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Back on Real Time

Papa would be happy.  Now we are back on real time as opposed to new time.  My grandfather, Paul Bertram, was a no nonsense man and somewhat set in his ways.  He was 31 in 1918 when Daylight Savings Time was first introduced in the United States, and now almost one hundred years later, I still think of him every time I move my clocks to spring forward or fall back.

I never heard Papa complain about Daylight Savings Time.  He made his statement by the clock that hung on the wall beside his and Grandma’s kitchen table.  It stayed on real time.  They ate on real time, and they went to bed and got up on real time.  Another clock hung on the living room wall close to the big console television.  Set on new time.

Papa was one of ­­­­six children and lived his whole live in Pickett County.  He built his and Grandma’s home within throwing distance of his parent’s home.  He was a carpenter and some say a self-taught engineer.  No problem was too great.  Solving a problem just took time and thought and work and patience.

Papa worked in Oak Ridge during the building boom, designed a water tank in Byrdstown in the 1950s to equip the new shirt factory with a sprinkler system, built houses to rent, and many by contract.  His houses were high quality, built to the owner’s specifications.  One house had electrical wall sockets three feet above the floor.  When he asked the homeowner where she wanted the plugs, she walked throughout her wood-framed home and pointed her finger at that level.  Papa penciled each place with an x and followed her directions.

One Christmas I didn’t understand why there was money in the pocket of the shirt that Papa and Grandma gave my daddy.  They had three daughters and three sons-in-law, and they treated each the same.  Dad’s shirt cost $2 less than the other two sons-in-law’s.  Papa expected everyone to be fair and honest, but sometimes he double-checked to be sure no one made a mistake.  More than one family member was embarrassed when he stood in the drugstore, poured the pills that the pharmacist has just put into a pill bottle into his hand, and counted.

Papa drove all over Pickett and the surrounding counties looking for good land.  Some he bought and later sold.  Whether his work for the day was building a house or trading land, he was always home by suppertime – five o’clock.  During the summer months, he ate fast so he could see the end of the evening news on TV.  When Daylight Savings Time ended, he could eat supper, take a little nap, and watch all of the 6:00 news.  And both clocks, the one in the kitchen and the one by the TV, were set on real time.


2 Responses

  1. Susan, that is beautiful. We all loved Uncle Paul. He was a special man. Now I will never set my clocks without thinking of him. thank you.


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