When we cleaned out the front reading room, we had to remove an antique clock from the wall. I’ve heard stories about this clock all of my life. On the back of the clock, in my grandmother’s handwriting, was the word “School” written in pencil. There were two dates also noted in pencil: Cleaned on April 17, 1914, and May 20, 1917.
This clock graced the wall of my grandmother’s one room school house when she was a girl.
As the story goes, when she was about 12, she sat next to her older sister, Annie, in this same school room. One day a tousled boy with freckles appeared in the doorway. His family had just moved to this small Texas town and it was his first day at the school. My grandmother leaned over to her sister and whispered, “He’s mine, if I never get him.”
I never understood the use of a negative in that sentence. But her meaning was clear. That young boy named Dan never stood a chance. When they turned 20, they were married. Dan was a hard working farmer, who took odd jobs to make ends meet during the depression. His longest running odd job was working for the Texas Highway Department. Maggie, who came from a family with 18 children (long before the Duggars made it popular), stayed home to raise two daughters, sewing all of their clothes, and making frayed ends meet. She was a sweet soul who could tend a boo-boo one minute, and then walk out in the yard to wring a chicken’s neck and serve it up for dinner the next.
Dan and Maggie owned a little white house on a 70 acre farm on the outskirts of town where they lived for most of their 64 year marriage. Some of my happiest childhood memories were spent during summers on that farm. Even in adulthood, I would retreat there for respite from the ups and downs of my tumultuous 20’s.
Dan died at home, unexpectedly, in 1987. In the last years of their lives, they took such tender care of one another. It came as no surprise when Maggie followed him less than a year later.
As I was cleaning off bookshelves in preparation for the re-flooring, I came across my Pa’s old well worn Bible. Inside its pages were many underlined passages, handwritten thoughts, and copies of precious cards, poems, and letters. One such envelope was entitled, “To Dan, He’s my man.” Inside was a small Christmas card that said:
“Hun as Grandma Walton says, you old fool. I do love you even tho it’s almost impossible at times. Ha. I do love and appreciate you more than you think. May the Lord bless you real good in every way. Love, Maggie.”
Dan & Maggie on their wedding day, 1924
Every time I glance at that old school room clock, I think of those two precious people who made such an impact on my life. We set the hands to the time that Fiddledaddy and I were married. And even though the clock stopped working many many years ago, the blessings and the legacy left by Dan and Maggie are eternal.