I was locked and scared in my grandfather's clock.

by Jeff

My grandfather on my mother’s side loved to make things, and he was great at it. So much of our furniture – my baby cradle, rocking horse, our two hutches, our dining room table, my desk, my chest of drawers – was made by him. I love all of it, but my favorite piece ever? Ironically, it’s the grandfather clock, designed as a wedding gift to my parents.


At 7 feet tall and 2 feet wide with a delicate clock face set into the rich redwood, it’s an absolutely gorgeous, equisite clock – the kind of thing antique dealers fall over themselves to get their hands on.

But my family would never dream of selling it, and when I inherit it, I certainly don’t plan to do so either.

As an adult, I still love to reset it (even if it doesn’t work anymore), just to feel the texture of the chains and weights in my hands, and to hear the haunting but beautiful clock sounds it makes as the weights rise back to the top.

The grandfather clock was truly a staple part of my childhood. As a kid, it became whatever my imagination wanted it to be – a ride at the "Disneyland" I created in my living room, a portal to new worlds, Big Ben. Most of all, I loved pretending the little cupboard at the base of the clock was a secret passageway.

In reality, it’s just a shallow cupboard that leads to absolutely nowhere, but try telling my 7-year-old mind that! As many memories as I have with our grandfather clock, one stands out in particular.

I was eleven, and my brother and I were playing hide and seek out of boredom. For old time’s sake, I had the brilliant idea to take up my old hiding spot in the little clock cupboard. I had grown since I was seven, but I’ve always been very petite; I was delighted to find I could still get in.

That’s when the earthquake started and the fun ended. The second I felt the ground move, I panicked and immediately tried to get out. The last place I wanted to be in the middle of an earthquake was in a small, dark, unstable space. Except I couldn’t get out, because in the middle of my panic, I had somehow managed to shut the cupboard door on myself, getting locked in during the process (it only unlocks from the outside. Go figure.)

So I had the brilliant idea to stand up and try to get out through the glass door part. That turned out to be the worst idea ever. The combined movement of my attempting to stand up, the earthquake, and the fact that the clock was on the carpet now instead of the tile (probably moved there in the instance of this exact thing happening), sent the whole thing toppling over.

I was lucky I was at the base of the clock instead of the top, because that could have been seriously bad. And painful. It wasn’t. Painful, I mean.

There was more of a sense of impact than anything else, but since I was close to the ground already, I was spared. Luckily, so was the clock. Although can I just say how rattling it is to be stuck inside a grandfather clock as it goes crashing to the ground, causing all of the chimes to chime? Yeah. It’s loud.

The most ironic part, though, is this: out of everything that could have broken as that clock when tumbling down, the only thing that was harmed was the door.

The same one I was trying to get out of earlier when I stupidly locked myself in. The hinges broke off, and my dad had to fix it later.

I could have exited the clock then. Instead, my parents and brother found me a few minutes later, still inside the clock, laughing hysterically.

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