James Taglia's stands next to one of his three grandfather clocks on Monday, Nov. 28, at his home in Oak Park. | Alex Rogals

One of the unexpected benefits of the Oak Park Village Board returning to in-person meetings is the lack of clocks — specifically Trustee Jim Taglia’s clocks. When the board was meeting virtually, it seemed like Taglia’s turn to speak always coincided with the turn of the hour, resulting in a discordant cacophony of noise as his many timepieces chimed, dinged and rang all at once.

“I have probably 30 clocks,” Taglia acknowledged.

A collector of clocks, he inherited his passion for timekeeping instruments from his father. Taglia has a few clocks, including one of the grandfather variety, that his father passed down to him. He also has a clock from his great-grandmother that is well over a century old and still operational.

Back in the day when they made those clocks, they only had one hand on them because people didn’t care about the precision of the second hand,

Trustee Jim Taglia

Most of the clocks are wind-up, which he maintains through regular oiling and, of course, winding. Some clocks in his collection use an electric oscillator fueled by quartz crystals. His Atmos clock is powered by changes in air pressure. His Geochron displays the different phases of the sun, showing where it’s light and dark across the world. He also has several mantel clocks.

Despite the abundance of clocks offering endless opportunities to check time, Taglia is not a particularly punctual person. He sets his clocks ahead a few minutes to help combat his penchant for tardiness.

“I’m usually the latest one to arrive,” he admitted. “I’ll probably be late to my own funeral.”

Pretty much all of Taglia’s clocks are handmade and the sheer size of some can leave a person awestruck. He has 7-foot-tall grandfather clocks, with elaborate internal mechanisms that are hard to keep running properly — and even harder to repair.

“A clock is a difficult thing to get repaired nowadays because there aren’t many well-versed enough to be able to repair one,” he said. “It’s kind of a dying art.”

The complicated skeleton of diminutive wheels and springs hidden behind a beautifully crafted exterior is what draws Taglia to clocks. Lately, he’s been collecting English-made lantern clocks. And despite their name, they aren’t carried like lanterns or even pocket watches. The weight-driven brass clocks weigh 15 to 20 pounds each.

Lantern clocks are some of the earliest mechanized clocks, dating back to the 1600s. A member of the National Association of Clock & Watch Collectors, Taglia owns an 18th-century lantern clock.

“Back in the day when they made those clocks, they only had one hand on them because people didn’t care about the precision of the second hand,” Taglia explained.

You could say he is cuckoo for clocks, but one type, surprisingly, he does not have is the cuckoo clock.

He did have one in the past, however.

Taglia failed, however, to pass on his love of clocks to his children, as his father did to him. His five kids want nothing to do with them, according to Taglia — the clocks often interfered their children’s studies.

“Four of our five play piano and took lessons. Practicing with the clocks going off every 15 minutes was definitely a challenge for them,” said Taglia’s wife, Anneke, who made her husband stop the clocks before their daughter’s cello recitals, which were held at home, so they wouldn’t interrupt her playing or the audience’s enjoyment.

Anneke had a nice grandfather clock growing up, but she does not share in her husband’s enthusiasm for those or other types of clocks. There are just too many, she said, and they constantly go off.

“I did put my foot down when he had this really old clock that he wanted to put in our bedroom,” she recalled. “I told him, ‘No, we’re not going to have a grandfather clock in our bedroom chiming every hour.’”

As in all marriages, compromises must be made. The clock sits in the Taglias’ bedroom, but it doesn’t function, resulting in uninterrupted rest for the light-sleeping Anneke.

As a member of the village board, Taglia was one of the most eager to return to in-person meetings at village hall. There are certainly fewer clanging interruptions now. Not that the meetings are any shorter; they still regularly exceed three hours. Maybe one or two clocks in the council chamber might not be a bad idea.

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