The Day I Tapped The Bell

       The bell at the old Grade School had its sound and its meanings. It rang for "books to take up" in the morning and for recess to start and to be over and for dinnertime and best of all, for school to be out in the evening.
       For some reason, for a couple of days, the rope that reached from the bell in the bell tower all the way to the bottom floor was taken down. There was a built-in ladder in one of the storage rooms on the second floor that went up to the bell tower, so the only way to rang the bell was for someone to climb up there and beat the tapper against the bell. I remember it very well. It was my second year in the sixth grade and Mrs. Kathleen Alderice was my teacher. She had used several of the boys to do the ringing of the bell, but finally she picked me. Recess was over and time for books to take up so she told me to climb up there and tap the bell. I proudly climbed up to the bell tower, which was very high and from there you had a very good view of the town. I was supposed to tap the belt a few times and come on down, but I had always prided myself on my rhythmic talent and I just couldn't resist whipping out a few tunes with that tapper against the bell. I think I had the whole town scratching their heads and trying to figure out what kind of message that kind of a bell ringing meant.
      When I came down and went to my room every one was sitting at their desk. They were all quiet, but some were smiling faintly so as innocently I went toward my desk, Mrs. Kathleen said, "Don't bother to set down. Just come on up here."
      Now earlier in the school year, her husband, Mr. Horace Alderice, had bought her a factory built paddle. It had a one-hand or a two-hand grip on it, either way she wanted to use it. She bent me over her desk and played every tune, on my rear-end that I had played on that bell, only she added a few stanzas to each tune. I deserved every lick that she gave me and still remember every on. The seat of my pants was smoking and I had to eat off the mantle for awhile because I had trouble setting down.

(c) copyright by Melvin "Bubbie" Martin 2001

The Old Smithland Grade School

Present day Board of Education site after renovation