CLOCKS – you have to love ’em!
You can’t really enjoy working in a clock shop if you don’t love clocks! Think about it – chimes, bells, ticking, tocking, whirring, cuckoos! Seriously, if you don’t love them, they’ll drive you crazy.
Then you need an eye for detail, plenty of patience, and steady hands. Otherwise you can’t touch the clock from the late 1800s!
Meet our crew and learn a bit about their love of clocks!
Owner: John Stephens
(Everyone who knows John knows this smile!)
I was one of those lucky individuals that stumbled upon my life’s work early on and have never looked back or had any strong wishes to have done things differently. Looking over my Dad’s shoulder as a teenager and lending a hand at times, I first saw what I wanted to do.
I still at times wonder why I was so smitten but I really was. I had always loved working with my hands turning junk or broken things into working items…. bikes to boats. My mother was ill the vast majority of the time I was old enough to appreciate her which interestingly enough played a big role in this budding interest.
Her illness drove my father to hermit himself in the basement fixing clocks for neighbors and gave him some sort of valve to let off the steam building up due to mom’s condition…. this kept clock-making in my sight and led to a trip that I took with her to explore Bowman Technical School in Lancaster PA. My Dad read of this unique school and offered to send me as I had nothing more interesting on my plate at 18 or so years old. So off we went on a trip together and, as it turned out, it was one of her last and one that I can clearly recall.
At Bowmans I had a moment, an experience that set it all into motion. I really had no great interest in clocks or their particular place or importance in the world, instead it was the tools that I was told I would make during my years there. In a case above the instructor’s bench, clearly displayed, were taps, dies, pivot polishes – all so small and intended to work on things so small you had a hard time seeing them. I did not believe a kid could possibly make such exacting implements and the instructor assured me I would indeed if I were to graduate.
The challenge could not be dismissed and that was that. Four years later I had made them all and many, many more. I left Lancaster, returned home, bought a house on Robinhood Road outside of Havre de Grace, built my benches, made signs, hung them and then twiddled my thumbs waiting for the hoards to come seeking my new skills. I have been building the business since and, other than my kids and family, find it the single most joyous thing I have ever done. I am still excited each and every morning to get in and pick up where I left off the night before.
Meet Brad Fogarty
My career as a clock-maker started long before I even knew there was such a thing as a clock-maker. My family vacationed in Cape May, New Jersey where I was exposed to antiques from a very young age. My parents were both very big fans of antiques so I was dragged wherever the antiques were.
One summer we were down in Cape May, I was 11 years old and I had seen a clock that I really liked. The clock was $80, which to an 11-year-old was an awful lot of money to spend; especially when that 11-year-old had saved the entire year’s allowance and odd job money to spend at the arcade and on candy. The clock was in a glass case so I had to ask one of the associates there to unlock it for me. They lowered their glasses and looked down at me wondering exactly what my intentions were.
Dutifully, they walked with me to the case and unlocked it for me. I said that I would take it and I brought it up to the front where I paid for it much to their amazement. Now that clock ran well – until it did not – at which point I thought I would look to see if there actually were any people who repair clocks.
There was a local clock-maker up where I lived, and he didn’t even give me the time of day for my poor little “Broken Clock.” So with some bitterness I took my clock and left in search of another clock-maker. I was to find them in John Stephens in Havre de Grace. After much begging for my parents to take me to Havre De Grace, a 40-minute drive, they took me down one Saturday right before my 15th birthday.
At that point John was struck by how truly unusual it was that someone as young as I was had any semblance of Interest whatsoever in anything that was remotely old. He then graciously offered to teach the trade to me which was very thrilling. From that point on I’ve learned and continue to learn all there is to know about the world of clocks and their repair. Clock-making has just the right amount of all the things I enjoy – from art and history to science and mechanics. I’ve had many opportunities to work on some incredibly wonderful clocks and meet so many fantastic people that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Meet Charlie Monnin
Charlie returned to Stephen’s Clocks this year (2016). We couldn’t be more excited. He’s a talented horologist and also an amazing woodworker. Notice the workbench/desk he’s sitting at. Hopefully, he’ll build one for each of us! Charlie will also be specializing in cuckoo clock repair. So bring yours in! He’s waiting for you!
Barbara has stepped into the shoes of our recently retired Pat Cimarelli. We are pleased that it has worked out well.
More to come …
Hopefully, we’ll still have Pat stopping in now and then to share her great smile and to keep us on our toes!
Meet Chandler Blake
More info to come
Meet Vicki Stephens
Vicki is John’s wife and works at the clock shop keeping the guys organized. A retired administrator and teacher from Harford County Public Schools, she now has a second career helping her husband “stay in beat.” This task has been made a little easier with the addition of Barbara!