WE HAVE A WINNER! The Chelsea Clock Share Your Story Contest was met with overwhelming response from our enthusiastic base of clock owners. We reviewed hundreds of entries with our staff of judges, and enjoyed reading every word about what makes our clocks special to their owners. Stories were wrought with emotions and passion and really gave us a feel for who our customers are! Thanks to everyone for participating.
Here is the story provided by our winner, Karen Betague. Congratulations Karen! We hope you enjoy your new Dartmouth Clock.
"My Chelsea Clock sits across the room, elegant and accurate, a tangible tie to my family history. Captain Harry gave it to my grandparents as a wedding gift in 1911. His is my grandfather’s brother and we were his only family in America. Captain Harry traveled the world then entertained our family with his lilting Swedish accent, spinning tales of his life on the high seas. Young Harry left Sweden to go to sea when he was fourteen and earned responsibilities as a ship’s master by the time he was in his mid-thirties. The mariner immigrated to America and made Portland, Oregon his homeport for the rest of his fifty-six years at sea. He earned the distinction of being a master mariner with an unlimited license for both sail and steam ships of any size on any ocean. My grandfather, Captain Harry’s brother, also left Sweden for America and found work in a San Francisco based company. Around 1910 he felt sufficiently secure to send to Sweden for his childhood sweetheart. He and Anna were married in October 1911. Captain Harry wished them well and presented his gift. I recently learned that our clock was manufactured in 1904. It had never occurred to me to wonder if it had a history before it joined our family but I find it does. It was made for Shreve & Co. a respected purveyor of fine jewelry and timepieces for San Franciscans since 1852. It was probably shipped from Chelsea, Maryland to San Francisco immediately after skilled workers finished calibrating the timepiece. In 1905 Shreve & Co. was preparing to move into a new eleven-story building at Post and Grant Avenues in the heart of San Francisco’s business district. Their grand opening in March 1906 was followed by tragedy. On April 18th the ground shook; great chasms opened swallowing streetcars. A terrible fire followed, wiping out whatever the quake had spared. The Shreve Building was in the heart of the devastation. Right after the earthquake, quick thinking Shreve employees stowed valuable merchandise in a vault before making their own way to safety just ahead of the engulfing flames. The brass Commander Ship’s Clock that would ultimately become my family’s heirloom awaited rescue inside that vault until the embers cooled. When the fire was finally quenched, the formerly elegant Shreve Building stood as a mere skeleton but the merchandise in its vault escaped harm. Shreve & Co. opened for business at a temporary location across the bay in Oakland for the years it took to rebuild. By 1910 Shreve & Co. had returned to their restored building in San Francisco. Sometime that same year, my great uncle Harry sailed his ship into the Port of San Francisco. While the cargo was being unloaded he strolled through the heart of the city’s gradually recovering business district. When he saw the gleaming brass Chelsea Ship’s Clock in a display window on Post Street, the perfect wedding gift for his brother."