Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Missing Willoughby clock still will need a good name

I’ve got an idea.

I uttered those words in 10th grade plane geometry class and the teacher, never at a loss for words, responded, “Treat it kindly.”

The late Alice Barkow, a nice lady, always did have a way with words. And she was smiling when she said it, so I knew there was no malice intended.

But it is several years later now, and my current idea has nothing to do with geometry. It is about a clock.

Some time ago I wrote a column about the clock atop the Cleveland Trust Building at the corner of Erie Street and Second Street in Downtown Willoughby.

The clock graced the front of that building for longer than anyone knows. Generations came along, grew up depending on the clock for the time of day, and went about their business.

Oh, there were wrist watches in those days, but many citizens preferred to look at the clock on the Cleveland Trust Building to learn what time it was.

One day the clock disappeared. Well, it many not have been one day. It may have taken several days to remove it. But it is no longer there.

So I heard from a number of people asking me to find it — as if I had any idea where it was. There is a spirited movement not only to find the clock, but to name it, much in the manner in which the stately clock that graces the campus at Lakeland Community College has a name.

The Raymond Armington Clocktower was named for a Great American who helped establish the college in 1967.

It is a commendable act of community spirit and good will to name a clock – especially after a contributor to the community weal.

If the Cleveland Trust clock were in Kirtland they could call it the Hornet Clock in honor of the football team, but it is not. It is in Downtown Willoughby. So, it will have to be named something else.

It should be named and found. It hasn’t been found yet.

At least, as far as I know it hasn’t been found. I expect they are still looking.

I advanced several theories and possible hiding places, including the barn in Madison where the ashes of Elliot Ness were found.

The problem is, there are only two or three people who know where that barn is located, and they aren’t telling. So the search goes on.

Serving as point people in the vanguard of historians who are attempting to re-install the clock in the Cleveland Trust Building, once it has been found, are Don and Pat Lewis, whose knowledge of the area in general and downtown Willoughby is legendary.

They are still looking for the clock.

Bob Carr, a member of Willoughby City Council, sent me a note asking if I would care to comment on the missing clock. I would – and did. That was of no help. The hunt continues.

Meanwhile, the movement to select an appropriate name for the clock should continue apace. I reason that it would be much easier to find the clock if it had a name.

So here is my suggestion: I think it should be named in honor of American Legion Post 214 in Willoughby.

What could be more appropriate than naming it for a fine, patriotic, upstanding organization that honors our country’s veterans by paying tribute to them 365 days a year.

The seed of this thought was planted in my mind as I was seated at the head table at Palmer-Roberts Post 214 preparing to offer some remarks on Veterans Day — a holiday that is very important, because without our nation’s veterans we wouldn’t have a Fourth of July, Thanksgiving or Memorial Day to celebrate.

Our veterans, through their devoted military service, have defended us against our aggressors and preserved the nation so future generations can have the luxury of enjoying the country’s blessings.

The person who planted the seed of naming the clock for the American Legion post was Jim Trettin, the post adjutant and a very active member of the organization.

It was Martha Setlock, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, who invited me to make some remarks at the dinner. She was so kind as to say afterwards that I was “very entertaining.” That made me feel warm all over.

But we still need to name the clock – and then find it.

So I nominate “American Legion Post 214” as the official name of the clock. Now, let’s get about finding it.


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