Officer searches for accidentally sold clock
Stars and Stripes June 26, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — For 18 years, Rear Adm. Gary R. Jones dutifully wound a cherrywood clock on his mantle with a key, giving the ticking piece a gentle twist of energy every four days.
It was a timepiece of memories, a symbol of love and craft.
The clock, Jones said, was handcrafted by his father, Talmadge Craig Jones, who died of cancer three years ago.
The master woodworker, affectionately known as “Pop,” spent hours holed up in a garage making beds and grandfather clocks for his family.
It was during his father’s careful work in the garage that the craftsman and his son bonded, a relationship carved amid wood shavings and polished by sweat.
“He always had a passion to work with his hands,” Jones, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea, said of his father.
Now the clock is gone.
A $2,000 reward — upped from $500 a few days ago — is on the table for information about the clock, mistakenly sold at the AAFES watch repair shop.
The clock was dropped off for repairs at a vendor in The Gallery, a small mini-mall on main post, said Song Chae-sin, service management specialist for AAFES. After being repaired, it was placed on a shelf in the open, Song said.
On May 31, a customer came in the shop and asked the clock’s price, Song said. The person who runs the repair shop was in the restroom at the time, so another employee helped the customer.
“The employee who was at the counter did not know who the admiral was but heard this clock was owned by a very important person,” Song said.
The employee thought the person was asking the cost of the repair and told the person $20. The employee went to the restroom and asked the manager if giving the clock back to the owner was OK; the repair person said of course, Song added.
Twenty dollars later, the clock was gone. Song said a slightly heavy white man about 40 years old, wearing a striped shirt, bought it.
“I think he already decided to keep this,” Song said. “Unfortunately, the employee did not ask for identification of the person who bought the clock and just assumed it was the same person who dropped it off for repair.”
So far, the concessionaire has spent more than $1,000 on advertising in the Morning Calm, the local Yongsan base newspaper, and Stars and Stripes.
Initially, the ad in the Morning Calm offered a clock of much higher value in exchange for the missing one.
Jones, though, said the value to him is symbolic. His father produced furniture only for his family, each one a unique item with its own character and grace.
He was reluctant about even bringing the clock to Korea.
Said Jones’ wife, Tamara: “It’s the only thing you brought that your dad made.”
His father started woodcrafting in 1960, making a record player complete with vacuum tubes. The elder Jones later concentrated solely on woodworking, making elaborate furniture from handpicked cherrywood he drove hundreds of miles to obtain, Jones said.
“Love, from Pop” is inscribed on the bottom of the clock, Jones said.
The rear admiral is at the end of a two-year tour and soon will move to Okinawa. But his thoughts remain on the heirloom.
“It’s special,” Jones said. “He made it for me. It’s more than a clock.”
To report information about the clock, contact Ms. Kim, The Gallery manager, at 723-3020 or e-mail Kimae@aafes.com.