The re-appearance of the newly restored Prairie State Bank clock has delighted many of us who remember when the downtown icon stood in the 400 block of State St.
There was no fanfare or dedication speeches for the familiar clock’s return, but many of us were excited upon hearing the beautiful chimes again.
When the clock was installed in January of 1940 at curbside in front of Prairie State Bank, it became a favorite downtown fixture.
The late Burl Allison told us in his book that there was trouble from the very beginning with keeping all four sides of the clock in sync, but our townspeople loved that clock anyway.
Through the years the clock was mentioned frequently in the Gazette, as well as appearing in bank advertisements and in the background of downtown photographs.
Sadly, the ravages of weather and neglect caught up with the clock and it stopped operating a number of years ago. The sight of the clock’s hands fixed permanently in time was a sad reminder of better days downtown.
After a half century of service and the bank not wishing to spend money on repairs, the clock was given to the Historical Society on the condition it would be moved from it’s location in front of the bank. So it sat on the grounds of the museum -- protected, but looking totally out of place.
It is hard to explain why and how people get attached to things, but for many of us the clock is an important part of the downtown landscape of our memories. We remember rushing around the busy downtown district -- banking, shopping at the numerous stores, seeing a doctor or dentist, taking in a movie, eating a meal, or stopping by a drugstore.
Everyone came to town on Saturday nights and I’ve been told that some folks even parked their cars early in the day simply to insure a good parking spot for the evening. No one wanted to miss the action downtown.
The clock was here when our young men marched off to battle on foreign soil -- some returning and some not.
It was here when our community stood against floods and fires.
It was here when throngs of residents would crowd the walks and street for festivals, parades and those wonderful sidewalk bazaars.
It was here when the refinery left -- taking jobs and residents, too.
It was here when long-time businesses closed and familiar faces left the scene.
It was still here when people stopped going downtown and decided to spend their money elsewhere.
And yet that dear old clock is looking handsome and distinctive once again -- just like our downtown area. The Streetscape improvements are bringing a new sense of pride.
The hands of time are moving forward again -- literally and figuratively for downtown Augusta. We all know that life can’t be like it was and neither can downtown, but we -- just like that grand old clock -- can be a tangible link with Augusta’s distinguished past and always work for a brighter future.
If you haven’t been downtown lately, take a moment to appreciate the return of a State Street landmark.