The Sound of Bells
That’s the name of a wonderful book that Eric Sloane wrote in 1966. Later, he bought all of the remaining copies from the publisher so he could re-issue it into a special bicentennial edition. It never happened, and my copy, a gift from the author, is one of those he wished to modify, but didn’t.
Eric loved bells, and noted that under ideal conditions their rings can be heard nine miles distant. He said, “The far-away sound of a bell could be both “forlorn and soul-stirring.” Funny I remembered that.
I acquired this generic cast iron train bell from Eric. He probably apprehended it from some old wrecked steam locomotive somewhere, but who knows? The bell has the loudest clang in our whole area. I know that from how many miles away I get complaints.
The support upon which the bell rests held up the roof in Kiva A at San Lazaro Pueblo. The Dendrochronology Lab at the U of Arizona said the tree was cut in 1475 plus a few years added for residual rottage. That means it was cut with prehistoric stone tools because metal did not come to the pueblo for at least another 65 years.
It was set 24” into the ground, and that’s about as deep as a man’s arm can reach and hand-dig the dirt out. At my home I cut the post to fit, tarred the bottom 24” and placed it back in the ground. Then I mounted the bell on top. My wife rings it to summon me when I’m working way out in the trees. One ring means come to supper, two means carry the trash out, and three means “Come at once, I need you.” I always do what she rings.
Because it personally cannot relate its history, my bell tower invites little more than a curious glance. I wonder if the owners of my home a hundred years from now will appreciate the dichotomy that stands just off the east end of my portal. f