Monday, May 27, 2019

When the last bell rings

Painter Creek Ohio, December 24, 1891 Dear Mettie, (my grandma Johnson) your album is a garden spot for all your friends to sow. I'll plant a small "Forget me not" and see if it will grow. Compliments and best wishes, Lucinda Swinger.

Old tattered pages once held and read over and over by a teenager. Cherished friends in a time of one room schools and horses to ride. A time when the school bell told children to get a move on it.

The old school bell. What a history. In the Native American areas where they lived in tepees and children on prairies, a bell was rung to awaken them. The next bell was to call them to school. The teacher stood on the stoop and watched her many ages of children come from all directions. A bell ringing out hope.

There are many things we take for granted in our growing up. Of course, when my grandmother and even my parents were young, life was hard and simple. That bell at the school or the one in the church called out for many reasons. A death, a birth, bad weather, a friend in need. The bell called to worship, to school and to alarm.

I was given an old, heavy, school bell years ago. Somewhere along the way, I passed it on. I wonder about that old bell. I know it came from the Chicago area. It would be too loud to ring here in suburbia; however, I'd give anything to ring it again. In my mind I see a flurry of children bringing in kindling and pulling buckets of water from the well. Children wearing high top shoes, many too small, and most handed down. Girls with braids and boys in hats. The old bell rang, and they came.

School is almost over. Shoes will be tossed aside and crops will tended. Other children will go to camps and go traveling. They are all the same. They race through their childhoods without a care. We see the time race with the ringing of that bell. Another year gone never to return.

When did the last bell ring? What was the last school to remove the bell, the building. Did the children rush to the new school forgetting about that old bell? New replaced old. Many things were lost in this surge forward to modernization and change.

I love these old albums from my mother and grandmother. I hear the ringing of that school bell and know they giggled and laughed writing in classmates' books. The pages were new. Now they are fragile. The bell rang and time passed.

March 7, 1928 F.H.S.
Dear Ruth, When you get old, don't marry a fool. Marry somebody from Franklin School. Freeda Helman

When the last bell rings.

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