By Connie and Lynn Baer
On Friday, Oct. 16, Grossmont High School will celebrate its 95th anniversary. In honor of that celebration, we present the fourth in a series of five columns sharing pieces of our amazing history, this time focusing on one of Grossmont’s prized artifacts: the 1922 original school clock.
While we were researching the clock’s history, several alumni shared their memories of the clock in the granite “castle.” According to Virginia Kouns Embry, the clock in 1949 was in the office where the switchboard was located. Embry’s mother, Edna Swink Kouns (class of 1932) remembers the clock hanging directly ahead as she entered the office. In the GHS 1925 yearbook, El Recuerdo, a feature entitled “Calendar” personifies the clock with these words: “September 8. Once again I have been wound and started in order to keep watch over the various things which happen to high school students. School has opened and I am not lonesome as usual.”
In the late 1950s, when the “castle” became the district office, the clock was moved to the GHS Art Building and hung in the Maple Room, a meeting room named for its maple furniture. The clock was later moved to the high school office. Today the clock hangs in its temporary location while the new Student Support Services building is under construction. Eventually, in the entryway of the new building, it will once again welcome Foothillers to the campus where thousands of students have walked.
Sometime after 1932, the clock was altered and the pendulum removed, and other adaptations and tapes were installed to drive the school bells. Two years ago, we began a quest to restore the clock. James Simpson, of La Mesa’s Time and Treasures, directed us to his colleagues in Los Angeles; there, two men worked to enable the clock to tick as it did in 1922.
In the summer of 2014, Jim Krause and Alan Bloore, members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Chapter 133 Western Electrics of Southern California, donated hours of their time to restore the clock. They also located a pendulum and a classroom clock from the era to complete the restoration. We are grateful for the expertise and the generosity that brought the clock back to life.
The renovated clock and companion clock along with a bronze plaque honoring its restoration now hang in the Attendance Office. As present and future Foothillers hear the ticking of the clock, they will reflect on the number of students and staff members who have gazed on the face of the clock as it directed their school day and on the men who restored it.
To see the clock in person, plan ahead to join us Friday, Oct. 16, when we celebrate Grossmont High School’s remarkable history.
Visit the museum to learn more about GHS, past and present. The museum’s hours are noon to 4 p.m. on Sept. 2 and Oct. 7, or by appointment.