It's about time!

By Ernie Branscomb

When The Garberville Rotary Club set out to repair the town clock it was with more than a little trepidation. It seems that there are always problems with any project. Fixing the town clock was not without complications.

It seemed that every time that we set out to fix it, something went wrong. It was either raining, hailing, snowing, or some other kind of inclement weather that made it less than a fun project. That, and we needed some kind of a lift platform, because the clock is 16 feet off the ground. The clock is also moderately heavy. Ladders were just not going to work.

Blue Star Gas graciously offered their commercial scissor-lift for the project, which added another factor. They had to be able to bring it to the location, the sun had to be shining, and somebody had to be able to work on the clock. We had not been able to put all of the factors together, so the clock has been wrong for quite some time.

The Garberville Rotary Club installed the original clocks back in 1994. Yes, there are two of them, a north clock, and a south clock. Even though the clocks were installed beautifully, there was a problem... they were installed with one power supply to both clocks. That was not a problem at first because they ran perfectly synchronized until just this last spring, when the clocks were advanced for Daylight Savings Time, at which time one clock advanced forward faster than the other. Then they locked back in synchronization again, but at different times. Drat!

To add to the problems, the clocks were installed under the shingles trimming them out. The only way to fix them was to remove the shingles, and remove the clock. Drat again!

While we had the clocks out, we rewired them with a separate circuit to each clock, each lighted clock face, and each fast-forward mechanism. We cleaned the clock mechanisms and reinstalled them. Yeah.

What we had not anticipated was the number of "sidewalk superintendents." Most people that walked by commented in some kind of way. The job became a real joy to be involved with.

After several humorous comments, I decided to start writing them down. As the people parted, they almost universally thanked us for our "time" repairing the clock.

I didn't really get all of them listed, but these are a few: Some of the older folks that remember the band "Chicago" commented, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" Quite a few people quipped, "It's about time." One person said, "don't drop it, time flies." Another said, "I see that you are working by the hour." One fellow whom I accused of using ageism said, "I see Father Time is working on his clock." There were so many "time" puns that I lost track of them all.

The most unique comment that I got was from one of Garberville's town characters: "You know that clock runs from the wire up north that goes through that bridge. They cut it you know... If you find a brief case with a hundred thousand dollars in it, it's mine. They put it up there." I replied that the wire in the bridge only ran the north clock and the wire that ran the south clock was cut in Santa Rosa, and that's why I was fixing them. Somewhat satisfied with my answer, he said, "Okay that's a good deal," and, he wandered off, somehow forgetting that I still had his hundred thousand dollars.

I had to laugh at myself because I checked to see what time it was several times while I was standing two feet in front of a three-foot diameter clock... I looked at my cell phone. We really don't need a town clock anymore. It is simply one of those anachronisms that have become a warm and fuzzy tradition. It just seems that every town needs a clock, whether we need it or not.

One thing that I learned while working on the clock is that most town clocks that have Roman numerals on the face have four Is (IIII) instead of IV for four o'clock. Now, just like me you will be checking clock faces for the four Is.°°

The clock repair was encouraged by an anonymous contributor who made a substantial contribution to have the clock repaired for his wife's birthday. So later on this spring the clock will also be painted.

The Rotary clock repair crew included Dennis O'Sullivan, Brian Harper, and (yours truly) Ernie Branscomb.

Have a good time.

photo caption:


The Garberville Rotary Club's town clocks are up and running thanks to Rotarian Ernie Branscomb seen here working on the timepiece.