Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When an iconic hometown clock stops...

To follow up on my last post about the demolition of the old building that once housed Niam's Parkette,  I happened to read in a western Pennsylvania newspaper that the century-old town clock in my hometown has stopped. Another reminder that, as my art history professor once conceded of a flaking fresco, "things don't last forever."

Now that might not sound like big news for most folks who can consult their I-clocks, but the clock high up on the United Methodist Church tower along Main Street was the final arbiter in calibrating the precise movement of Mt. Pleasant's residents.  I passed it each day on my way to school and its silent arms told me whether I should walk faster to arrive on time. It was all part of a day's small-town existence.

At night,  eerily lit round faces that looked out in four directions signaled a sort of eternal guardianship over a town in repose.  The stores on Main Street had closed, but life was secure for another night so long as the clock was peering out over its people.

The problem now, according to church officers, is that the 40-year-old motor that had replaced an earlier one is broken and is irreplaceable because nobody makes them anymore.  So plan B will be  an attempt to fix the old one that runs all four faces.   That will be the challenge to the borough because for some reason it and not the church owns the iconic timepiece.

If I were to sit down for coffee with some of my old hometown acquaintances, I can assure you the fate of that clock would quickly enter the conversation.    Mayor Gerald Lucia  told the paper that it is already the talk of the town.

"The clock has been a monument  in Mt. Pleasant for years, and it is a symbol of the fact that from the time of being a child and growing up through the years you always looked to the clock to see the time,"  he said. "Believe me, since it hasn't worked, many people have asked 'When are you going to fix the clock?'"

Somehow it's good to know that there are some local concerns that can temporarily relieve us of  thinking about the zoo on Capitol Hill, where time also seems to have stopped.

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