Posted 6 years ago
I was in 4th grade in 1987 and I was about to start being an Altar Boy at the Catholic grade school I attended in Whittier, CA. My maternal Grandfather, whom I had always called "Papa" decided to give me what he called his "Sunday Watch" for me to wear when serving on the Altar. He got it as a gift from his wife (my Grandmother) in 1975. She says she bought it at Sears in Downtown Los Angeles.
My grandparents did not ever have a lot of money. They were certainly not "well to do". My grandfather was a retired fireman and my grandmother was a seamstress that mainly stayed at home, raising her three kids up until her own retirement.
They were relics of a time gone by. Both smoked, drank, and went on to celebrate their 55th Wedding anniversary before my grandmother (whom I always called "Gunny" as I was unable to pronounce "Granny" in my toddler years) passed away from breast cancer in 1989. They were married in 1934.
My grandfather was a character, no doubt about it. When he gave me his "Sunday" watch when I officially became an Altar Boy, you could tell he was proud. He was a 100% Irish Catholic (his last name was even Murphy), and seeing his only grandson donning his Sunday watch on the Altar truly made him proud.
The watch itself is a simple Seiko, Date Only. Manufactured in August of 1975, according to the Serial Number lookup I found online. It is two tone in color, and has 17 Jewels printed on the face.
I took it to a jeweler a few years ago to have the face cleaned and to have the movement cleaned, as the plastic crystal was cracked and allowed moisture to get in and oxidized the faceplate and it ran about 5 minutes fast. Unfortunately, upon pickup, the jeweler informed me that it was a lost cause and he went ahead and replaced the face with another face from the same model, but made about a year or two later, so it had a different font in the name. He did this without asking me and when I saw it, I nearly flipped out. I asked where the original face was and to my absolute horror he said he had thrown it away.
Even though the oxidation had made about half the old face solid black, it was still my original grandfather's watch. Now, though it is still the original case, band, and movement, it is still not original as I remember it. To add icing to this depressing cake, the watch still ran fast. Oy Vey. Lesson learned. I am certainly not returning to that jeweler again. :(
Well, I have gotten accustomed to the new face, and with the exception of the font of the Seiko name, the faceplate is indeed identical to the original. It is automatic, and it usually stops if not shaken for about 24 hours or so. I wear it pretty much every day except when I am donning a waistcoat, and thus must wear my non-family heirloom Waltham Pocket Watch (story behind that timepiece of mine can be found here:
If anyone would like to see the original point that was on the faceplate, check out the bottom off the band in the 3rd picture above.
My grandfather passed away in 1994 at the age of 84. Cigarette in his hand, and a can of Coors on the hospital side table. His wife of 55 years passed away 5 years earlier. He was a great man, and I will always cherish his Sunday watch, even though I stopped being an Altar boy many moons ago. I would take this over a Rolex President any day. I just have had to get used to being 5 minutes early to everything. :)
Thanks for reading everyone! I left out my usual esotericsm in this post. I figured the memory lane nostalgia and family connection was more than enough. Plus, Papa was a pretty simple man, and this post hopefully lived up to the kind of man he was. Simple, straightforward, and genuine in every way.
Rest in Peach, John Emmet Murphy AKA "Papa" 1910-1994.