Saturday, September 09, 2006
9/8/06. 5:00 PM. 6 and B Community Garden. Lower East Side, NY
Some of my favorite encounters:
A man with a large portable radio playing something he obviously enjoyed because he kept it playing while reading the postcards. He then accompanied the radio with some choice bell ringing.
A young girl who said she didn’t want to ring the bell because she had a headache only to show up 20 minutes later completely cured. It was a miracle.
Emilio, the skeptic. He kept trying to figure out what the catch was until he finally decided it was as it appeared and then was so happy. He said he was going to write to his friend in Puerto Rico and say that he met the Bell Lady.
Why? The most common response people seem to have is to ask why. Why are you doing this? Why should I ring it? My response varies. A few times, I have asked the asker -don’t you have a reason to ring the bell? And the answer comes after a short pause…A little smile, a lurch toward the bell and a hard yank on the wheel.
9/7/06. 12:30 PM John Doe Books, Records and Clothes Flea Market. Hudson, NY.
Dan’s daughter had a book of photographs of thousands of antiques arranged by category- several pages of watches or plates or clocks or little statues. She looked at this book for hours and was mostly interested in the appraised value of each item. Her explanation for the incredibly expensive price tags was that these items were encrusted with valuable gems only we just couldn’t see them. These diamonds and gold were hidden under the paint or inside the objects. We played a game where she would open the book at random and we would race each other to find the most expensive item on the page. She won best out of three.
This object actually had the goods.
Norman usually takes the pictures but he was too busy today
9/6/06. 11:30 AM South Kortright School. S. Kortright, NY
Today was the first day at this K- 12 school in rural S. Kortright, NY and all the kids came out at recess to ring the bell. The High School students were way too cool to ring it. They hung around and pretended to ignore it. One boy finally came over to ring it, and it rang once and another boy came over and grabbed the wheel and stopped it.
The next group to come outside was the Junior High school students, and they were more enthusiastic. Both girls and boys were interested and tried it out. At some point, the boys turned it into a contest to see who could spin it end over end the most number of times. I don’t know who won, but the bell certainly lost. It creaked and scraped after that until Norman replaced the bearings and oiled it. When asked what he thought of the bell, one boy said it was the loudest thing he had ever heard.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
9/5/06. Pauline Oliveros’ and Ione’s house. Kingston, NY
Pauline and Ione invited us to a much needed meal and rest at their home. They had planned a BBQ but it was still raining- so we ate indoors. Good food and fun company. Later we rang the bell accompanied by some small sleigh bells in a lovely improvisation instigated byVonn New.
9/5/06. Bard College. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
This was the first day of school. Raining again. I am so surprised at how many people don’t want to ring the bell. “Too busy”, “I really don’t want to”. So here I am like the Carnie Barker, yelling to people passing by. Finally I got a taker, and I am SO happy. She on the other hand is stunned. Earplugs.
9/4 4:05 PM Old Zion Reformed Church. Allentown, PA We arrived at the Church and found a parking space right across the street from the Church- one that we could later pull out of without backing up. Three people came from the Church to welcome us and brought us into the Church for a look at the Liberty Bell Shrine. Very red, while and blue and there in the corner was a very large bell with a crack painted on it. The beauty of the replica is that it isn’t really cracked and when rung, it sounds really good. Compared to my little bell, it’s very mellow and doesn’t cause pain when rung. We got a tour of the sanctuary above the shrine as well and invited to ring the Church bell.
The Church’s bell is, of course, in the belfry or somewhere really high so the way to ring it is to pull on a rope hanging down from the ceiling. When I first pulled on the rope, there was some slack in it and I was nervous because of a warning that if the rope is slack when you pull on it that you’d better get out of the way. They said that was a joke and to go ahead and pull hard- so I did. If you watch the video you can what happens. What you can’t hear is that finally after all that was over, you could hear a tiny, muted little bong.
It was all very exciting. They gave us T-shirts and postcards and were so nice. Anyone passing anywhere near Allentown, PA should go to this Church. The sanctuary is beautiful. There is an organ there that looks like it would rattle the walls and shake the windows. The pastor and the guys who work at the shrine couldn’t be nicer or more friendly. And you can actually ring this huge (over one ton) bell that sounds like the Liberty Bell could have sounded.
9/4 Noon. Ben Tuck Stables.
This morning we were on a horse farm in Lebanon, PA. It was the Ben Tuck Stables, It’s what’s left of Norman’s father’s and mother’s farm. Everybody there wanted me to unhitch the bell from the car and put it in front of the flag so they could take pictures- so I did. There were horses in the background. The reporter from the Lebanon Daily News came with her 7-year-old nephew- I gave him some earplugs and he rang the hell out of the bell.
At the moment Norman is driving and we are heading to Allentown, PA where the colonists (insurgent, terrorists of their day) hid the Liberty Bell from the British. There is a shrine there with a replica of liberty bell that you can ring. It’s in the Old Zion Reformed Church. The plan is to get there just as the place closes so people can ring my bell, too. A few miles ago, we bumped across some railroad tracks, and I looked out the rear view mirror and saw the bell and trailer in the air. They bounced down on one side and then tipped to the other side before stabilizing. Pret-ty scary. So the bell had shifted too much to one side and was a scrape away from falling off the stand completely. We bungied the stand together so it wouldn’t pull apart and hope for the best for now.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
12:30 PM Public Square. Cleveland, OH
Rainy. It’s surprising the number of people who walk by with barely a glance. Even when invited, most people say no. I am really surprised. The few people who did stop and ring the bell were enthusiastic about it. I was parked next to a hot dog vendor who was in the street immediately in front of a coffee shop. When I first arrived, a woman was selling the hot dogs. She wanted to know why I was there. When I told her I was going to donate the bell to the Exploratorium at the end of the trip, she told me I should give it to her. She was going to start a small religion in Greece called Anna something. It would be named after her mother who was dead. She was very serious and insisted that I should give her the bell. It was a sign, she said, that I was there with the bell. She said that as long as I was giving it away, I should give it to her and she even offered to name the bell after me once it was in the church in Greece. I told her that it was promised to the museum and that I couldn’t break my promise. She soon left and an older man came to relieve her. He didn’t want to ring the bell either. However, eventually the man who ran the coffee shop came out after observing for a long time. He had it spinning end over end. It was incredibly loud! He rang it for a long time. I love the physicality of the sound of the bell and the sound itself is very beautiful, but it’s SO loud. It’s earplugs for me from now on.
I chose the square because of its history with bell ringing. Apparently there were special little bells made and sold for Armistice celebrations and people came and rang them in the Public Square. Today there was a small group assembled there, registering voters for the upcoming election.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Day 2 9/2/06
10AM Cranbrook parking lot , Bloomfield Hills, MI. Norman and I met Amy Snyder’s parents in the parking lot just before the arrival of several of their friends. This group of women walks around the Cranbrook grounds every Saturday. They came to the parking lot at the end of their walk and rang the bell with us. We hung out for a while and then went for breakfast.
One of the women rang the bell for her mother (who I assumed has passed on). She said her mother could never hear the bell before and so maybe now she would.
Another woman affirmed that she was ringing the bell because she was still here.