Monday, January 25, 2010

Timeless North Georgia Treasures

This weekend we continued our exploration of the North Georgia countryside, starting out in Gainesville at the Longstreet Cafe with a southern-style breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, cheesy grits and bacon. Bellies full, we headed up Thompson Bridge Road/Hwy 60 toward Murrayville, then crossed over to Clermont. Along the way we saw a rafter of wild turkeys (around ten of them grazing in a pasture) and a curiously out-of-place, ten-plus-foot rocking chair sitting up on a hill at the side of the road.

We looped back around and ended up on Hwy 365 headed toward Tallulah Falls. Spying Jaemor Farm off to the side, we u-turned and stocked up on freshly-fried apple pies, boiled peanuts and a generous slice of sharp hoop cheese, then browsed the Amish rockers, crockery and blueberry bushes.

Back in the truck, shivering from the chill northeast wind, we continued our jaunt north and east.

In Alto, we stopped at a strip center where, unable to resist, we poked our heads in to a clock shop, drawn by the promise of grandfather clocks and more. Stepping inside, the distinctive sound of pendulums, ticking and chiming surrounded us, enveloped us, engulfed us.

I took Randy's arm, and we stood there silent, letting the sounds, and the sight wash over us.

From the front of the shop, a tiny gray tab and white kitten ran toward us, in a hurry to greet her new visitors. I was as enchanted with her as with the clocks. Well...almost.

Not far behind was her brother, two sizes larger, an all gray tab, who instantly claimed Randy and the strings of his jacket, for his prize. The owner of the shop sat at his desk, giving us time to marvel at the clocks, clocks of all shapes and sizes. Grandfathers, mantels, pendulums, cuckoos. Old ones, newer ones, antiques, first editions...such a large array of wonderful, historical clocks.

As we made our way to the front of the shop, Doc Newman, the owner, rose and greeted us, happy to share information about each of his prizes, their history, their lore and more.

As a cardiologist in St Petersburg, Florida, Henry Newman had been a collector of clocks. He had learned tips on repairing them over the years, but after retiring and moving to the North Georgia mountains, he went back to school. And learned in a year of intensive training, what took others many years longer. He then opened this marvelous shop, Docs-Clocks. Everything in there was priced to sell, with generous discounts. Except, of course, the customer clocks, the ones in for repair.

In addition to the fabulous clocks, he also has a vintage automobile, a 1904 Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabout, looking shiny and new by the doorway. It had been passed down from his father and has won first place in some classic car show or two. I wish I'd written more of the particulars down so that I can share them with you, but I'll have to let the photo speak for itself.

On the wall behind the Olds, was a framed photograph of Doc Newman holding a 57-pound King mackerel that he'd caught in Florida many years ago, again, my facts are lacking, but...what I'm trying to convey, in the middle of the North Georgia mountains, we discovered quite a jewel.

The shop, the clocks, the car, the photos...all have stories. And those stories are told, quite willingly and magically, by Doc Newman, aided and abetted by Tick and Tock, the two kittens rescued from their feral mom, who happened by the picture window as we were heading back out the door.

If you're ever up in Doc's neck of the woods, or looking to buy or repair a truly unique clock, do yourself a favor and stop in. Buy a clock. Take yours for repair. But don't be in a hurry. Spend some time looking around. Revel in the sights and sound of time, and of days gone by.

Take time, in this bastion of time, to bask in the glory of story from a master, who is quite willing to share.

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