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Like clockwork: Retired Starkville man braves daylight saving adjustments at clock museum

 

Harold Rone, 86, adjusts one of the more than 300 clocks on display at the Gladys Wade Clock Museum at Mississippi State University for daylight saving time. Rone has been the museum's custodian since 2007.

Harold Rone, 86, adjusts one of the more than 300 clocks on display at the Gladys Wade Clock Museum at Mississippi State University for daylight saving time. Rone has been the museum's custodian since 2007. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

 

Rone picked up clockwork as a hobby about 50 years ago.

Rone picked up clockwork as a hobby about 50 years ago.
Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Joshua Starr

 

 

Many devices with internet connectivity simply adjusted themselves for the end of daylight saving time on Sunday, while other timepieces required momentary adjustments.  

 

For one Starkville man, however, the one-hour time shift required a day's labor and four days of advance preparation. 

 

As he usually does once a week, Cullis and Gladys Wade Clock Museum custodian Harold Rone, 86, showed up for work at 8 a.m. on Wednesday to adjust and wind the more than 300 working clocks in the museum's collection.  

 

As he does twice a year, Rone also reset the collection's clocks for daylight saving, a task that he said can easily take eight hours or more. 

 

For many people, there is an easier way to set old wall and mantel clocks to the new time, Rone said. 

 

"A lot of people stop their clocks," he said. "You can stop the clock and then go back and start it in an hour, but I can't do it around here with all these (clocks)."  

 

Instead, Rone leads each clock's minute hand 12 times clockwise around its face to strike the hour.  

 

"You've got to go by every clock," Rone said. "For daylight saving time, you've got to run that big old hand all the way around and let it do its thing. That takes time -- that takes longer. But if I don't have any interruptions, I can do it in a day." 

 

Rone said he does not mind the effort.  

 

He has always liked working with his hands, and since his wife of 62 years passed away in 2013, he has a greater appreciation for his job as an opportunity to occupy his time in his retirement. 

 

"I like to get old things running," Rone said. "I might not be able to repair automobiles -- some people can do that. Some people can do a lot of wood work. I never did any wood work, but people love to do it. You've got to like what you do. Any job is going to have disadvantages, but if you like it, stick with it. That's my motto." 

 

 

 

50 years of clock working 

 

Rone learned to repair clocks during the early years of his career working at the Hershede Hall Clock Company that once had a factory in Starkville. He later maintained and repaired watches during his 32 years as jeweler at the now-closed Mullins Department Store on Starkville's Main Street. 

 

"I repaired watches, but I don't do that anymore," Rone said. "Clocks, I took that up on my own time, and I've been doing it for a few years -- something like 50 years." 

 

Rone said he has learned a lot about the history of the clocks while working at the museum, and he uses his knowledge to answer inquiries from museum visitors.  

 

Mississippi State University Welcome Center Coordinator Christi Stevens said Rone's passion for the exhibits is evident in his work and adds to the museum experience for visitors. 

 

"He loves the clocks. He fusses at us when we move them or touch them," Stevens said. "I think he's been doing this on the side for years -- he has a little shop in his house. And he does it for the public, so he brings a lot of joy to us." 

 

Rone began working for the museum when it opened in 2007 and has since kept the museum swell with a constant ticking almost inaudible from the other side of the museum's entrance in the MSU Welcome Center. Inside, the sound is rich and resembles the patter of rain on cement, which Rone loves. 

 

"It's relaxing -- it sounds like water running," Rone said. "If you had a bed in here, you could go to sleep. Now, of course, on every hour, it'd wake you up. It's soothing to get them all running and ticking like that."

 

 

 

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