The Clock on Main Street, Mackay (1919)

Old timers know about and new comers are sure to have noticed the old board building on the east side of Mackay's Main Street next door to the City Hall. The old Clock Cigar Shop, with its square type architectural building front so common to early day business, may well be one of Mackay's oldest landmarks. Its board and batt sinding, peeling white paint and cracked and broken windows give evidence to tits age, and it's been said that it was moved to its present location from the old town of Houston with the coming of the railroad early in the 1900's. It is known that one of its first occupants was the Mackay Miner Newspaper who operated their print shop in the building until 1917.

It's quite likely that most old timers will remember more, the elaborate clock that stood like a sentinel on the sidewalk in front of the small building from whence the cigar shop took its name. You see, after the newspaper moved to new quarters and before it became a cigar shop, the small building housed the jewelry store of a Mr. E. Frank.

According to information in the Mackay Miner newspaper, in February of 1919, jeweler Mr. Frank had a unique clock mounted outside his shop to bring attention to his business and provided the city with a community timepiece. The clock was 14 feet tall, the lighted dial measured 30 inches in diameter, and was adorned with three street lamp type lights. Its night time appearance was especially eye-catching. He boasted that it may have been the only one like it in the state and similar to one on Broadway in New York City. Power for the clock and its lights was supplied by the Mackay Power and Light Co., but what made the clock unique was that it had no clock workings inside its lighted dial. The hands were driven and controlled through wires from a master clock works inside the store. Mackay had done it again! An electric power system and a main street with street lights put the town far ahead of its time, but the street clock, was really something extra.

Ownership of the the shop, and the clock, through the years is sketchy. Charles Donnelly was proprietor during the 1930's and later the names of Bert Kent and Elmer Peterson have been mentioned. The date of the change form jewelry store to cigar shop isn't exactly known either, but in 1933 with the repeal of prohibition, ads in Mackay Miner touted the Clock Cigar Shop as one of the first establishments to offer draft and bottle beer. Old timers tell of a time when the place sported pool and billiards tables, a good game of poker, and as the ads suggested, a place "where you may while away your idle hours". According to some, the rear of the building was once used as an ice house and stories persist of a cess pool that was ;located behind the shop into which a horse , and another time a "revenuer", became stuck. Though the horse was promptly pulled out, the unlucky prohibition agent received a less than speedy rescue.

How long the old street clock remained a fixture on Main Street is a bit of a mystery. Photographic evidence indicate its existence into the early 1940's, but nothing later has been found to shed light on when it may have come down. One story uncovered indicated that it came down the result of a confrontation with a truck maneuvering into a parking spot on Main Street; with the truck winning. Another possibility suggested was that it came down in 1955 when the old street lights were replaced with the present, more up to date fixtures. But whatever the date or circumstances of its demise, it doesn't take much effort to imagine the prominence it must have added to Mackay's Main Street in that earlier time.


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