I could look the part. He said that would be fine with him.

When we arrived at his house Fred was about to throw his cloths into the washer. I quickly stopped him and told him that it was not necessary because Mr. Allen was a mountain man and undoubtedly his clothes would also have been in that condition.

When I walked into the kitchen I saw Fred's clock. An eight and one-half foot clock standing, at an angle next to the range, in a room with only an eight foot high ceiling. The clock had paint spatters all over it. I asked Fred why was it in the kitchen and how did it get in that condition? He said he did not have an office anymore and had to bring the clock home, and the painter who painted the kitchen was not careful. I again asked him if he wanted to sell the clock and again he said no. He stated that he liked looking at it. I told him if he sold it to me, I would repair it and bring it back to its original beauty, and he could come over to my house and look at it any time he liked. My efforts were again in vain.

Many years later I received a call from Fred. He said, "George, if you want to buy my clock, you must have the money on my table by three o'clock or I will sell it to someone else." I was now desperate. I did not want to lose this clock. I was having financial problems at the time and had borrowed my limit at the Chemical Bank. I attempted to borrow a small amount a few days before and was turned down. I did not know who to turn to, so I went again to the Chemical Bank and saw Alan Ott, the president and also my neighbor. I told him I was desperate and needed some money. I told him the amount of money I needed and I was very surprised when Alan said O.K. and proceeded to type out the note. As he was typing, he asked me what the money was to be used for. I told him, "There is this clock, and I want to buy it." I will not forget the expression on his face when he turned around and said "You have to be kidding." I said, "Not if you saw this clock." I finally purchased the clock.

Jim Arnold and many others were also attempting to purchase this clock. Jim and I were on the board of directors of the Midland County Rehabilitation Services for the Handicapped. Les Willet, president at the time, nominated me as chairman of the building committee, and I selected Jim to work with me in raising the funds for a new building. As time went on, we chose others to work with us in constructing a new building, now located on Wexford St. At one of the board meetings I told Jim I had purchased the clock. He was very disappointed because he said, he had wanted to buy this clock for many years.

When I brought the clock home, I quickly began removing the white paint spattered all over it. I applied an ample amount of furniture oil to bring the luster of the wood back to life, and to its original state. The mechanical parts of the clock also needed to be repaired. While I was cleaning the clock, I saw a business card attached to the inside of the cabinet, and decided to call that repair man. The person that answered the telephone told me he had been retired for many years and was not repairing clocks anymore. He asked me to describe the clock, and when I did, he stated he was very familiar with this clock. He said because of this particular clock he would be willing to come and look at it. When the repair man came over, I saw he was a very old man. I asked him when he had last worked on this clock, and he told me it was more than twenty years ago. I was fortunate that at his age, he was willing to work on it again.

When I look at this clock I recall memories of its past and a feeling of sadness and longing floods my soul. I think of those fellow travelers who preceded me; whose distant footsteps echo through the corridors of time. I think of Fred and the others and it saddens me, but thinking of them again brings me pleasure too.

The grandfather clock now stand majestically in my living room which I had built especially for its eight and one-half foot height. For me, the clock symbolizes the ages of man gliding away, one by one. The pendulum of time ticking away funeral marches to the grave. Our friends depart as time goes by, and when I am gone others will plod on, and each one as before shall follow. The grandfather clock in its transcendental form represents the whole; past, present and future.

There is this clock. Yes, there is this grandfather clock. Do you see it? It sees you. That is the essence of it.

- George Rapanos

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Grandfather Clock Story - Long
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