Spruce Pine man restores PCHS’ vintage clock
By Nicole Burns for the FCT
“I just like fixing old clocks and watches. It’s been my hobby for 28 years.”
Luck and a passion to restore old-time pieces helped Tommy King of Spruce Pine salvage a piece of Phil Campbell history. Just before the storms of 2011 destroyed the school, administrators were doing some spring-cleaning around campus. An old clock that had once been hooked to the old school’s bell system was about to be tossed since it was no longer in working order.
“When I saw it in the toss pile, I asked if I could take it home,” said Phil Campbell High School teacher Tina King. “My father-in-law loves working on and fixing up antique clocks. I knew this was a piece of history that needed to be saved.”
So she took the old clock to her husband’s father to see if he could breathe new life in it. But when the tornado hit the town of Phil Campbell in April 2011, clocks and history didn’t seem so important. Survival was the mindset.
Fast forward four years, and the school and town not only survived but thrived. As administrators moved into the newly-built, state-of-the-art facility, remembering and cherishing where PCHS came from was again in the forefront of minds. Tommy King, however, never stopped work on that old Edwards Company clock.
Local historians think the clock was likely installed in the previous building when it was built in 1954 after the previous buildings burned. PCHS Principal Gary Odom remembers the clock hanging in the hallway when he attended school. “It didn’t work when I was in the seventh grade,” said Odom.
“It needed cleaning and rewiring. That’s the big thing,” King said. He also said he wanted to find a special way to display the clock. “Our song director at church, Ed Cothrum, made the display box. I told him what I was doing with it, and so he donated it. I donated my time.”
“I didn’t want to take the paint off it because it wouldn’t have looked the same,” said King.
“It’s part of the history of it,” said Odom.
King waited until students were settled in their new building before presenting the vintage clock. It now hangs in the school’s trophy case at the center of the school.
King said that’s fine with him. “It doesn’t matter where they hang it. I just enjoyed working on it.”