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Answer Man: Time running out for historic clock

Dear Answer Man, I was driving along Civic Center Drive yesterday and noticed that one of the historic firehouse clocks has been removed from the tower in front of the Mayo Civic Center. Do you know what the plan is for those clocks?

Three of the clock faces have been removed, actually, and the fourth will be plucked from the tower as soon as the weather warms up a bit, said Donna Drews, the civic center's executive director. Volunteers are carefully putting the clock, which dates from 1899, into storage until the city comes up with a plan for installing it somewhere else.

"There's not a whole lot to say" at this point about plans for relocating the clock, Donna said.

As you'll recall, the clock is from the city's oldest fire hall, which was on South Broadway near the current Fire Station No. 1, and it was put into the current glass and steel tower in front of the civic center a few decades ago. Now, the clock needs to move again because the $85 million expansion of the civic center will begin in about six weeks.

Some fast decisions need to be made regarding the clock tower itself. Some want to preserve it as well, but Donna said that would be a tall order.


Dear Answer Man, is the China Star restaurant on Fourth Street downtown closed? There were no lights on Wednesday night.

They're closed for remodeling, according to a sign on the door at 405 First Ave. SW, though I didn't see a lot of remodeling going on. There are two other China Stars , at 1505 U.S. 14 East and at 2808 41st St. NW. The one on the Beltline also went through a period of being closed last summer.

The bells! The bells!

Not long ago, I penned an excellent item on the bells at Assisi Heights and how they toll daily at 7 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. daily.

A helpful reader named Barry noted the bell-ringing matches up with the Angelus devotional prayers, which have been said in Catholic convents, monasteries, churches and homes for more than a thousand years. I believe the Angelus is traditionally observed at 6 a.m., noon and 6.

Plus, Kathy Gatliff, communications director for the Sisters of St. Francis at Assisi Heights, said the bells also ring when a sister dies or at the time of her funeral.

Dear Answer Man, historicity? In regard to the Winona Marine Art Museum cornerstone ... I don't think so. -- Mary

This attentive reader was questioning my use of the word "historicity" in a column item on Feb. 4. I responded, "OMG, did you look it up? It's an excellent word ... not that I'm forbidden from making words up."


But Mary responded, "You're right that it's in the dictionary. I disagree with your assessment that it's excellent. It's obscure and impossible to pronounce."

I'm chastened. Don't be surprised if I never use the word "historicity" in this column again.

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