The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Mike Pound

June 22, 2011

Mike Pound: Time goes on ... as does Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — Boy, talk about time flying.

That’s one of the things that probably ran through Bruce Seesengood’s mind when he surveyed the wreckage — on the night of May 22 — of what used to be his Quality Jewelry and Repair shop at 2322 S. Main St.

Bruce got into the jewelry and repair business full time about four or five years ago. In addition to an interest in that sort of thing, he also collects and deals in clocks — particularly, large, antique and valuable grandfather clocks.

The tornado that took out Bruce’s store also took out many of his clocks, including about 20 valuable antique grandfather clocks that were lined along the front wall of his building. Most of those clocks, Bruce said, “just exploded” in the storm.

Not all of the clocks in Bruce’s store were destroyed. Many of them managed to ride out the storm, and a few of them were still running when he found them.

“No matter what happens, I guess, time goes on,” Bruce said.

It’s that time-goes-on deal, I think, that prompted Bruce to call and invite me to his new shop, located in the 800 block of South Main Street, just across from Smith’s Floor Store, to take a look at a few of his clocks.

I got to Bruce’s new store at about 10:30 Wednesday morning. Standing with Bruce in the store was a formidable guy who looked very familiar.

“You look familiar,” I said in that brilliant observational manner that I possess.

“I should. You chased me around the police department looking for news long enough,” the formidable guy said.

The formidable guy was former Joplin police Chief Larry Tennis. I hadn’t talked to Larry since the mid-1980s, when I was trying to be a TV reporter. In retrospect, Larry looked pretty much the same as he did all those years ago. I wonder how he does that.

Bruce, Larry and I had a nice time sitting around chatting. We talked about the storm and the things we have seen and the stories we have been told. We talked about people we know and how they are faring. And we talked about Joplin.

After a time, Bruce showed me one of the grandfather clocks that survived the tornado. The wood around the face of the clock had been chipped, and there were the sort of scratches and marks you would expect to find on a grandfather clock that has been tossed about in an EF-5 tornado. But somehow, the clock was working.

Bruce said that when he found the clock, it was in horrible shape. It was dirty, and so much mud and debris had gotten inside the clock that he couldn’t open the door to wind it.

“It would have never stopped running at all if we could have gotten the door open sooner,” Bruce said.

Eventually, he did get the door open, and he was able to wind the clock and do some minor repairs. The clock now stands tall against one of the walls in Bruce’s new shop. It’s a proud looking clock. It’s got some rough spots. It’s got some scars. It’s been through a lot, but for the most part the clock is an impressive testament to the hard work that created it and further testament to the care and hard work that restored it.

It also underscores what Bruce said earlier: Time goes on.

Joplin is a lot like that clock. Right now Joplin has some rough spots. OK, right now Joplin has some incredibly rough spots. It also has a host of scars, and it’s been through a lot. But Joplin is still working, and with a little help and a lot of hard work, it will once again stand tall.

Yep, time goes on.

And so does Joplin.

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Tornado: Mike Pound