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Pellom’s Time Shop [Updated with a Sermon by Rev. Sensing]

It’s the oldest shop in Black Mountain, North Carolina. None of the other shopkeepers can remember a time when it wasn’t here. Nobody in town can remember a time when Pellom himself wasn’t here. The Time Shop and Pellom may well have been here before the town was here; before even the Cherokee were here. Nobody can say.

These days Pellom isn’t the Pellom he once was. If you want him to come and deal with your time in your space you have to pick him up and bring him back at the appointed time. If your time is more flexible you can bring your time to him if it breaks. He might well have that part of the time you need in his shop. He’s got all sorts of spare time parts from time past if precious little from time present and even less from time future. Still, sometimes he’s got time.

Most people look into the cluttered and dust-layered window of the Time Shop and walk on by. The stores full of crafts made the old-time way lure them on. After all, most of those who walk up and down this street in Black Mountain are retired and have, they think, all the time in the world.

Pellom doesn’t mind. He knows what time it is. He also knows what can happen to time. How it can come unsprung. How it can run slow and still run fast. How time runs down. How time goes by. How time runs out. That’s why he’s careful, when he can, to save time.

You can, if he decides he likes you, buy some time at the Time Shop. All you have to do is to step through the seldom-used door of the Time Shop and say “Good afternoon, Mr. Pellom.” Then you need to look around the shop carefully and slowly. You need, most of all, to take your time.

In time, if the time is right, Pellom will glance up at you from behind his bench, his green eyeshade shadowing his eyes, and say, “What can I get you?”

Not “What are you looking for?,” or “How can I help you?,” but “What can I get you?”

You’d be well advised to take him at his word and say, “I’d like to buy some more time.”

Then, if your request is timely, Pellom will nod and fetch that small cloud-blue glass-stoppered bottle from the shelf behind him and bring it over to the counter, and put it down in front of you with a sharp, satisfying clack on the glass of the counter. Looking into it all you will see is, towards the center, the faintest mist made from the color out of space and inside that, towards the core of the mist, a shovel of stars.

“Very good, sir,” Pellom will say. “How much time would you like?”

I’d advise you to buy as much time as you can afford, as often as you can afford it, time after time.

Just because Pellom has some extra time today doesn’t mean he won’t be out of time tomorrow. Most of the time, time is always in short supply. Tonight, while you sleep, your government will be awake printing more money. Nobody is printing more time. This is why you should be careful how you spend time in the first place. Just ask Pellom down at the Time Shop.

Message for the First Sunday of Advent 2021 – The Time of Your Life
[I am honored to be one of the causes of such a wise and moving sermon. GV]

And, sadly, in updating this essay, I learn that Mr. Pellom is now removed from time:
John Pellom Obituary (1928 – 2017) – Black Mountain, NC -Asheville Citizen-Times

Mr. Pellom was born May 4, 1928, in DeKalb County, GA to the late John and Julian Pellom. He was a member of First Baptist Church, Black Mountain where he served as a greeter. John was a merchant in Black Mountain for 68 years, working in his father’s watch shop starting in 1949 making and repairing watches. He was a member of the Black Mountain Masonic Lodge and the Junior Order.

John loved Black mountain and the people that were not only his friends but those that visited.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Donald Sensing August 20, 2019, 6:48 AM

    One of your best ever, which I ripped off almost in its entirety in my own “rest of the story” visit to Pellom’s Time Shop where he showed me the time of my life.

  • Phil in Englewood August 20, 2019, 3:17 PM

    Thank you, Gerard, and thank you Donald Sensing for a wonder-full mediation and “rest of the story.”
    Gives life perspective, and makes the tears in rain all the more precious.


  • John Venlet December 2, 2021, 12:09 PM


    • gwbnyc December 2, 2021, 12:13 PM


  • Dirk December 2, 2021, 6:02 PM

    Time shop. Have a natural fascination with clock shops. Which reminds me, I’ve not been to the one mentioned,,,,, however “ Our” Time Shop exists in a small town titled Sisters Oregon. Maybe thirty miles n/elf Bend Oregon, off of highway 20.

    Shits old, really old in this shop. The clock meister is a cross between a Hobbit, and Tomas Jefferson, a fascinating man. His sons been a fixture in the time shop as the Hobbit, ages.

