Ruth and Max at the Natyra e Qete Restaurant & Camping near Berat, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Berat, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Greece.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Grandfather's Watch

I didn't get to know either one of my grandfathers. On my dad's side, my grandfather lived in British Columbia and I only met him once, when my father took me for a visit in 1966. I was four years old, and he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack later that year. He was only 61.

On my mom's side, my grandfather lived in Toronto, and while we visited once or twice a year, he also passed away very young.

I have only one very vague memory of him. My mother had put me on a bus (alone!) from Ottawa to Toronto so I could visit my grandmother. I was six years old, so this would have been in 1968. My grandfather had Alzheimer's, and had been put in a care facility of some kind. So one day, my grandmother took me to visit him, and I distinctly remember her telling him "Bob, this is your grandson" as he struggled to recognize me. Funny, the things that stick in your mind.

Less than a year later, he also passed away from a heart attack. He was 69.

I only have one picture of him on my computer, although I'm sure my mother has more. 

Taken in the late 1950's. My grandmother, grandfather, and my Mom!

My grandparents never had a lot of money. He had been born in Yorkshire, England and emigrated to Toronto, Canada in the 1920's. He got himself a job at a warehouse there, and met my grandmother who had also emigrated, although she was from Scotland. 

He was still working at the warehouse when they got married in 1933, and then in 1937 they bought themselves a house, walking distance from the corner of Bloor and Yonge. For those of you who don't know Toronto, this is a pretty busy area nowadays!

They paid $1,400 for their house. (As a side note, my grandmother sold the house in 1972 for $24,000. That property is likely worth around $800,000 now!)

But they never owned a car. Apparently my grandfather said that he could afford to buy a car, but he couldn't afford to own one!

He became a long time employee of that warehouse, a division of a company that still exists today. Now it's called Howell Logistics. He retired in 1963 at the age of 64...having spent 37 years working at the same company.

People had a different work ethic back then. In the entire 37 years that he worked for the company, he never took a day off sick. He said that if he was going to be sick, he would do it on his own time!

When he retired, they gave him a watch. I guess that was the standard in those days.

Retire at 64, and die at 69. Not a great retirement, but that's the hand he was dealt.

My mother was an only child, so when he passed away the watch ended up on my father's wrist. I know my dad had some work done to the watch at some point in time, but it's an expensive timepiece and was worth spending some money on.

My mother passed the watch on to me, and it still keeps perfect time. I hardly ever wear it because I'm afraid of damaging it. Plus, it needs a new strap. Going to have to make a point of getting that done.

Notice the date... he worked for the same company from 1926-1963 and never took a day off sick!

(Edit: A note from my mother this morning says... "Actually he took time off work when he had his tonsils out other than that he was always sick on the weekend!  He ended up being a bookkeeper at Howell Warehouses.  I don't remember if Tippet Richardson ( the movers) owned Howell Warehouses or the other way round.  I remember going to a company picnic on Centre Island and meeting Mr. Tippet..")

Here's our Amazon deal of the day...

We know there are a lot of birders out there and we certainly became more interested in birds when we were in Africa. One of the things we'd like to get some day is a decent pair of binoculars. A deal like this doesn't come along every day, and if we lived in the U.S., we would probably buy these...

They're regular $429, and on sale for $189!

(Edit: You missed the great deal at $189 because the price has now gone up to $269. Still a good deal, but you'll have to be quicker next time!)

This is a great deal. For comparison, Cabela's also has them on sale, but for $349. 


  1. I, too have my grandfather's watch, although it's a pocket watch. He also was born in England and fought in WWI. I have his medals. Special keepsakes.

    He came to the U.S. in 1912, returned to join the English army. After the war, he came back to the U.S. and became a citizen.

    1. It is special to have the keepsakes and the memories of grandparents.

  2. That is a very unique Omega, Kevin. I quickly scanned the first 16 pages of Omega listings on eBay and found nothing with the combination of 3. 6, 9, & 12 markings as well as the absence of the word "Automatic". Does this mean the watch is not "Automatic" or "Self Winding"? I am sure you have researched this watch as well but when I was researching mine I came upon this site,

    It is run by Desmond, an Australian who is probably one of the worlds best authorities on Omega Constellations, although he is interested in all models. There is an email link on his Blog Profile. Send him the photo and your story on the watch and I am sure you will get an answer from him. He enjoys hearing Omega stories and seeing different models.

    Those watches like to be worn, Kevin. Periodic use keeps the movement lubricated. I don't mean to wear it every day but maybe on special occasions? Contact Desmond, he is very friendly and helpful.

    1. I scoured Google Images and did not find a single specimen even close to Kevin's. He should go on Antiques Roadshow! I just checked the Bulova watch I got when I retired 14 years ago after 7 years' service (including plenty of sick days). Hint, it's still available today at for $130! OTOH, retiring at age 37: priceless.

    2. I think that Kevin is going to try contacting the person that Croft spoke about to see if he can find out any more information on the watch.

      Love the retiring at 37, no watch is better than that!

  3. Seems that Grandfather's watches are very special to many many people. When I played the autoharp a song with that title was the most requested thing I played. Beautiful watch, lovely memories.

    1. It does seem that way doesn't it Sherry. I think my Dad has his grandfather's pocket watch as well. Never knew there was a song by the same name. We will have to look up the words and music to it.

  4. Your grandfather had a wonderful work ethic. I'd say that you followed in his footsteps and he'd be very proud of all that you have accomplished in life so far. Thanks for sharing - it brought back lots of memories of my two granddads!

    1. Thank you Connie and Barry, he certainly did, I guess it follows in the both our families. Our parents were also much the same, as are we and both of our children. I wish more people thought this way. Glad we were able to bring back some memories for you.

  5. Such a wonderful story to share.
    I have my Grandfather's gold pocket watch and my Father's Omega, very important to me with many memories as well.

    1. Just make sure you pass them down to your kids along with the stories and memories which are just as important as the watches.

  6. Great story, Kevin. Your Grandfather sounds like a wonderful man. Pretty easy to see where your work ethic comes from...

    Reminds me of my Grandfather that I do not remember very well. Although he kept a diary every day, so I read that start to finish. He wrote in it every day from the late 20s to 1970 when he died at age 61. It was really cool to get to know him through his own words instead of someone telling me about him. Kind of like a pre-computer blog. He even put pictures and mementoes in the back cover.

    I write a diary, used to be every day, but now more infrequent. Need to keep up on it!!!

    Thanks for the memories!!!

    1. I wish more people that those same work ethics today.

      I think what your grandfather did is wonderful. Those memories he had will now live on for generations to come. I hope that you will keep up your diary. We find even going back a couple of years in our blog and reading about what we did is neat. Sometimes we forget some of the small things but when we read back all of a sudden the whole day comes back to us like it was only yesterday.


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