Time to shop locally

November 21, 2008
By

DAVID TABER


Gazette Photo by David Taber
Mayor Thomas Menino greets members of the crowd at the unveiling of the new clock in front of Citizens Bank at 696 Centre St. on Nov. 6.

Mechanical clock unveiled

JP CENTER—Mayor Thomas Menino presided over three ribbon-cuttings along Centre Street Nov. 8: one to unveil a new clock in front of Citizens Bank at 696 Centre St. and two to celebrate the opening of new businesses—the Real Deal at 736 Centre St. and Salmagundi at 765 Centre St.

“During tough economic times, please shop locally,” the Mayor said at the clock unveiling. “Malls are all the same.”

The clock, a replica of the original mechanical clock installed at the same location in the 1930s, is meant to add to JP Centre’s unique charm.

“It’s like walking back into time,” said Michael Epp, head of the JP Centre/South Main Streets (JP CSMS) Design Committee, which played a leading role in getting the new clock installed. The project was funded by the city and Citizens Bank.

The event was a personal stroll down memory lane for (JP CSMS board member Richard Downey. “My auntie, Jane Callahan, taught me how to tell time on the clock,” he said.

That was in the 1970s, and it was actually on an electric clock that had by then replaced the old 1930s mechanical one.

“It just reminds me of my aunt, of lollipops at the Five Cent Savings Bank, of childhood and happy times,” he said. Citizens Bank bought out Boston Five Cent Savings Bank in 1993.

Callahan still lives in JP, Downey said.

In the first week after its unveiling, residents experienced the clock’s historical nature in yet another way. The mechanical timepiece has to be hand-wound, and it has been running slow, the Gazette observed.

It is unclear who is responsible for making the clock run on time.

Epp told the Gazette that Design Committee member John Dalzell is coordinating the winding. Dalzell did not return Gazette phone calls for this story.

Dalzell had previously told the Gazette he hoped to recruit community activist Michael Reiskind to wind the clock. Reiskind also did not return phone Gazette calls.

Jeffrey Ferris, who owns Ferris Wheels bike shop on South Street, and winds the church tower clock at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Eliot Street, has been floated by some as another potential clock-winder. An employee answering the phone at Ferris’s shop last week said Ferris was not available to talk because he was on vacation.