Clock collecting a timeless hobby for Waterloo man

Gerry Mudd is pictured at the only spot in the house that contains clocks: right by the front door. The rest are in the garage. (Robyn Dexter photo)

Hobbies are a way to pass time, and Waterloo’s Gerry Mudd took that idea literally.

His wife, Susan, said he needed a hobby after being diagnosed with cancer in 2006 — something that wasn’t too strenuous, but was detail-oriented.

Gerry began picking up old battery-powered analog clocks at garage and estate sales and found out he enjoyed fixing and tinkering with them.

He takes motors out of regular kitchen clocks and puts them in older clocks he’s collected.

Gerry even has put clocks in little statuettes and figurines, like a small motorcycle model that sits on a shelf just inside the front door.

“I’ll look at something like that and think, ‘can I put a clock in that?’” he said.

Gerry doesn’t spend much money on his unique hobby, only investing a few dollars toward purchasing and restoring the clocks he finds at garage sales.

Susan said he can only have a few of them in the house, and the rest are covering three walls of their garage — with some even hanging above the garage doors themselves.

Stepping out into the garage is like stepping into a clock itself: the whole space is constantly ticking, since all but about 10 of the 400 are currently running.

People have started calling him, inquiring about getting a clock fixed, since sending an old clock off to its maker can take months to repair and be returned.

Gerry’s worried he’s running out of room, however, and will probably start putting some in the shed next.

One of his concerns is the gradual disappearance of analog clocks.

“They’re all going digital,” Gerry said. “There’ll be weekends I’ll go to garage sales and won’t find any at all.”

There’s only one kind of clock the Mudds know of that they don’t have: a cuckoo clock.

“We can never find them,” Susan said. “You never see them anymore.”

He owns a few grandfather clocks, but those are difficult to find as well.

“Each one of the boys has one that I gave them, but I told them it was a loan because I don’t want to find out they’ve sold it,” Gerry said.

After reading local obituaries and seeing things like “avid fisherman” and other attributes listed under the deceased’s hobbies, Gerry wondered what his would say when he’s gone.

“Now I know,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t want it to say ‘Gerry did nothing.’”

Susan and the family had little business cards made for Gerry that contain his phone number and the title “The Clock Man,” along with this quote: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

Right now, he’s working on a big clock set in a large tree ring.

“I don’t even know where I’m going to put it,” he said with a laugh, examining the garage walls.

One of his favorites is of a boat captain with a steering wheel, with the clock embedded where the spokes would be.

It’s an older-style clock, the kind you’d see in an east coast nautical museum.

“It has such a distinct look to it,” Gerry said. “My favorite changes all the time though, honestly.”

He doesn’t think he’ll ever stop collecting and fixing up clocks.

“We take one down and put another one up,” Susan said.

When temperatures rise and the sun comes out, Gerry can be seen driving around Monroe County in a blue Dodge truck with his dog, heading to garage sales to see what he can find and fix up.

“I’m enjoying doing this while I can,” he said. “Before long, these clocks will be a thing of the past.”

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