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[p. 8]

The public clock was in the base of the spire, whose broad sides presented a great exposure to the winds. The weights that propelled its mechanism were huge wooden boxes filled with ledge stone, the larger some six feet in height. Far up near the apex were the sheaves over which extended the chains to which the weights were attached, and whose pivots sometimes needed lubrication by the care taker. As a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, the fact of that enormous weight hanging over his head as he turned the crank numerous times in the weekly winding was far from assuring. But care takers came and went, and so did the worshipers pass in and out for thirty-two years. Like the cathedral lamps of Pisa they swung to and fro in that Medford tower, but there was no Medford Galileo watching their oscillations, for few ever saw them or sensed the overhanging danger.

But the end came on Saturday evening, August 19, 1905, when Medford had all at once three incendiary fires. That in this church spread so rapidly that practically nothing could be removed from it. The tall tower formed a flue up which the flames sped to attack the lofty spire. No set piece of pyrotechnic display was so destructively gorgeous as that presented to our vision when we arrived and found Salem street roped off for safety. The wall and roof covering entirely burned away, the heavier timbers, even to the apex of the wedge, with vane glittering in the intense heat, stood wreathed in flame and burning to their certain fall. Attacked by the upward draught of flame, the weight boxes burst asunder, and down came a cascade of rocks, and also the clock and bell.

While looking on, and thinking of the two-year struggle we had to pay the heavy mortgage of many years' standing. which was a part of its early adornment, we were aroused by a hand on our shoulder, and the words, ‘Well, Mr.——,you'll never stand up there again.’ It was the painter who assisted in the repair described.

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Medford Galileo (1)
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