I see no white caps in the birdbaths in the back yard today; I don’t hear my pecan tree and my neighbor’s cottonwood tree whispering sweet nothings to each other over the fence. Up on my roof the turbine vents squeaketh not. The wind is calm.
Such was not the case 101 years ago today.
The September 18, 1915 Star-Telegram reported that a tropical storm that had caused much destruction and loss of life on the Texas coast had moved northward over Fort Worth. The storm here produced heavy rain and high wind. Gusts to forty-four miles per hour were reported on August 17.
On August 17, 1915, the Star-Telegram reported on August 20, one particularly impertinent gust of wind had blown a six-foot-long wooden hand off the courthouse clock. Three days later the hand was found four miles away west of Arlington Heights. Because the newspaper story does not state if the hand that blew away and was found four miles away was the big hand or the little hand, we can’t say if the hand traveled four miles a minute or four miles an hour.
However, the fact that county jail inmates “were unable to tell when mealtime came around” without the missing hand might indicate it was the hour hand. The county jail was on Belknap Street just north of the western half of the courthouse, which means the hand was lost from the north-facing clock face.
As the county’s official timekeeper, the courthouse clock is, of course, a county employee. As such, it makes news when it doesn’t do its job. Sometimes the clock has gone on strike, as it did in December 1895, when the courthouse was new, and again in 1920.
Even the clock of the previous courthouse (built in 1877) now and then took some time off. (Photo from D. H. Swartz’s Photographs of Fort Worth.)
Sometimes the clock has made up for going on strike by striking too often, as it did in 1912.
But only once—on August 17, 1915—did tempus really fugit.