Ghosts of Main Street: Sible’s Clocks

October 4, 2018

By Julie Traynor
Correspondent

The Village of Marion is the proud owner of a public time piece. The former bank digital clock displays the time, and temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit. It is a proud tradition for every town to give the time to all and stems from the days when many people did not own a portable time piece.

This handy dandy time display is not the first one in our town. For about ten short years from the 1970’s into the ‘80’s Don Sible gave a good shot at maintaining a four-faced antique public clock in front of his hardware store on Main Street.          

Max Gould and Don Sible pose by a section of clocks and rolls of linoleum floor coverings. The entire wall was covered with clocks.

Max Gould and Don Sible pose by a section of clocks and rolls of linoleum floor coverings. The entire wall was covered with clocks.

It was an adventure to visit Sible’s, whose primary business was hardware; nuts, bolts, pieces and parts for stoves, glass cut for windows and the like, plus fishing supplies and bicycle parts. There was also a smattering of casserole dishes, pots and pans, and Christmas décor. Sible also sold linoleum and hot water heaters. There was a little bit of everything, but serious hardware and bottled gas was his mainstay. Don Sible also knew a thing or two about time pieces.

It seems that Don Sible always had a knack for fixing things, and watches were a specialty. He could have a broken watch ticking in no time. In the early 1950’s he shifted his attentions to old clocks amd amassed quite a collection through the years. If a clock needed a gear, he built one. If its wooden case was beyond repair, he crafted one. Eventually, he began building clocks from the inside out and created cases which were truly things of beauty. Black walnut and golden oak fan molding, checkerboard cases, carved leaves, spiral columns were a specialty. He crafted clock elements and mail ordered movement pieces and some faces. This included cutting glass and etching. He had all the orders he could fill at $100 a clock.
When Sible wasn’t building clocks, he was repairing them for others. Folks were willing to wait months, and sometimes more than a year, for him to make a clock right again. At its height, his personal collection numbered more than 450 ticking, striking, chiming, gonging clocks.

The Sible collection began to take over the hardware. Old clocks sat and hung in many places. Eventually they covered an entire wall in the linoleum and appliance showroom side of the business. It was indeed an amazing sight, and even more so when they were all wound and set to the same time. Don Sible and his clocks became quite an attraction. The crowning glory came along in 1969 when downstate contractor William Cronmiller gave him a large clock, a very large clock indeed.

The Peoples Bank (location unknown) public clock stood in front of Sible›s Hardware for 10 years and left a hole in the landscape for a while. 

The Peoples Bank (location unknown) public clock stood in front of Sible›s Hardware for 10 years and left a hole in the landscape for a while. 

Cronmiller had contracted to tear down the bank on which the public time piece hung. He asked Sible if he wanted it and, without hesitation, he said yes. The weighty time piece came to town on a flat bed semi truck.  Sible shifted into gear and went to considerable trouble and expense to erect this clock. Permission and permits were secured and a substantial I-beam post was set.

This clock, like all the good ones before it, needed to be fixed. Sible met the formidable task, rewired the clock and all four faces of the People’s State Bank clock once again told the correct, synchronized time. It went up on Main Street in 1970 and was the godfather of the Sible clock collection. And, as Don Sible was fond of saying about his clocks, “It works. They all work.” 

The People’s State Bank clock reigned on Main Street for a little more than 10 years and left an indelible impression on many, although sadly not always the correct time. Don Sible sold the entire clock collection and then the hardware in 1981 and retired to his home on west Main Street. There wasn’t a ticking, striking clock in sight.

Don Sible, master clock maker and repair man, seated in his small office amid clocks and parts. He also crafted the desk.

Don Sible, master clock maker and repair man, seated in his small office amid clocks and parts. He also crafted the desk.





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