Captain Carl Fismer gives the original ships clock back to the Ida May!
Hello Bob and Steve,
First let me say that when I was born my Father had a Movie theater. I grew up loving movies. I loved Stan and Ollie all my life. I have turned my Grandson on to them. Barbara the lady I bought these things from told me she was a Nurse's Aide, and a housekeeper to Stan Laurel. She said that she and Mrs Laurel were friendly, and during the time of house cleaning she asked if she could take the items that were being discarded. The first item was a urinal. The old metal kind with enamel paint. After that the records, and the bible.
Over the next several days (I assume) she gave me the other things many of which are just common
household items with no name or initials. She kept all these in a steamer trunk with Stans name on it. I talked with her quite a while. I used to travel there twice a year on business, and the yard sales are the best in the country. I had the idea I was saving these pieces. I realized the importance of these items, and bought them all from her except the steamer trunk. By the time I had bought all the other items her husband knew I was a big fan of the boys, and raised the trunk price to 2000 dollars. More than I could afford. I have however kept all the items together over the years knowing the importance of these items.
Soon after this yard sale I saw Lois, and Chuck McCann on one of the morning shows on television. I wrote to them telling them about these items. Never got an answer. I wrote to Mr. McCann twice more thru his web site, and agency. I also tried Dick Van Dyke, and Jerry Lewis. On the Queen Mary I embossed at least 100 programs. I sold embossed and signature stamped papers on ebay as well as many tents around the world bought these.
I have had many chances to sell pieces from this collection like the Key to Atlantic City and the clock. I was offered a significant amount of money for these items. Anyway your museum idea is a good one, and the clock should be there. I would like to donate this clock as it belongs back on this historic boat. Also, I would like to provide all the personal items back to the Laurel family and to Stan Laurel's daughter, Lois. I held onto these items and protected them for all these years and I am happy now to return them to the family. I always new in my heart these items did not rightfully belong to me.
Over the past year we searched for Stan Laurel's ships clock. It had been since 1938 that it chimed aboard the Ruth L. (Ida May) so we figured we would never find it, but we tried regardless. Our optimism was fueled by viewing the only photo of the clock that we possessed found in a book about Laurel and Hardy and in talking with Lois, Stan's daughter and only child.
Realistically, it had been 70 years since the clock chimed on the yacht; so what were the chances that it would survive and even if we found the clock what individual would part with Stan Laurel's prized possession. Of course, Stan is part of the most famous comedy duo of all time, Laurel and Hardy. Maybe if we found it we could purchase it. But for an unrealistic cost. We got a lead that the clock had been for sale on ebay. We contacted ebay and found no help. Nothing listed. We searched every week on ebay for months in case the far chance that the clock would go back for auction. No luck again. We then received a lead that an antique dealer in Florida owned the clock and may be trying to sell it. We contacted, called, emailed, wrote to a multitude of individuals with no luck and more frustration.
Then on September 3, 2006, we received an email from, Gary Cohen, a member of the Laurel and Hardy fan club, the "Sons of the Desert." A surprisingly large and well organized fan club with chapters ("tents") all across the world. In the email he stated, "I have an old contact that may know who has the clock, but this is unlikely since it has been many years." One email and phone call later and we found the clock!! Unbelievable! Not an antique dealer in Florida but an esteemed treasure hunter in Florida and a fan of Laurel and Hardy! The rest is history.
Below is a letter we received from Captain Fismer regarding the ship's clock. He obtained multiple items from Stan Laurel's personal collection in the 1980's, including the ship's clock at a yard sale!? He understood the significance of the items and has guarded them closely since. He has graciously returned these items back to the Laurel family and the clock to the Ida May. We thank the Captain for his generosity. Read the amazing letter below.
Captain Carl Fismer, President and Founder The Spanish Main Treasure Company.
A 30 year veteran of treasure search and salvage, Captain Carl is one of the most respected and knowledgeable professionals in the world. During his career he has worked over 300 shipwrecks in the United States, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Indian Ocean and Central and South America. He has recovered millions of dollars in Spanish gold, silver, jewels and other artifacts.
"Fizz", as Captain Carl is known to friends, directed part of the salvage of the Santa Margarita, sister ship to the Nuestra Senora de Atocha which was discovered by Mel Fisher. Then in 1986 he led an expedition to the Silver Shoals in the Dominican Republic, and there located the famed galleon, Concepcion which sank during a hurricane in 1641. This galleon, one of the richest ever discovered, had eluded treasure hunters for over 300 years.
Through his relationship with Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Fizz and his company, The Spanish Main Treasure Company have sole custody of the Taj Mahal Sunken Treasure, discovered by a team of divers led by Sir Arthur while diving off the coast of Sri Lanka. This treasure is available for purchase, lease or short term displays.
In addition to this and actual salvage operations, Captain Carl has appeared in many television and video documentaries, founded and acted as curator for maritime museums, produced treasure exhibitions for everything from theme parks to childrens' hospitals, and is considered an expert in underwater metal-detecting, search and recovery techniques. If this were not enough, he is continuously searching the world's oceans for future salvage sites. There's no doubt why he is known as "Everyone's Favorite Pirate".
Learn more about Captain Carl Fismer
You can learn more by about Captain Carl Fismer by viewing his website at
After nearly 70 years the ship's clock is finally home!
Stan at his Santa Monica , California, apartment in 1960. Note the Ship's Clock on the far left hand side of his desk. A constant visual and auditory reminder of his most enjoyable days fishing on his yacht the Ruth L. Imagine how many times he would have looked at his trusty clock during the years, months, days, and minutes that passed. Imagine the stories he would tell when Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton, and Dick Van Dyke would stop by to say hello to there comedic brother. These visits were common. The clock was many times a centerpiece for conversation.
If Stan looked to the right of his desk (note the light is shining to the right of this picture) he would see the majestic Pacific Ocean through the window as a cool salty breeze flowed through. The clock would resonate a beautiful chime and Stan could envision the days on his yacht fighting a 258 lbs. marlin. Those were his best days with complete privacy in the middle of the ocean. Privacy that any hollywood star could appreciate.
Note the clock sitting above on Stan's desk. Close up view of the actual clock.
We cannot thank the Captain enough for this absolute pure act of kindness. In life everyone wishes to have an experience like this one. Unfortunately it comes rarely. We send our warmest thanks to the Captain.
Stay posted for the rest of the story when Stan Laurel's personal items are returned back to the Laurel family.
A passage from an article from Richard W. Bann
Regardless of false reports to the contrary, Stan Laurel was financially secure. Every day he relished his view overlooking the blue-gray Pacific Ocean that meant so much to him. A ship's bell clock rescued from his beautiful fishing boat sat on his desk and would chime every quarter hour. He preferred to live in a small but very nice and new apartment hotel, so that his wife, Ida, would not have a lot of work to do. He had savings, investments, rental income, an annuity, a pension. He was comfortable. He enjoyed television, his hobbies, his fans, and of course his family. They loved him. Everyone loved him. He was also revered, and constantly, as a unique genius of comedy creation and performance by all the greats and near-greats of his chosen field.