November 18, 2013

Charlie Waites: Keeper of the Clock


I first met Charlie Waites in 2010 when I originally photographed the clock. Charlie was the guy who guided me up to the tower, through the belfry and into the clock, just as he did again this past weekend when I took these shots.

The clock was originally installed 1910 by E. Howard Company of Boston. It stopped running in 1955 and remained silent until a restoration project was launched in the early 1990s. Charlie was an integral part of that restoration. A machinist by trade, he made some of the replacement parts needed to get the clock mechanism running again. Since the restoration, Charlie has been the keeper of the clock. He puts in a minimum of 10 hours a week, 220 feet above the ground to ensure the clock keeps running. It is a trip he can make in the dark.

In fact, Charlie has made the trek to the tower pretty much every time of day and through the nastiest of New England weather conditions.

So when Charlie asked me to photograph him in his beloved clock tower, I was jumped at the chance.

Here is Charlie in the doorway of the clock house.

Charlie oiling the clock.

Joining me on the shoot was my friend and fellow Mill shooter, Steven Perlmutter. Steven held my off camera flash when I needed it. When I didn’t he was making magic of his own.

You can read more about Charlie and the clock tower restoration here.

More shots of Charlie to come.

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  1. What an honor that must have been! Good stuff Bob – Charlie looks like he belongs there for sure and that first shot of him is money! Well done!

  2. You really did a wonderful job capturing Charlie and the role he’s played in the city’s history. I’m sure Charlie and his family will be thrilled with the images.

    1. I don’t know if my brothers have seen them but I’m a fan! Loved these photos of my father in the clock! When I would visit from Cincinnati as a child, Dad would go over to the clock (years before restoration) hand me some binoculars and say, ” Take a look at that, Kiddo someday we’re gonna fix that clock !” GOOD MEMORIES!

  3. Charlie is my brother, I remember as kids he was always interested in that clock and even back then he always had said, I’m going to fix that when I get older. I have been up there a few times with him and it was amazing to see. I also remember his restoration of the clock, all his hours spent, the pride he took in doing each task to get this clock running again. This is a big part no only in the Lawrence history, but also for our family as well. Thanks for all the great photos and articles on him and the clock. Many people don’t realize how much work is involved in his work as clock keeper.