Refurbishing clocks has been the lifestyle for most of Chuck McKinney’s 78 years.
His father and grandfather, from Bandy, Kentucky, were both clock repairman.
As a youth, and in later years, Chuck’s mind was on fixing clocks. In later years, as a professional, he refurbished rare clocks like Herchedes and Ansonias.
At one time, he had two shops, one in Franklin across the river in an IGA store, and he built a place in Carlisle for his business.
“It is something fun, and you bring them back to life,” said McKinney who lives in Carlisle, and today has his refurbished clocks at Springboro Flea Market in Franklin.
“It was what I always wanted to do. I made a good living all my life,” said McKinney.
He named his business “Swiss American Clock and Watch Repair” in 1967 when he got out of the Air Force after 2 tours.
“I was more serious when I came out of the service,” he said.
McKinney enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1959 when he was 18 years old and married to Linda Back from Carlisle.
“I was going to join (Air Force) for 20 years. I went for 2 tours (Vietnam) and I realized if I went back to Vietnam, I wouldn’t have made it back,” he said.
He was a sergeant when he left the Air Force in 1967.
When McKinney had basic training in Texas, the Air Force sent him to technical school. He traveled to Korea and then to Michigan, where they sent him to another tech school for advanced training.
Chuck and Linda’s son was born in Michigan, and they all went to Japan where their daughter was born. After Japan, Linda McKinney went back to Carlisle. Their youngest daughter was born in Middletown, Ohio.
Chuck and Linda McKinney will be married 60 years in November. Besides 3 children, they have 3 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
When Chuck McKinney got out of the service, he began going on job interviews. He said he could not find anything.
“No one wanted to hire a veteran,” he said.
He had a couple of little jobs.
“I got my tools and went back into the watch-making business—one location was in Franklin and the other in Carlisle,” he said. “When I was younger I just played around with it (watch making), but when I got out of the service I was smarter, knew more about it and could make a living out of it.”
As a child, McKinney’s parents were separated. As a boy, he lived with his dad in Bandy, Kentucky, (south of Lexington) till he was 8-9-years-old.
In 1950 John “J.M.” Rowe, his stepfather, brought Chuck to Franklin, Ohio, to raise. Chuck’s mother was in Chicago and moved around continuously. Chuck would stay with his dad a couple of months during school vacation.
Rowe had two restaurants, a truck stop on Erie Boulevard in Hamilton and Engle’s Corner Truck Stop, south of Middletown. When Chuck was 10-11 years old he helped out by mopping floors, doing dishes and helping make hamburgers.
Last year, Chuck McKinney was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He said medicine seems to control it.
He sold his business June 2017. Before he sold it, he had 210 clocks and he had collected 6,200 pocket watches.
In December 2017, he took the remainder of his clocks to Springboro Flea Market, 315 Conover Drive, in Franklin. He has 3 grandfather clocks, a 1922 Herschedes, small wall clocks and several pocket watches.
Chuck McKinney enjoys being at the flea market, but he misses having all of his clocks and refurbishing them.
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