Making a permanent impression since 1994
October 24, 2005
He conceived a birth control clock
By Zach Brokenrope
couples who want a child – or who want to avoid pregnancy – knowing when the
woman is fertile is critical.
a designer at The Sessions Clock
“I’d never heard of
anything like it before,” said Jones.
Sessions created “The
Lady,” billed as the world’s first “family planning” clock, for the sole
purpose of counting a woman’s menstrual cycle, according to Chris Bailey,
curator at the American Clock and
“In 1965 it was first
announced,” said Bailey.
But the clock didn’t have
much production time, because Sessions closed in 1968.
To use the clock, a woman
would set that clock to her specific period. Then, during the days she was most
fertile, a small dial on the clock would turn red.
Because the rest of the
month posed less of a danger of pregnancy, Bailey joked that the dial ought to
appear green on those days.
thought it was great,” said Jones.
to Jones the women who worked at Sessions thought the idea of the clock was
all thought it would take hold,” Jones said. “I thought it was a good
Sessions, Jones helped design and create “The Lady.”
was a new experience,” Jones said.
said the company’s chief engineer gave him the assignment.
helped design the motor, he said, so the clock could have a Sessions movement.
His work ensured that the colored “flags” inside the clock that appeared in
the indicator window popped up at the right time.
was very easy to do,” Jones said.
electric clock, The Lady Sessions also served as an alarm clock. It was packaged
with a fertility table showing the probable fertile days based on the length of
a menstrual period.
remarkable clock accommodates the cycle variance of the vast majority of
women,” reads the Sessions literature included with the clock. “It indicates
probable safe days and probable days of fertility all through the month … just
as dependably as it tells the time all through each day!”
clock uses “the medically accepted rhythm method,” the information from
While it was certainly an
unusual concept, the clock generated some controversy.
“The Catholic church was
upset about it because they considered it birth control,” said Bailey.
Jones, Sessions was an early stepping stone in a mechanical career after a
two-year stint in the U.S. Navy.
“I was hired by chance,”
he said. “I came in and interviewed, they liked me, and they hired me.”
Waterbury native, Jones had come back to Connecticut after his time in the
military, met his wife and started a family.
The Sessions Clock Co.,
which by that time had already been open for more than a century, was a premier
clock company based in Forestville.
“I was hired to work on
motors and clocks,” he said. “At
first I did a lot of case design though,” he said as he pulled a large pile of
papers out of a box on the table. Each piece of paper had a picture of a clock,
and proudly pointed out the ones he designed.
Jones said he enjoyed
working at Sessions, a place he described as like a family. He said the company
was ahead of its time because women and men worked side by side without
differences in the jobs they did.
the 1960s, Jones quit Sessions for a time and began working for Royal, a
typewriter company, as a draftsman.
said he made the move because he needed “to advance himself.” After leaving
Royal, Jones returned to Sessions and began working on a new program at the
company called PIP.
said PIP was an “audiovisual presentation system” used for education.
enjoyed everything I did,” Jones said of his time at the company. “We [the
employees] all had a good relationship.”
remained at Sessions for a short time again, before moving on to other jobs.
Today, Jones, 71, is retired. He and his wife live in Bristol, where they enjoy watching their grandchildren grow up.
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