By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
Lucky you, the television, computers and most of your other electronic devices will reset to Daylight Savings Time Sunday morning without your help. You still have to adjust the alarm clock in the bedroom and don’t forget the kitchen clock.
As you gripe quietly to yourself about this twice-a-year task, you might spare a thought for Johnny Ingram. Ingram owns 500 clocks. Don’t worry.
Ingram will not spend all day Sunday resetting clocks. “Let them run,” Ingram said last week.
Ingram and his wife Edith own the Museum of Measurement and Time on Polk Street in Jefferson. “I wind 20 to 30 clocks every week,” Ingram explained. “It’s a pretty good task to keep them tuned up.” Ingram likes having his clocks set to different times. Clocks now chime the hour at various times throughout the day, instead of all clocks sounding off at the same time.
The collection includes the first clock Johnny and Edith purchased in 1960. “We got addicted,” Ingram said. They began collecting Ingram clocks because of the name connection, but soon included other American-made brands. The Ingrams grew up in Odessa, where they met and married.
After a tour in the U.S. Marine Corps, Ingram began working for an Odessa engineering company.“ After a while, I decided I could starve in College Station as easy as I could in Odessa,” Ingram said. Ingram earned his degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 1965.
He also received his surveyor’s license. “My class was the last class to be given the choice of having College or University on their degree,” Ingram said. “I chose College.” As you sit in one of the rocking chairs at the front of the museum and visit with Johnny, the clocks keep a muffled beat in the background.
Novelty clocks like the one with a little girl bouncing up and down on a swing or the swinging ball clock can mesmerize. You find time slipping peacefully by. The Ingrams moved to Jefferson about 40 years ago while Johnny worked as a surveyor. They opened the museum about 10 years ago.
“If it wasn’t for (Edith), we wouldn’t have a museum.” With all the clocks around him, Ingram is certain which one is his favorite. A tall, very old grandfather clock stands behind the first row of clocks. “This clock probably came up the Bayou on a riverboat to Jefferson,” Ingram said.
As the name says, the museum includes much more than clocks. Surveying equipment, both ancient and modern, provides the “Measurement” element to the collection. An Edmund Draper transit is Johnny’s pride. “It is the same as the one they used to survey the boundary between Texas and Louisiana in 1841,” Ingram said.
As you explore the museum, you find transits, lasers, tripods and surveyor chains. Ingram said he first began collecting surveying equipment as part of an effort to comprehend how 18th and 19th century surveyors worked. His collection includes devices to measure Spanish baras and reals, used on many old land deeds.
“The bara is about 33 1/3 inches,” Ingram said.“I thought if I could understand the equipment, I could understand the results,” he said. Edith’s collection of more than 1,500 salt and pepper shaker sets also can be seen at the museum. There are duck shakers, chicken shakers, house shakers, fish shakers and baby shakers.
The massive assembly is sure to impress.Johnny has also expanded the museum to include ancient musical reproduction instruments. A cylinder phonograph includes numerous recordings by Jefferson’s Vernon Dalhart. Another unique piece was a hand-cranked organ that played hymns off metal cylinders like a player piano.
Joining the collection are telephones and computers.Ingram considers Jefferson fortunate to have four “world-class” museums. “There is the Jefferson Historical Museum, Tom Hughes’ Mason-Dixon Line Military Museum, Bobbie O’Hardy’s Gone With the Wind Museum and the Museum of Measurement and Time,” Ingram said.
The Jefferson Historical Museum, which is being remodeled, features a wealth of exhibits from Jefferson’s past from riverboats, to the Civil War to the present. Mason-Dixon Line includes many uniforms and equipment from both sides of past wars. At the Gone With the Wind Museum, you find an extensive collection of memorabilia from both the famous movie starring Clark Gable and Janet Leigh and the book by Margaret Mitchell.
Ingram believes tourists should visit all four on any trip to Jefferson. “We have so much history,” Ingram said. Ingram makes sure his museum is well-stocked with literature about much of that history and math problems to challenge young minds. One problem is to determine how many square feet in an acre.
“Write down any three numbers, none being zero,” the question begins. “Reverse the order. Subtract the smaller from the larger. Reverse the order again. Add the two numbers. Multiply this sum by 40.” The answer is 43,560, the number of square feet in an acre. Daylight Savings Time remains an unpopular subject, however. “I think we ought to get rid of it,” Ingram said.
“Texas is so big, we have two time zones. The legislature would have to decide which time zone we would be in.” Despite political difficulties, Ingram believes we can do better than the present spring forward, fall back gymnastics. “I personally think we ought to have standard time,” Ingram said, “and let nature take care of the daylight.”
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