Sunday, February 04, 2007

Stopped Clocks

The image of a stopped clock was a device often used in old films to signal the time of a dire event.

Plainfield has two stopped clocks downtown that mark not disasters but processes that seem to be stuck in time. One is the Park Jewelers street clock in the new plaza at Front Street and the other is nearby high up on the wall of PNC Bank.

The street clock was supposed to be refurbished and relocated as part of the Park-Madison office building project. A planning report notes this as one of more than two dozen incomplete items that the Union County Improvement Authority agreed to do at the time of approval for the project. See Plaintalker’s article here.

At PNC, formerly United National Bank, the handsome Roman-numeral wall clock has been stuck at two minutes to eight o’clock for several years now. Plainfield was stung by the relocation of United National Bank headquarters to Bridgewater several years ago. Since then, the bank still serves customers, but has a faded look.

The bank had been remodeled in 1926 in Classical Revival style, with red marble columns and bronze tellers’ cages, according to “Plainfield: 300 Years.” The interior is hopelessly out of date by modern banking standards, but its fate has not yet been declared. It is on a block that may become part of the expanded North Avenue redevelopment area.

Personally, while waiting in line at PNC, this writer likes to gaze at the cherubs and griffins on the ceiling and wonder how people dust the leafy capitals atop the two-story columns.

As for the street clock, I was a bit shocked last year to see the door to its innards hanging open and a smashed raw egg inside, along with other debris. Surely it can be secured while the powers that be work out its fate.

Another stock image from old movies is a calendar with its pages flying off to show the passage of time. A lot of time has passed since officials began mulling plans for the bank and for the street clock. Maybe 2007 will turn out to be the right time for positive change.

--Bernice Paglia


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