Sunday, April 19, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Clock stops running but mystery goes on

MarionFranckW

By
From page B4 | February 23, 2014 |

My father liked to name things. Our cars had names like Vinnie and Eric. Our second home had a name, Shoestring. Even our clocks had names, something that seemed perfectly normal to me at the time.

“The Witch,” a table clock with a rotating pendulum, got her name because she was a pain to keep running, and my dad always fussed over her. “Uncle Adolf,” a wall clock, was named for a real person, my grandfather’s older brother. Perhaps he gave the clock to my grandfather as a gift.

When I was growing up in the suburbs of New York, Uncle Adolf hung above the mantelpiece in our living room. An old-fashioned wooden clock, he was only the size of a basketball net but he commanded the room like a grandfather clock.

He had a wide pendulum that ticked noisily and a bell that chimed loudly and majestically every half-hour, day and night.

My dad wound Uncle Adolf faithfully every weekend, twisting the key in his tarnished brass face, and joking about him in a friendly way. To me Uncle Adolf seemed half-clock, half-person.

————

I met the real Uncle Adolf only once, in his beautiful home in Starnberg, Germany, near Munich, when I was 13 years old. He was about 80 then, and like his namesake, smaller in size than in voice. I remember him as a confident man, what you might expect in a well-educated physician, the eldest of five. I didn’t know at 13 that his life was the subject of family mystery.

Unlike his three brothers and one sister who all left Germany and wound up in America, Uncle Adolf and his wife remained in Germany throughout World War II.

The puzzle of this only struck me years later, when I realized that he was Jewish, although he had not been raised in the faith. His wife was Christian, reportedly a forceful woman in her youth, charming but imperative.

In 1942 Uncle Adolf, then in his 60s, was forced to give over his beautiful house to Nazis, but he stayed in nearby Munich, performing menial jobs at a work camp. After the war, Uncle Adolf and his wife moved back in.

In recent decades, a couple of my American cousins traveled to Starnberg to visit our relatives and perhaps to unravel the mystery of Uncle Adolf’s survival in Germany.

One cousin heard that Uncle Adolf’s wife was friends with Himmler’s wife. That’s possible, I suppose. Or total rumor. My dad already suffered from memory loss when that theory surfaced, so I didn’t ask him, and I might not have asked anyway.

He didn’t talk about the war.

————

In his later years, Uncle Adolf the clock developed a cold. He cleared his throat before he chimed — a hoarse buzzing sound that was a bit unpleasant. More seriously, he had trouble keeping time.

His ticking had always been loud, but now it drove me slightly crazy because I had to sleep in “his” room when visiting my dad.

“Should we get him fixed?” I asked. “We could send him somewhere.”

“No, Marion, he’s just a little slow.”

In the last year of my dad’s life, Uncle Adolf stopped chiming. He kept time better, not even losing a minute, and he still ticked loudly, but with his chime gone, I felt as if his heart had been cut out.

When my dad died in 2005, my brother and I divided up the mementos we considered most precious. I don’t remember what I bartered in order to get Uncle Adolf, but I wanted him pretty badly.

This was a mistake.

From the moment Uncle Adolf came to my house, I knew he could hang nowhere. Our house is modern; he is old-fashioned. Our house is quiet; he makes a lot of noise. My husband could never get used to the chime every half hour.

I put Uncle Adolf into a closet, telling myself I would have him repaired and find the right place for him to hang. He’s still there, almost 10 years later, lying on his back, waiting.

————

I remember Uncle Adolf the clock as he used to be, strong-voiced and accurate, just as I remember my father, vigorous and athletic, liking nothing better than a long walk and talk with me. This was long ago.

My data-seeking cousins are getting older. No one plans to visit Germany.

Relatives still live there, including Uncle Adolf’s granddaughter who is 10 years older than I. I wrote to her several years ago, trying gently to pose a question or two, but she replied that she was tired of all the fuss about the Holocaust. “We hear of it in this country ad nauseum,” she wrote.

Put off by her word choice, I went silent.

This week I unwrapped Uncle Adolf the clock to look at him again. He is much smaller than I remember, tarnished and in need of repair. “Not now,” I said to myself, and I laid him back on a shelf in the closet.

Uncle Adolf the clock is no closer to working, just as the mystery of his namesake is no closer to being solved.

Perhaps some energetic family member will figure out the mystery someday before all the knowledgeable people are gone.

The issue is time.

— Marion Franck lives in Davis with her family. Reach her at [email protected]

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Aggie Pride on parade at UC Davis Picnic Day

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    City wants a study of sewer rates

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Hard-of-hearing student needs community’s help

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    KDVS fund drive includes on-air pledging, plus parties and food

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    Art helped sell California’s agriculture

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Sign up now for Celebrate Davis!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Students, families can get after-hours Internet access

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Lawyers seek resolution to Davis molest case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

    Garamendi hosts conference for women

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    ‘Invaluable public servant’ retires after 20 years

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Your brain’s aging and a new report urges ways to stay sharp

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Injury-proof yourself for effective exercise

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Understanding risks can help women prevent leading health threats

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Woodland bike rides set every Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Get some advice at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Eyewitness speaks about Israel’s election

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    Free gardening advice offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Grad Night tickets on sale online

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Schenker speaks about ‘Magical Mexico’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Yolo County DA honors crime victims at annual tribute

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Holman offers Publishing 101 seminar

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Radio-controlled airplanes will race April 25-26

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Vote with your dollars at Davis Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Join the 10,000-vegetable challenge!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9Comments are off for this post

     
    NAMI group offers family support

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Birding tour will benefit Putah Creek Council

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    Watershed Wonders activities return to Putah Creek

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Yolo County Neighborhood Court seeks new volunteers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Two drought-preparedness water bills pass out of Senate committees

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    UCD looks at building a better brain as we age

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    ‘Vault’ highlights ‘Kathak’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Picnic Day favorites: dogs, bikes science

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A13 | Gallery

     
    Strike up the band, and the bubbles!

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Ready for the parting glass

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
     
    Leash your dogs; it’s the law

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    John Cole cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

     
    Yolo Crisis Nursery still needs help

    By Our View | From Page: B6

    Drink up, kids, but make your choice a healthy one

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Speak out

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B7

    Let’s not turn our backs on the Earth

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

     
    This Earth Day, make a pledge to cool your home

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

    .

    Sports

    Fast Aggie start negated by 14-0 USC lacrosse run

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Stagnant second-half offense sinks Devil girls

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Over the hump? DHS baseball team wins late

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lambdin, Marshall lead Aggies at Mt. SAC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Republic FC gets another win at Bonney

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B2

     
    UCD roundup: Aggies sweep a water polo double dip

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Busy Clancy, Hall spark Devil tracksters at Mt. SAC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Former DHS star Drexel returns to create havoc for Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    Pro baseball roundup: Oakland blanks Kansas City

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

     
    Sports briefs: Blue Devils split a pair of tennis matches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B14 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Marrone Bio Innovations strengthens its sales team

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    New phase opens at Brookfield Cottages

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    Tucos closes; new Japanese, pizza, subs debut

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    WISH grant funds available to eligible homebuyers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

    .

    Obituaries

    Alice Catherine Micheltorena

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Jody Zewe

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Herman Timm

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Robert Leigh Cordrey

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, April 19, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8