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21Country: The heartbeat of a house

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - “It’s an interesting story, on how it all came to be,” Kurt Schmidt said.

His statement is true.

Not many international commercial pilots end up pursuing another expertise, especially one as complex as horology.

“I am a clock maker,” he continued, “I don’t make clocks per say anymore, it’s more the restoration to sell, the servicing and repair work.”

Kurt planned for a drastic career change, after he was laid off in the months following 9/11.

“I was not able to find a flying job the world over.”

During his travels, Kurt picked up an interest in antiques on his flights to Europe.

He decided to study Horology at West Dean College.

It took two years to complete his studies.

Eventually though, he returned to aviation.

Now, he runs his clock restoration business on the side, sometimes even making house calls, to fix larger grandfather clocks.

“When you bring that back to life and you hear that ticking, and its usually in a central hallway, it becomes the heartbeat of that house,” Kurt described.

His home too, has a heartbeat of its own.

In fact several.

The soft and subtle chorus of ticking can be heard in every room.

Many of Kurt’s clocks are bought at auction, repaired by him, and later sold… though parting with each timepiece can be a challenge for him.

The horologist spends a lot of time in his basement workshop.

The gleaming skeletons of clocks often strewn out, and laid bare.

It’s there where this clock doctor brings his ‘patients’ back from the dead.

“As I’m working on the bench, and you’re doing whatever the repair is, and you’re testing you lose complete track of time,” Kurt shared, “which is a funny statement from a clock maker… there is no time keeping while its being repaired.”

When he reflects, his two career paths, horology and aviation, aren’t so different after all.

“I start to think about longitude and latitude and navigation, which is coexisting with time,” he said, “you wouldn’t have the navigation we have today in airplanes, the GPS and so forth, if you didn’t have the timekeeping.”

And his final takeaway from a hobby that forces him to think about every second?

“It makes me more conscious and aware of time in general, that we have on Earth,” Kurt said, “God has really blessed me with lots of different things to do, and I really appreciate all of those different things, and the time to be able to do all of those things.”

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Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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Brien McElhatten

Brien McElhatten anchors the evening weekday newscasts at ABC21. He also hosts and produces the ABC21 Daily podcast.

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