U. City High alums rock around ‘The Clock’

Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the St. Louis Jewish Light

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

For much of its eight decades of existence, University City Senior High School had a substantially Jewish student population.  An enduring anecdote is that U. City student Dave Garroway, who would later become the founding host of the NBC “Today Show” announced the day’s events from the microphone in Principal James Baker’s office:  “There will be an assembly at 11 this morning.  The Jewish kids will meet in the auditorium. The non-Jewish kids will meet in the phone booth!”

Even more frequent as a gathering place for U. City High students through the decades was “under The Clock,” a reassuring round clock in the front hallway of the venerated school.  “Advanced Taberna will meet under The Clock,” or “The Chess and Checkers Club will meet at 4 under The Clock. “ Alumni of U. City High through the years have always been reassured that The Clock was still in place  — a silent witness to the passing parade of students.

The U. City High Class of 1962 held its 50th Reunion this past weekend.  Two of the alums — Shelly Solomon and Norm Davis — shared with the Jewish Light an update on the iconic Clock.  

“I was with my cousins over the summer talking about plans for our upcoming 50th year reunion, and the subject of The Clock came up,” said Solomon.  “Like generations of U. City students, we talked about meeting ‘under The Clock’ and tried to estimate how old it was. Ted Humphrey, son-in-law of Judy Tegman Arnowitz, surprised us when he spoke up, saying, ‘I have the clock in my basement in a box.’

They didn’t realize that it had been taken down some 10 years before, in 2002. “Ted said it had broken and had been thrown away.  “He happened to be on the scene and sensed that the clock was very old and he retrieved it from the trash and put it in a box in the basement where it sat for 10 years,” Solomon said.

Humphrey retrieved The Clock from his basement and gave it to Solomon, who took it to the reunion committee. They decided to get it fixed and “return it to the school where it belongs,” she said. The Clock was presented to the Principal’s representative, Ernest Carter, the weekend of the reunion. Class of ’62 alum Norm Davis presented The Clock to Carter at the school, near the original location where it used to be, with an inscription recognizing his class’ 50th Reunion.

And so “The Clock” is right back where it belongs, thanks to the devotion and loyalty of the Class of 1962. Long may it endure as a sign of comfort and continuity to those who choose to meet “under The Clock.”

(Disclosure:  the author of the Cohnipedia column is a graduate of U. City Class of 1957.  As we say, “We’re from U. City.  Couldn’t be prouder!).