Friday, February 24, 2006

The Clock, Char-Broiled

This is The Clock restaurant in Hamtramck. I ate there after a few Detroit all-nighters. Nothing special I remember, really, other than this great sign.

When I moved to Grand Rapids, I thought I was seeing things when I came upon the exact same sign, exact same dimensions, for another Clock restaurant on the north side of town. I have no idea how, or even if the two places were connected, but it was the same damn sign.

I only went there once. Unfortunately, it was on business when the place was burning down.

Awfully pretty fire though, right in the middle of a windy June afternoon. All the smoke blew westward over the horizon as if it was on its way somewhere. You could see it for miles, and the local TV stations cut into their programming to show live pictures from tower-mounted cameras across the city. It looked from a distance like a jetliner had gone down. I think a lot of people hurt a little bit to see it happen.

I'll never forget the last time I saw that sign, rocking back and forth in the strong smoky wind, the translucent white missing partly, broken off by jets of water from thick hoses. In desperate defiance, it stood above the firefighters and the spectators who had come to watch the past die.

The Clock is dead, long live The Clock.


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