Pieces of the Past — What Time is It?

February 14, 2024

I was forwarded a message from “Ken” who commented on my piece about the Flatiron building. He mentioned that the clock on the steeple could easily become as iconic as the building itself. True. But unlikely. The reasons for that are many.

Not only are some, perhaps most of the clock’s parts, made of wood, but the tower is a good lightning rod. The most recent strike blew bricks into the street and onto a parked car. The bolt took out key ham radio equipment that serves as one of Warren’s emergency communications links. The clock is not publicly owned. The repair bill would go to the landlord. There was a time that it worked but I never trusted it to be very accurate. Once Northwest installed the time-temperature sign, the clock was unnecessary. One other fact was called to my attention: Many younger people don’t know how to read an analog clock!

The clock inquiry sent me to the corner of 3rd and Hickory Streets. That’s where Blair’s clock stands. I used to walk the 200 feet or so from the radio station door to the corner and look north. The Blair clock was visible from there and usually less than a minute or so off. Today most cell phones are “atomic clocks”. They are either directly connected via radio signals to America’s official clock in Ft. Collins, Colorado, or to an internet source that is connected to the same system.

Should your cellphone die and you desperately need to know the exact time within milliseconds you can LISTEN to the atomic clock on WWV in Ft. Collins. Almost any radio covering the shortwave bands will pick it up! Just tune to 2.5 MHZ 5.0.MHZ. 10.0 MHZ. 15.0 MHZ or 20,0. Even a tiny transistor radio with the capability will work! I set my watch to it and even my cheap $10 watch keeps time well

The note from Ken didn’t sidetrack me. It DERAILED me! I started to research the Blair Clock and was inspired to start working on pieces about Blair. Hold on to something! A very good friend of mine was Blair’s official historian for their 100th anniversary.


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