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Today is May 10, 2021

Mississippi Seen

What makes you tick?

By Walt Grayson

What makes you tick?

We had hobby shows back when I was in grade school. My best friend collected matchbooks. You remember those free packets of matches beside the cash registers at restaurants and places like that with their logo on the cover? His mom was in the military, so he had matchbooks from all over the world. Others had stamp collections. I can’t remember all of the hobbies anymore. I Scotch-taped my arrowheads onto poster board and showed them.

Is there a psychology to hobbies that points to some longing in our personalities? Some emptiness buried in our DNA that we try to fill by collecting or building or painting? Maybe it’s something meaningful from our childhoods that we attempt to recreate. Cooking. Or picking up old radios at fl ea markets. I don’t want to think about it too much or I might really figure it out and ruin the fun of hobbies.

Cullis and Gladys Wade had an interesting hobby. Finding and repairing old clocks. They donated their collection to Mississippi State University. There are about 400 of them displayed in the Cullis Wade Depot — the Mississippi State Welcome Center. The Clock Museum is free. Next “time” you are in Starkville and have some “time” on your hands, stop in and look around.

I’m glad I’m not the person in charge of all of the clocks this time of year. Changing from savings time back to standard time would mean having to reset all of them. And that would take a while to do. A lot longer than it takes just to keep them wound.

Most of the clocks in the collection are from the 1800s and 1900s. Although some go back as far as the 1700s. Most are American and some European. I think there is an Oriental clock in there, too. It’s one of those collections that you might take all in at a single glance. Or you might get absorbed with one clock, marveling at the mechanics of it — how it measures time in chunks as long as months, then down to weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds — all on the same device.

The sound of 400 clocks all ticking at once is mesmerizing. And it changes as you walk around the room and get closer to or farther away from some of the louder or softer clocks. It all blends together like water rippling over rocks in a brook or a horse galloping. Or someone walking deliberately along a path.

It occurred to me that the combined sounds of all of the clocks are movement-related — going toward a destination. The brook to the sea. The horse to the finish line. The hiker toward home. Individual, each clock just ticks — suggesting someone in a rocking chair. A lot of movement but little progress.

But that’s life. Stymied, or moving away from or toward something. Away from youth but toward maturity. But ultimately — toward next spring when we have to reset all of them again.


Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at

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