The sound of clocks may drive others “cuckoo,” but this unique team thrives on all of the ticks, tocks, bells, chimes, and whistles. Take a few minutes to learn more about the time-keeping team that keeps our business moving and grooving.
John A. Stephens Jr.
“I am one of those lucky individuals who were able to stumble upon their life’s work at an early age. There are still times when I wonder why I grew to be so smitten with this trade, but I really am, and there is never a time when I wish I had chosen to do anything else. I have always loved working with my hands; turning junk in treasure; transforming bikes to boats.
I figured out that clock-making was for me as I spent my teenage years looking over my dad’s shoulder and lending a hand when I could. My father used clock-making as an outlet for his frustration as my mother battled breast cancer. As I quickly grew to adopt skills and interest in the trade, he offered to send to me to Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At 18 years of age, that was the last trip we took as a family with my mother around. I miss her dearly, but I am glad she was there to see the start of what I would become.
At Bowman’s I had a moment – an experience – that set it all into motion. At the time, I was inspired more by the lessons on the tools I would make, more than the clocks themselves. Displayed clearly in a case above the instructor’s bench tiny taps, dies, pivot polishes, and other tools intended to work on things so small you had a hard time seeing them. I did not believe that an inexperienced kid like myself could possibly make such exacting implements, but the instructor assured me that these lessons would be mine if I made it to graduation.
I could not dismiss his challenge, and thus the rest is history. Four years later I had made replicas of those exact tools and many, many more. I left Lancaster with a mission to return home and begin my business. I 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 customers my new skills. I have been building the business ever since then. I can say with confidence that aside from my kids and family, I find this to be the single most joyous thing I have ever done. I am still excited each and every morning to come to work and pick up where I left off the night before.”
” I was exposed to antiques at a young age when my family would vacation in Cape May, New Jersey. One summer in Cape May, I was 11 years old, and I had seen a clock that really caught my liking. At that age, the $80 price tag seemed like a lot to spend, but I had saved a year’s worth of allowance (albeit to originally spend on candy and arcade games), and the clock was worth it.
That clock ran very well…until it did not. At that point, I thought it best to see if there were any people who could repair clocks. There was a local clock-maker near my home in Delaware, but he didn’t even give me the time of day for my poor little ‘broken clock.’ With a bit of bitterness, I took my clock, and left in search of another clock-maker. This search landed me in Havre de Grace, seeking the expertise of a man named John Stephens. After much persuasion, my family journey the 40-minute drive west a few days before my 15th birthday.
It was on that day that my life’s path changed. John was struck by how unusual it was for someone my age to take an interest in these intricate antiques. He graciously offered to teach me the trade, and I excitedly accepted. From that point, I have continued to learn everything I can 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. Ten years later, I have thrived in my many opportunities to work on a variety of incredible and unique clocks. I enjoy every chance to meet our fantastic customers, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Charlie has been a dedicated member of the team for nearly 20 year. He is a talented horologist, a meticulous woodworker, and takes miraculous care of cuckoo clocks in particular. When customers stop in, they may not even know he is there! His focus keeps him quiet throughout most of the day, but he is always available to answer questions thoroughly when customers have questions.
“As my grandparents would tell you themselves, I have always been an old soul. I remember being as young as 7 and going antique shopping, spending time with my grandfather (John Stephens) in the clock shop, and marveling at old treasures.
As the youngest in a large family, I am the only one who truly adopted a love and passion for clocks. I have ten clocks of my own at home (and counting!). It is such a joy to work the front desk at my family’s shop. I could not have dreamed of a better place for me to be.”
Chandler is John Stephen’s granddaughter who took the plunge to help take care of the family business while she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Towson University. She not only manages the front desk full-time, but also coordinates all advertising for the business including website management, Facebook, and other media outlets.
Vicki is John Stephen’s wife. As a retired administrator and teacher for Harford County Public Schools, she has taken a second career to help her husband “stay in beat.” Customers may see her moving in and out of the shop as she takes care of some of the higher-level administrative tasks.