Although Jimmy Buffet is almost correct when he sings “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” now it’s only five o’clock twice a day at UGAMI. The 1937 Seth Thomas clock on the front of the Main Lab building had been stopped for many years; its antique gears had worn out and its hands constantly insisted that it was 5:00. Then one day last year, UGAMI’s assistant director for operations, Jacob Shalack, contacted Elderhorst Bells, Inc., a company in Pennsylvania that manufactures and restores large outdoor clocks, to find out if it would be possible to replace the damaged gears. After exchanging a few emails, the folks at Elderhorst determined that the clock movement (the mechanism that controls the hands) was not original and that the best thing to do was to replace the clock movement rather than just the gears. Thanks to funds raised by the Friends of UGAMI and the hard work of some dedicated UGAMI staff, we were able to resume the normal progress of time on Sapelo Island. UGAMI’s auto mechanic, E.C. Harrell, spent a lot of time climbing inside the wall of the auditorium to extricate the old clock movement and install the new one. Our facilities manager, Jason Johnson, wired the new movement and electronic control box. On a separate yet related note, research technician Tim Montgomery restored the bell in the cupola to a functioning state.
In the grand scheme of maintaining and renovating the facilities at UGAMI, the clock and bell may be small pieces of the puzzle. But they are tangible symbols of UGAMI’s rejuvenation.