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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Keeping Time

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Clockwork repair part of CATS series at The Glen

Greenwood Mayor Frank Stawasz wears two hats in the town he governs.

Sworn in as mayor in 2012, Stawasz’s new office at Town Hall was just a short walk down the Greenwood Road sidewalk from Time-n-Chime, the shop where he continues to operate his longtime clockrepair business.

For more than three decades, Stawasz, 73, has made his living restoring clocks of various types.

His fascination with clocks began many years before he ever knew how to fix one, he said.

“I just always had an interest in mechanical things, and clocks were something that just kind of appealed to me because there are so many different kinds,” he said. “There is so much to look at in a clock.”

The mayor and horologist will be a featured speaker at 3 p.m. April 16 at The Glen Retirement System, 403 East Flournoy Lucas Road, in Shreveport. Stawasz will speak about restoring clocks as part of the retirement community’s monthly CATS series, which highlight events on culture, arts, technology and science. The series kicked off in March and will go through October with one event each month. Dates are April 16, May 21, June 18, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 17 and Oct. 15.

“In our programming we seek experts in their related fields to interpret the four themes that follow our CATS series. Each of our eight events are not only for entertainment but for interaction with the community,” Debra Williams, president and CEO of The Glen, said. “As he is well known for his business in Greenwood, we sought out Mayor Frank to share his talent and interest with our residents and the Shreveport community.”

As he grew more and more interested in the multi-faceted aspects of timepieces, Stawasz began finding and buying clocks that he liked, when he could afford them.

“You see the face and the hands and pendulum and the weight and drive, but there’s a whole bunch behind it that you don’t see,” he said. “There’s a lot of skills that go into clock-making. It’s more than just cutting brass … you’ve got the inlays and all the exotic woods that so many of the clockmakers over the history of time have done.”

There was one challenge with his new hobby, though — whenever one of his clocks broke, he didn’t know how to fix it.

“Every time I’d buy a clock, I had to hope that it was working, that everything was OK,” he said.

While living in California, Stawasz began learning about clock repair. He quickly began to feel that it would make a good business for him one day.

After moving back to the Greenwood area, Stawasz in 1981 began doing clock repairs out of his house. Two years later, he opened a shop in Pierremont Common on Line Avenue in Shreveport.

“From there, I built it to where we are today,” Stawasz said.

One day, Stawasz went to pay a water bill at Greenwood’s Town Hall and noticed that a building was for sale a block or so away.

“I thought that would be great; I would be close to the house,” he said. “Everyone told me that would be crazy — ‘You can’t open a clock shop in Greenwood, you’ll go broke.’” Stawasz bought the building anyway, and his mortgage per month was actually cheaper than the rent he had been paying in Shreveport, he said.

“It’s one of the better decisions I made,” he said. “I just slowly continued to build year after year. We worked hard, and we had bumps in the road; it wasn’t all easy sailing by any means.”

Stawasz has repaired and restored clocks for some notable people in the Shreveport area, he said, but it’s “the dayto-day folks” who have kept him in business and finding satisfaction in what he does.

“That person who has that special clock that belonged to maybe their grandmother, grandfather,” he said. “Lo and behold, it got passed down to them, and so now that clock is critical — they want it to work, and they don’t care what it costs within reason, because that represented a part of their growing up.”

Some of these clocks are 100 to 150 years old and cost maybe $5 when they were brand new, he said. But to many customers, the cost of repairing that special piece is priceless.

“Those are some of the things that are part of the satisfaction of the job — you have the opportunity to bring back a piece that came in just junk, for lack of a better description, but you’ve had an opportunity to put it back together,” Stawasz said. “I’ve had people who left literally with tears in their eyes because Grandma’s clock is now working.”

Stawasz’s presentation at The Glen is no charge and open to the public; however, space is limited. To learn more about The Glen’s CATS series, go the www. theglensystem.org/CATS.

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