Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The church bell

Up in the belfry there is a working bell.  It is pretty loud.

My father used to call us children to church by pulling on a rope and getting the ringing started.  He would pull the rope about 10 times and his own children would march in with his wife and other children would come as well.

I don't know much of the history of the church, but I know some of the history of the town.  It was decided in 1910 that the town of Runnemede (population 500 maybe) needed a church.  I believe the name Mt. Calvary Union Church was named "union" church because it was a union of the various denominations in the small town.  I know that one of the builders stayed with MCUC until his death.

I believe the bell was used to call people to church and those nearby could hear that call.

The bell was used for other occasions as well.  I remember when WWII ended in Europe on V-E day my dad went over to the church and rang the bell. He rang it for a long time.  I was only two but I remember that and I remember when Japan surrendered there was another ringing of the bell.  Of course by the time Dad got to Runnemede there were two other churches.  There was the Lutheran church and the Catholic church.  And with Runnemede being built up by that time, I don't know how far the sound of the bell went.

Also, after weddings, the bell was sometimes rung -- not always.  I asked that it be rung on my wedding day, but my father didn't want to do that.  He was losing one of his girls and, well, you've all seen Father of the Bride so I guess you can understand why he wouldn't ring the bell.

To my brother Mark:  Did you ring the bell on my wedding day?  Just wondering.

The bell still rings when someone pulls the rope.  But you have to pull that rope gently, because pulling too fast, or too hard will turn the bell upside down and then the rope gets all messed up.

I remember my father getting up into the belfry on a couple of occasions to get the bell straightened out -- he had to unwind the rope where it had gotten tangled, and he was not a happy camper on those occasions.  I think Sue Youngblood's father also came over to the church to fix the bell on a couple of occasions.

I think it is amazing that I can see Mr. Youngblood as he was then, and Mrs. Youngblood as she was then.  But I can't see how my aunts and uncles looked in the late 40s/early i

My sister, Debbie reminded me that my father always rang the bell at exactly midnight on New Year's Eve.  And when I say "exactly midnight", I mean, exactly midnight.  Dad would check with the phone company a couple of times a day to make sure his pocket watch was holding perfect time and that it was set with US Naval Observatory Time.  And, I can't believe I forgot to mention that!

Well, I guess that's enough about the bell at MCUC.  Ring that bell one more time (at least) for me.


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