A majestic old clock that stands near the U.S. Senate chamber is ticking again after the man in charge of winding it returned from the federal government furlough Thursday.
The "Ohio" clock ran down and stopped with the hands at about 12:15, eight days into the government shutdown, when its mainspring reached the end of its capacity.
Staffer Rich Doerner, dressed in a light blue laboratory smock and wearing a historian's protective gloves, arrived with a small step ladder, climbed within reach of the antique dial, opened the old glass face, inserted the crank and swiftly wound the clock back up.
He then climbed down, opened an ornate wooden door on the body of the clock, nudged the pendulum, and got the mechanical timekeeper started again.
What may have seemed routine to Doerner, who acknowledged he had been winding the clock every Monday, brought another symbol of what stopped when parts of the federal government quit running.
The "Ohio" clock was purchased in 1815 by the U.S. Senate and has kept time for most of its nearly 200 years. The Senate's website does not explain any linkage between the state of Ohio and the clock, which was actually made in Philadelphia.
But congressional reporters and members of the Senate refer to the "Ohio" clock as a meeting place for news conferences and statements delivered by lawmakers about legislative developments. This time, it was the "Ohio" clock itself that drew about two dozen reporters and cameramen to the location.
No Senators were present.