Time matters to Mark McKinley. The professor of psychology at LCCC and Guinness World Record holder for having the largest collection of talking clocks — 782 to be precise — says time is a precious commodity, and adheres to one of his favorite quotes: “Time is the currency of life: Spend it wisely.”
“This is no longer a hobby, it’s a part-time job,” says McKinley of his collection. Indeed, his work has included writing a book, maintaining a virtual museum, running an association for talking-clock collectors and general clock maintenance. He even says it takes him and his wife nearly seven hours in the fall and four hours in the spring to set the clocks in his kitchen alone for daylight saving time.
Helping the Visually Impaired
McKinley’s interest in talking clocks started when his mother’s sight began to decline. Given her near-inability to see the time, talking clocks proved helpful. “It was a perfect solution,” says McKinley. “And once you get started in something like this, you never stop.”
A Cluttered House
It’s hard to store all these clocks. McKinley has more than 500 on display, with approximately 300 in his kitchen, 100 on his stairway and 100 more in his office. One of his favorites is a “Mr. Tomato,” which exclaims as a wake-up call, “It’s time to get up, right away. Wait any longer and it’s ketchup all day. Remember, Heinz is the thick, rich one.”
Museums for Clocks
“At some point I want to build a museum,” says McKinley. Despite the lack of a physical housing for such a display, a virtual museum is available for free online at istcc.org. Go to the site and check out the International Society of Talking Clock Collectors, a group which McKinley also formed.
Talking About Clocks
McKinley’s book “Tick Tock Talk: The Collected History and Significance of Talking Clocks” spans the history of talking clocks and examines the way people verbally express time, teach the telling of time to children and the latest celebrity, cartoon and atomic clocks. The book features hundreds of color images, detailed descriptions and an included CD with each clock’s distinct sounds and phrases.