It has labored hard these late 75 years, keeping time, giving the birds a place to rest and years ago, chiming its large bronze bell.
Of course, a clock is of no use unless it's properly taken case of, set and wound, so sample credit must be given to the courthouse engineer, Joe Saberniak, who has its winding as one of his many jobs.
Joe must climb seven floors to the clock tower but he usually takes a rest when he gets to the floor where the big bell hangs. The bell is inscribed "McShane Bell Foundry, Henry McShane and Company, Baltimore, Md., 1878." Although the bell is still in good shape, the weight which must be pulled up for the bell to sound is out of condition. Therefore, for safety's safe, the bell is no longer rung.
Thirty feet of ladder must be climbed to get to the clock. There in a small room, behind a wooden door is the heart of the giant clock, ticking melodiously. It resembles the inside workings of a clock 10 times magnified. There Joe attaches a large crank into the side of the machine and, with real manual labor, winds up the old timepiece. The winding brings the large weight (about 1,000 pounds) up a cable pulley. As the clock keeps time the weight slowly drops. Joe winds the clock twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays, although it will run all week without winding. He says it's too much work to wind it all at once.
In the clock tower there is a door that opens on to a ledge wide enough for a man to walk around the clock. The clock face is made of tin and its hands are wooden. Sometimes the clock gets a little slow when ice or snow cakes on the hands and then he must go out and set the clock, Joe says.
Extending from the ledge is a ladder that goes up to the base of the flag pole. Joe must also climb this ladder to put out the flag, when asked if he minds the height, he exclaimed, "I'm not afraid!" Could it be, he feels closer to heaven?
Located behind the wooden door along with the clock mechanism is also an electric device that turns on the lights around the clock face at night.
From the ledge around the clock, one can see the entire city in winter, and in summer all you see are trees. You can see, however, as far as the Gary steel mill smoke stacks.
The faithful old timepiece took a rest for about two or three days in 1907 after 25 years of constant work. An article in the STAR told of how the townspeople missed its loud, bellowing strike.
Joe Saberniak has served as chief engineer of the courthouse for 17 years. He was born in Cedar Lake, but now lives at 409 West South street. He has been a resident of Crown Point since 1939. As chief engineer, Joe also takes care of the lights, the yard and any other general work around the building. He has two children. Don, 24, who owns a partnership in the Cedar Lake airport service station, and Arlene 20, who works for Calumet Title company.
Joe Claims he has taken many courthouse workers up to see the clock and they all seemed to have enjoyed it -- even the ladder climbing.
And so ends the story up-to-date of the courthouse clock, and as we leave it ticking loudly it seem to say, "If you think you have worked long and hard, I'll match you".
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