This photo of Centennial Park has been altered to depict what a town clock might look like at the location. Porterville High School of Class of 1975 is spearheading a move to place a clock there in honor of band director Frank ‘Buck’ Shaffer. (Contributed Photo)
PHS students push Shaffer’s vision for town clock
Committee: Time Marches On’s goal is to raise $22,000.
FOR THE PORTERVILLE RECORDERWhen Centennial Park was being planned, the late Frank “Buck” Shaffer, Porterville’s musical icon and Porterville High School’s former band director, went to City Hall to offer music ideas and other suggestions for the new park.
“Buck had a vision for a clock — a town clock,” said Felipe Martinez, mayor pro tem. “He had already done some research of different styles and different clocks and brought in pictures of what he had in mind. This was a month or so before his stroke. His vision did not come to fruition.”
Now the Porterville High School Class of 1975 would like to see Buck’s dream come true. They are spearheading the “Time Marches On” committee to raise an approximate $22,000 to purchase and install a four-dial Howard- or Seth Thomas-type street clock to place in Centennial Park at the corner of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue.
The clocks and their bases can have heights up to 20 feet, and can weigh up to 400 pounds. Though an actual clock has not been selected for Centennial Park, the committee does know that it must have four faces — one in each direction. The words “Time Marches On” will also be inscribed on the clock. The clock will stand inside a planter and be surrounded by bench seats.
All work provided for the clock, and surrounding setting — from the electrical to the masonry — will be donated. And the committee is hoping that local high schools’ horticulture departments will donate and plant flowers and plants.
“We want this to be a true community effort,” said Robert Roman, head of the committee and a drummer in the Panther Band under Shaffer from 1972 to 1975. “I don’t want it to be just labor. I want the community to come out and have fun doing it. But we want to start raising the money and get it going.”
Before they can order the clock, an approximately 40-percent down payment is needed. Once ordered, it will take 15 to 20 weeks for delivery.
“We want to place either a bronzed sculpture — a band director with his wand — or music notes on top of the clock,” Roman said. “There is not enough that Porterville can do to repay this gentleman.”
When he first heard about Shaffer and the town clock suggestion, Roman discussed the matter with friends — other former band members who graduated in 1975 — and they all decided to do something about it. They changed the name of the committee from “Class of 75” to “Time Marches On” to be more inclusive of all years and of the community in general.
“We are asking all former band members to help. Imagine if every band member who ever marched under or knew of Buck Shaffer, pitched in five bucks — that would cover it,” Roman said. “What better way to honor him than by carrying on with the dream that he started?”
Martinez, also a PHS Class of 1975 graduate, echoed the sentiment.
“There are usually about 400 kids each and every year in the band — and Buck came to Porterville in 1953 — that is a lot of kids,” Martinez said. “There are two things that Porterville is known for. One is patriotism and the other is music — and Buck represented both. He was a very patriotic individual and music was his passion.”
Martinez also pointed out that some local families have two or three generations of children who played under, or were influenced by, Shaffer, a 53-year music instructor who was still teaching music until his stroke in October 2006. He died Dec. 1.
Shaffer’s son, Skip Shaffer of New Jersey, said he was unaware of Buck Shaffer’s clock dream but is pleased with the prospect.
“My father was very civic minded. People were always suggesting he run for mayor. The clock gives him a connection to Main Street — the center of the city and the heart of town,” Skip Shaffer said. “It is nice to have him recognized by the city of Porterville.”
To kick off the fundraising, the committee is planning a “Fabulous Music Jam” for Oct. 27 at Centennial Park.
“Lots of music by lots of groups — many of them band alumni. Nostalgia, Latin Friends, and the Crash Street Kids from the ’70s will reunite and play. We’re also trying to get [band] San Andreas Fault to play,” Roman said. “But it’s not limited to band alumni. We have a wide variety of music planned. We will have Mariachi music there. All of the musicians are donating their time.”
A request to close Main Street and Cleveland Avenue has been submitted to the city and Roman said they plan on having lots of vendors, food, arts and crafts at the musical celebration.