Not For Sale

He was thin, the black coat so stiff it might have been snipped from tin. Wiry like her uncles, but with bright bird eyes. He stood staring at the clocks, always coming back to her favorite, the one with all the faces and figures.

“How long you say it took to carve?” the man asked Uncle Frank.

“We don’t keep track,” said Uncle Frank. “We finish when we finish.”

“Well, I like the craftsmanship. I’d like to buy it.”

“Not for sale, Mr. Ford.”

“How about a million dollars?”

Uncle Frank smiled. “What would I do with a million dollars?”


Friday Fictioneers


Note: This photo was taken at the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville, Iowa. The museum building was the residence of Antonín Dvořák during the summer of 1893 where he composed his String Quartet in F (also known as the “American Quartet”) and his String Quintet in E-Flat.


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  1. rochellewisoff

    Dear Josh,

    Uncle Frank sounds like an interesting and self-aware individual. I was a bit thrown by ‘her’ in the opening sentences. Thank you for the lovely photo.



    • J Hardy Carroll

      Thanks Rochelle. This story is observed by the niece, though we don’t know much more about her. The place itself is fascinating. This is a true story, too. In 1928, they told Henry Ford to take a hike when he offered to buy their nicest clock. This was when the “museum” was the Bily farm about ten miles outside of town. Ford and his entourage drove out to make an offer on the clock, but were turned down flat. That’s the Iowa I like, not its current incarnation. Seeing these clocks in person takes your breath away.

  2. pennygadd51

    You tell that story very well, Josh. I love your description of Henry Ford. How fascinating that he should have felt so drawn to a piece of craftmanship that was the antithesis of all his hard-headed commercial realism.

  3. michael1148humphris

    I loved the description of the black coat. And have found the back ground information and comment interesting also.

  4. Rowena

    Thanks so much for providing us with this incredible clock and backstory for us this week. Despite one vocal protest, the rest of us seemed to be particularly inspired this week. I was thinking about that extraordinary home having Dvorzak and the clocks there. I have a strong sense of place and so this building captured my interest.
    I admire him for not selling the clock and being true to himself.
    Best wishes,

      • Rowena

        I play the violin and am by no means a violinist. So, I was particularly interested in the Dvorák connection. I’ve been researching cellist Jacqueline Du Pre who played Dvorák on the cello. She ended up dying from MS and I live with a similar auto-immune disease which is currently in remission, so her story resonates with me. It’s funny how all those thoughts can be sparked by a photo of a clock and a back story.
        Best wishes,

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