Chamblee54

Told Her The Time

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on July 5, 2010


One of the themes of “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” is time. A character, the Chink, is rescued by a band of native americans ( then known as Indians), after escaping from a WWII internment camp for the Japanese. ( Yes, calling a Japanese person Chink is like calling Malcolm X a redneck. There is no shortage of irony in ECGTB. (spell check suggestions:ECG, ECSTASY)You need an irony board handy at all times.)

The faux tribe that rescued the Chink was known as the clock people. They left San Francisco after the fire of 1906, amazed that anyone would rebuild on that shaky land. The clock people had an outpost in the mountains, with something they called the clockworks. The function of the clockworks is part of the story that is a bit fuzzy. The bottom line is, the clock people resisted the white man’s ideas about time. They even considered 13 to be a sacred number, and based what time calculations they made on the bakers dozen.

In time, the Chink got tired of the clock people, and settled onto a ridge overlooking the Rubber Rose Ranch. He became friends (with benefits) with a select few cowgirls, and Sissy H. Gitche. The Chink ran his mouth when the mood stuck/struck. One of the things he discussed was time.

Early on in this second reading of ECGTB, PG had jury duty.One thing you absolutely need on a day of waiting in the jury room is a fun book. At one point, PG looked behind him at the clock, and saw that it was 10:09 am. This is the time shown on all timepieces when they are photographed for advertising.

It occurred to PG that this was standard time ( or daylight savings ), and how standard time was universally accepted without question. If PG only knew he would be reading about the clock people soon, he would smile at the irony. His eyes had passed over the words about time during the previous reading of ECGTB. In his eagerness to read about carpet happy cowgirls, PG missed the lesson.

Standard time is the invention of the railroads. If they were going to make the trains run on time, the time needed to be the same at both point a and point b. This got started in England in 1847, with something called Greenwich Mean Time adopted as the national standard. America had to fight a war between the states, and wait twenty years, before the railroads said we need this. Benito Mussolini would not appear for another forty years or so, to make the trains run on time.

According to wikipedia (which is not universally accepted) :
“On October 11, 1883, the heads of the major railroads met in Chicago at the former Grand Pacific Hotel to adopt the Standard Time System of four standard time zones for the continental U.S.A.. The new system was adopted by most states almost immediately after railroads did so. At noon on November 18, 1883, the U.S. Naval Observatory changed its telegraphic signals to correspond to the change.”
The truth is, there are numerous advantages to using standard time, and almost no disadvantages. Like measurements of longitude and latitude, the freezing point of water, and the death of Francisco Franco, standard time is accepted without question. It is one of the stepping stones to civilization.

And yet, doubts remain. If you see a person looking at a watch, ask them what time it is. They will look at the watch again before giving you an answer. And lets not forget the girls of “The Catcher in the Rye”. No matter how many times they were told the time, they never quit asking.

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