Though our move into the Archie K. Davis Center went very smoothly, we did have one casualty. Special care was taken to transport our grandfather clock, but to no avail. The weight cables sprang loose from the drums, and the clock no longer ran.
Now this was a tragedy, for it was no ordinary clock. It was built in Salem in the early 19th century by Ludwig Eberhardt, Salem’s master clockmaker. It had ticked a familiar heartbeat in the hallway of the old Archives House for we don’t know how many years.
Moreover, in designing the new Davis Center, the architects carefully planned a central spot for our grandfather clock between the entrance gallery and the two-story reading room. But now the clock stood in its designated spot, silent, useless. The Archives had lost its heartbeat.
And then a miracle occurred.
On September 7, 2001, even before we re-opened after the move, Norman and Louise Boyden appeared at our doors. Since we weren’t ready to receive the public yet our first inclination was to shoo them off.
On learning that they had come from Vermont it seemed heartless to turn them away, so we opened the doors of the Davis Center to our first researchers. A brief study showed that the Archives could not assist the Boydens in their genealogical pursuit. But they could definitely help the Archives.
As they turned to leave, Mr. Boyden spied our grandfather clock. The conversation went something like this:
Mr. Boyden: “Nice old clock you have there.”
Archives: “Yeah, but it’s busted.”
Mr. B.: “Oh? May I look?”
Now would you let any jackanapes who wandered in from the street touch your precious 175-year-old clock even if it was busted?
Mr. B.: “I’m a clockmaker. I’ve been repairing clocks for 39 years. I’ll repair it for free.”
In less than an hour, Mr. Boyden had our grandfather clock well inspected, well oiled, rewound, and ticking. The Archives once again had its familiar heartbeat.