    Imaging Gandalf, thick eye brows willowy hair, playful gray eyes, with a very curious mischievous nature,,,,,, truly a gentleman. Could be a champion on Jeopardy, if he chose. Anyway my wife Carole’s grandfather was a machinist from France, then he worked British Aircraft in Tangiers Morocco WWI

    Then off to LA, where he built up a airspace machine shop from scratch.

    When he retired he chose to build clocks for his children and grandchildren. About fifteen yrs ago, a cousin was throwing her Grandfathers hand built coco clock away. Just happened to be in Sisters Oregon. Hold the phone, I’ll be right there WE want this awesome piece of Mackenstadt history.

    I called the Time Shop and made arrangements to drop the stunning old clock off for surgery, a tune up.

    Not old maybe 1942 ish, it’s an interesting mix of a lot things. This clocks housing is hardly square, actually amusing to look at. Can understand why my wife’s cousin wanted to throw it out.

    It’s so imperfect. Which is exactly why I wanted it. This clock reminds me of my walk thru life, so imperfect, so fragile, I had to have it. Turns out Jean Baptiste Chaud,,,,used the inner workings of an earlier clock to rebuild this clock,,,,,,the clock works were much much older. Fortunately for us, our time shops owner had the inspiration, the tools,,, the knowledge to make her as good as new.

    Our clocks gone 22 yrs without a tune up, which the clock needs. Gandalfs, gone now to an inner world, but his sons now a master clock man, kinda fun, he’s transitioned into his father, he looks exactly like his father. Awesome really. It just fits!

    When our grandfather clock chimes I clearly hear Big Ben chiming, it’s just fun. From midnight to sunup, I see in my minds eye,,,,,, the early community watchman, calling it’s 200, and alls well, it’s 300, and alls well.

    It’s tune up time, for our old friend to be refurbished stem to stern. Won’t be cheap, using original equipment, original kit IS the only way this fine old imperfect time machine can be redone.

    This wonderful old clock is family, gives us its opinion everyday on the hour and ever quarter hour. Makes us smile.

    How something so simple can provide such great influence, in our lives, makes zero sense, which makes it perfect for us.

    Dirk and Carole

    • Terry December 2, 2021, 6:28 PM

      Thanks Dirk. I have a chain fuse’ run clock that is from around 1900 that needs a tune-up. It is a piece built by Steam Clock Company in England. That company is still in business. The last tune-up done on my clock was over 40 years ago. It is a beautiful piece and means much to me.

      I live in east central Idaho. Not that distant from Sisters, Oregon. I will call the clock shop tomorrow.

  • Mike Austin December 3, 2021, 3:24 AM

    Donald Sensing’s sermon spoke directly to me, to my heart and to my soul. Among many things, it reminded me of this:

    “My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf
    So it stood ninety years on the floor
    It was taller by half than the old man himself
    And it weight not a penny’s weight more
    It was bought on the morn that my grandpa was born
    And was always his treasure and pride
    But it stopped short never to go again
    When the old man died.

    At watching its pendulum swing to and fro
    Many hours he had spent as a boy
    As he grew into manhood the clock seemed to know
    For it shared every sorrow and joy
    And it struck twenty-four as he entered the door
    With his beautiful and blushing bride
    But it stopped short never to go again
    When the old man died.”

    • ghostsniper December 3, 2021, 1:01 PM

      I went to an elementary school in Pennsylvania where ALL the students learned how to sing and play rudimentary instruments and did so frequently, especially at Christmas. My Grandfathers Clock was one of the many songs we sung. Waltzing Matilda was another, and then there was the Kookaburra song. Now I have 3 earworms going on at the same time….have I set a new world record?

      • Mike Austin December 3, 2021, 4:16 PM

        Ghost: I have all three songs memorized forever. Like you I learned them from a young age. Sixty years on, I still can sing them from a memory of long ago and far away.

        “Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
        Merry merry king of the bush is he.
        Laugh kookaburra! Laugh kookaburra!
        Gay your life must be.”

  • Jack December 3, 2021, 7:43 AM

    Wonderful tale, superbly told. Thank you GVL and DS and God bless each of you.

  • LP December 3, 2021, 5:14 PM

    “This is why you should be careful of how you spend time in the first place.” More true words were never spoken. There was a brief time in my life when I spent my time well. That was the time I spent caring for my children in the best way I knew how, and that investment paid off well, and they all four grew up healthy and happy. All of the rest of my time I attempted to spend well, but there hasn’t been any metric to tell if it was worthwhile or not. It all disappeared. Only the time that I spent raising my children has been measurable. I think.