A former mayor and the mystery of the disappearing clock

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) In downtown Anchorage, on 3rd Avenue, is a shop barely larger than a broom closet where Russ Reno works the phones looking for deals.

Reno owns Anchorage Downtown TourGroup, a one-man operation that connects tourists to tours. He has found that most visitors are looking for something special. They'll splurge on a float plane trip around a glacier or, when it's cloudy, a van ride out to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Reno takes few breaks from work, except when it's time to wind the old clock in his office. That's when he gets really excited.

One a recent weekday, he opened the gray doors and reached in, creating a small cloud of dust.

"I kind of like it has the original dust in there," Reno said. "I didn't want to clean it too much. Wanted to keep it as authentic as possible."

Inside are two small levers. Reno turns both twice.

"I don't want to do it too much."

Soon there's a rhythmic tic, tic, tic.

The clock was made in Washington State and sent to Anchorage in 1958. It was purchased for the Lake George Ice Classic, an event that lasted only one year although it was intended to endure much like the beloved Nenana Ice Classic. But the Lake George contest came and went, and the clock seemingly disappeared after 1958.

Then, recently, former mayor Tom Fink's children were cleaning out his garage and found the clock tucked away.

"It's been in the rafters of my garage since 1960," Fink said.

Fink says back in the 50's he was a member of a service organization, the Anchorage Jacees, which was affiliated with the The United States Chamber of Commerce. It was because of that group that they bought the clock and started the Lake George Ice Classic. But the ice classic never became popular so, like what often happens to old clocks, it ended up in storage. This one in Fink's garage.

There it sat there for almost 60 years.

Fink says the USCC didn't want the re-discovered clock, and he didn't want it either.

"One of my daughters says she knows someone who's sort of a nut about clocks," Fink said. "And I said, 'Get a hold of him, if he'll pay me something he can take it.'"

That's how it ended up in the hands of Reno, who took it back to his office. When he turned the levers, it began ticking away.

"I reset the trigger and it fired right up after sitting for close to 60 years," Reno wrote on Facebook.

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