Tuesday, January 03, 2006

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Continuing to Look Back ~ Gloucester City Hall
Memories from Peter Todd

I am going to attempt to take you on a City Hall tour. Let us begin our journey from the top.

Of course we have the City Hall Bell. While its date I am not sure of, but I do know it was a gift of Samuel Sawyer. I had the honor during my time as Custodian of City Hall to ring the bell. I requested permission from Mayor Bruce Tobey to be able to ring the bell at noon every day. I even figured out a way of stringing a rope all the way to the landing next to the Mayors office. I had the sad honor of ringing the bell thirty three times as Freddy Kyrouz's funeral procession left the Saint Ann's Church and reached City Hall on the Dale Avenue side.

Traveling back to the tower and below the bell we have the four faces of the City Hall clock, which in these days is run by a small electric motor sitting on a large cast iron stand. One day I decided to see what was underneath this black stand, gifted again by Samuel Sawyer. I used three gallons of ammonia, along with degreaser and cold water. To my amazement this once black four-legged stand became a beautiful green painted stand with gold etchings. These etchings represented the four seasons of the year, one on each leg. It was also my distinct pleasure to climb up the tower several times.

One year when my granddaughter Ashley was small, she noticed that the Christmas lights were out in the round windows at the top. To make her happy we both ventured to climb to the top to fix the lights - mind you, the wind was blowing a gale and the tower was swaying - but this did not deter us from our mission.

Moving down the stairs we come into the inner or upper sanctum of the Fred Kyrouz Auditorium. I remember each time I had to change a bulb it took one hundred turns of the crank for the globe to touch the hall floor. It would take about one hour to clean and change and put back each fixture.

Speaking of fixtures, there was one time when a man came in to fix the clock above the rear of the Chamber. He told me not to worry, that it was run by a small motor just like the one in the Tower. We proceeded to climb to ladders, one on each side of the clock. Much to our surprise we found after unbolting the face, that it was made of solid marble, which accidentally dropped in our hands, just by our fingertips . Since this face weighed so much it was not long we were both in pain trying to hold it up from falling. The man and I began to holler for help, and eventually our hollering turned into screaming, but soon the DPW crew saved us. What a relief.

So now to end this I must bring up one point of my history in City Hall. A couple years back there was a picture of a Marble Directory in the Times which was found, however it was found only after I saw this black slab in back of the City Hall Boiler. Upon cleaning it with ammonia, degreaser and scolding hot water, the reality of this directory was in full view, upon which I was able to slide this slab from the back of the furnace, to the entrance of the boiler room door, thus the picture in the paper.

That's it for now, but I still have more to come.

Posted December 31, 2004 11:25 AM
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