With nothing but the sound of traffic outside on Broadway and the intermittent chiming of clocks inside of Old Timers, an antique clock and repair store, at 1192 Broadway in Hewlett, Mark Lindenbaum sat at his workstation toward the back of the store and repaired a clock made in the 1870s by Connecticut-based Ansonia Brass and Copper Company.
As documented in a 1975 publication called Antique Almanac, Old Timers was originally located across the street at 1193 Broadway where Lindenbaum, 67, and the store’s owner and sole employee, was renting the space and the business was known as Timely Treasures. In the late ’70s, he decided to move across the street to have his own place and changed the name to Old Timers.
“It’s in the blood,” Lindenbaum said, a self-taught clock expert, of his affinity towards repairing antique, windup pieces. His grandfather, Joseph Schneier, came to the U.S. from Romania in 1913 at the age of 18 after he was unable to find work because he was Jewish. Schneier repaired phonographs, radios and later televisions and other mechanical items, but “he never went near a clock,” Lindenbaum said.
Lindenbaum, originally from Brooklyn, has also lived in Far Rockaway, Gibson and now Hewlett, has been in business for 42 years on Broadway in Hewlett. He buys, sells and repairs antique clocks from the 19th and 20th centuries and wind up watches from the 1930s through ’50s. The owner added that 80 percent of the merchandise in the store is for sale and the other items are what he repairs. “It’s been an interesting trip,” he said of his experiences with generations of customers over the years. “It appears that the younger generation, those in their 20s and 30s, don’t really seem to be interested,” he added, of the appeal and value of his merchandise.
When asked about what kinds of repairs he often needs to make, Lindenbaum explained: “We’re dealing with an age issue. Nothing is made to last for eternity and eventually everything does wear out or break or malfunction.” When a customer enters his store seeking a repair, Lindenbaum considers four things: what is wrong with the clock, what it is worth, what it means to the customer and how much it will cost to repair. He prides himself on his honesty to admit to some clients that the fix is not worth the investment.
“I just love his selection,” customer Abbe Reichman, of Hewlett, said, “Every time you come in here, he has different clocks.” She bought a schoolhouse clock about three years ago from Old Timers. It’s a wall clock traditionally commonplace timekeepers for schoolhouses, that was made in the 1880s. As someone who is interested in antiques, she noted Lindenbaum’s expertise, referred to him as a historian and emphasized his knowledge of clocks.
Lindenbaum bought the clock that is in the front window of the store in 1985. He had a frame made for it, put on an old pair of hands that he had, darkened the numbers by hand using a deep black ink, put in an electric motor, cleaned the glass and bought letters from a local sign maker to add his name and the word “clockmaster” to the face.
More than 40 years ago, Lindenbaum worked in retail pharmacy and education. Both of those avenues were not for him, he said, and a majority of his working life has been spent at Old Timers. “When they [customers] buy something here, they know I stand behind it and that I’ll take care of it,” Lindenbaum said, “I’m as thorough as anybody can possibly be in the repair and operation of what I have to do.”