Welcome. Edgartown News was born from the simple fact that I have ink and Dektol in my veins and I need to write and photograph more than I need air or food, and from my love for this little town where I grew up and raised my family, the town I have left a few times but can't quite shake for good. Here you will find wanderings and musings, photographs and commentary; the people, places, and happenings - past and present - of a small island town: my home town.

Friday, November 13, 2015

View from (Almost) the Top

As I've been documenting the festivities surrounding the Edgartown town clock tower's renovations these past two weeks, including the view from my upstairs windows one block away, I had a notion that it might be fun to go up there and grab a few photos. A few days ago the opportunity to speak with John Anderson, the foreman on the job, presented itself, so I asked if I could go up there with him sometime. He thought about it, carefully considering the ramifications and possible liabilities, and told me to come back at 7am Friday morning.

So, this morning - a clear and very windy autumn day following a few days of rain and drizzle - I got up at the crack of dawn, threw on my clothes, grabbed the camera and headed down Main Street. Was I really going to do this?


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Stairway to the top. John told me, "Start up slowly while I grab a couple of things and I'll be right behind you." No problem, I thought. I fairly bounded up the first two levels (sporting the mandatory hard hat, of course), full of confidence (or at least faking it, brilliantly) but when I reached the second platform, the spirit was willing but my mind would not allow me to take another step (what had I been thinking, wanting to do this? I haven't been able to set foot on a Ferris wheel for decades). "That's okay," John told me, "we'll take the inside stairs."

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          The final hatchway at the top of a series of stairs that leads into the bell tower.
I had no problem climbing the stairs inside the church - I'd been up here before - once when we were kids, Bob Bassett (the keeper of the clock - now his son Tom has the job) brought us up here, and a few years ago when the bell was reinstalled after being refurbished, I made the climb to take a few photos of the bell.

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Our beautiful town clock bell. The pulley wheel here is the work of John Anderson.

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John makes a few adjustments on the ropes. 
Here we get a peak through an opening in the shroud at the bell tower of St. Elizabeth's, with the steeple of the Federated Church in the distance. The shroud is here to both protect the public from falling debris, as well as to provide a visual shield for the workers, taking their minds off the fact that they are so high off the ground.

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The rising sun and Edgartown Harbor in the distance.

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A glimpse back into terra firma and safety. If you can call being several tens of feet off the ground terra firma.

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Here we are just beneath the clock's southern face.

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Why does this man not look scared? John told me that the reason he's so comfortable working at these heights is because he used to paint three-decker houses in Worcester, and in his younger years, he once spent time sailing on a barkantine that had a 120' mast, and he did manage to get at least 100' up the thing on more than one occasion. This sailing vessel, that eventually made its way to the Vineyard, is the reason John now lives on the island - "I'm literally a wash-ashore," he says.

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A shiny new face.

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Looking west. Had it not been for the shroud (and my nerves) we'd be able to see my house, and the window through which I view the clock every day. It was very windy up there. John said it would have been a very different experience without the wind. The whole time, he was assessing whether he and his men would work aloft on this day.

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Here we have St. Elizabeth's in the foreground, town hall to the left, the steeple of the Federated Church in the distance, and a nice shot of the harbor.

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Here, I'm a little braver, leaning out from the tower to get a better shot of Main Street (just kidding - it was only my camera that I stuck out past the shroud). But to tell you the truth, this photo actually makes me a little sick.

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Inside again, headed back down. These are the stairs in the belfry. I assume they go up to the roof. No, I did not go up there. Next time.

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The catwalk above the church's sanctuary.

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The catwalk with the altar of the church below.

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Old infrastructure.

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The weather-beaten north-facing clock face, installed, John thinks, in 1947. Beneath this face was found what was probably the original face, dating back to the mid-1800s. 

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Church Street.

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"X" marks the level where we were standing (but around the corner, facing Main Street; not quite the top, but high enough for me).

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Climbing to the tower was a real treat - thank you! I can't wait to see the finished product.

1 comment:

  1. Sara, you are not only amazing...but very brave also...Great pictures...and that is as close as I ever want to get to that view !

    ReplyDelete