top of page

Open For Business!

September 2000

Greetings! I trust all have had a productive summer. I come with a story to tell you.

I run a small business in northwest Iowa, selling jewelry and repairing clocks and watches. When I moved here I did so because I liked the location and size of my new hometown, and I found a building already used for my occupation for an pittiance, even having a large safe and wood display cases already in it. It was empty on the market for a time and the chamber of commerce talked to the seller to get the price adjusted. All I had to do was clean it up and replace a cracked window, and I painted the basement white and put extra lights and shelves in so I can refinish furniture and store things down there.

It is a narrow, deep building of the type commonly refered to as a "Boxcar". It is an older building, being built in 1900, but in a beautiful state of preservation and having two apartments above it, so I wouldn't have to bother buying or renting a place, and could rent out one besides and offset the bills some. The previous occupant had installed a street clock (a large clock on the sidewalk in front that can be seen down the block) but took the inside clock that ran it, but I had an antique regulator clock that just looked at home in the place between the two front windows and it was of little matter to make new connecting rods to go under the sidewalk and turn the hands on the street clock.

I opened, did quite well if I may say so, and hired another clockmaker and a clerk and book keeper.

With employees come added duties, and I noticed that the safe somehow got forgotten in the closing up routine and was closed but not locked. I had a meeting with the employees and stressed the importance of locking the safe every night and they all said "yes, sir, right sir, just the thing sir", etc. It happened a couple more times and I got into the habit of giving the dial a twist on the way out, scrambling the combination and locking the doors. I had a clerk that seemed to forget all the time and she always said she HAD locked it, so I called a locksmith to see if it possibly could be on the brakes. He came, looked, and it was given a clean bill and a new combination. She left shortly afterwards and was replaced. Still, some nights the safe seemed to go unlocked all night, even after I was certain I had twisted the dial to clear it. Never did anything dissapear, and never was the door itself open (the doors are massive, they have a large handle that throws the bolts to lock or open it, and they are so stiff I frequently have to throw the bolts because the ladies can't).

The 15th of last month (July) my bookkeeper called me at home to tell me she would not be returning. I asked if I couldn't change her mind, as good help is hard to find. She said the pay was good, she liked me and the other people there, but she hated being in the office because she always felt she was being spied on. (The office has a glass wall that seperates it from the sales floor) I said nobody would do such a thing but she was adamant. Then she mentioned that on days I didn't work when she would open for the day, the safe would be unlocked, even though nothing was ever gone. I told her that I trusted her like family but she said it wasn't that, there were other things.

One was that she didn't like going near the big regulator clock between the front windows, instead going all around the display cases back by the office door to get to the other side. She couldn't or wouldn't say why. (Nobody touches that clock but me, the clerks aren't tall enough to reach the keyways to wind it and the other clockmaker simply considers it "my job") Finally she admitted that she would hear someone walking upstairs when I was gone (I live over the store), and she heard the boiler room door open or shut in the basement (it is a heavy steel clad door on a rolling track, and can be heard opening from a distance). I was concerned that someone may be hiding in the basement, maybe coming up after I was closed at night, and called the police to help check the whole building, and nothing was amiss. I convinced Therese to stay another month when I called Hawkeye (an alarm company) and had camaras put in (I told them it was to get a discount on insurance) and put a perimeter alarm on the safe, so the slightest touch after closing time would bring the police running. Still from time to time it would be unlocked, but never open. When I found it that way I kept quiet and told the other clockmaker (a friend from watchmakers' school) to do likewise.

Therese came in on the 28th and gave 2 weeks notice. She said what did it was coming in the morning of the 28th and seeing the door to the regulator open a few inches. I said maybe the latch didn't take but she said that was no excuse, because the door is warped slightly and has to be pulled hard to open. I must admit she has me there. I revued the camara tape, thinking I would fire the person that messed with my clock, and at three a.m. the door was shut. At 3:02 it was open a few inches. I had neglected to wind it and it was on the verge of winding down at 3:02, the weights were almost wound to the stops. There is no way to automatically wind the clock, and the crank was up top of the case, just as always. I am at a loss to explain it. I was directed to a lady in Estherville who supposedly can detect paranormal activity, but as yet she hasn't called me back to make an appointment as I only called her Friday last. Somebody said it is a "Poltergist" and gave me this web site to look and see what a "poltergist" is. Hope somebody out there can tell me more about what I have on my hands here.

00:00 / 01:04
bottom of page