Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Writing 101, Day Eight: Antique Antics -The Hoosier Belle

on June 11, 2014

I am an original Hoosier Belle cow bell, size No.3, made of brass, with a handle for attaching me to a rope around a cow’s neck . You can tell from the picture on my side. Also you can read that I was made by the Riverside Bell Co. of New York who recommends that you “buy no other”. Look inside me and you will see my clapper which makes a pleasant ding-dong sound while a cow grazes in the pasture. I’m not telling my age, but I go back to the 1890’s. Over the years I’ve lost the shine of my brass but I can still create a distinct sound. I have diversified my talents.

A gentleman farmer who kept a couple of cows for milk and butter bought me at the local dry goods store. Time passed, and also cow keeping. The milk man came along and the cows were sold. I was relegated to a storage shed until 1934, when the farmers’ youngest daughter got married. A whimsical groomsman discovered a new use for me. He and others in the wedding party tied me to the back bumper of the bride and groom’s car. I accompanied them on their way with a festive, if one-noted,clanging. The article about the wedding in the Sunday paper mentioned what the bride wore, but not a word about me.

Time and a generation passed and in 1959 the daughter of the 1934 bride decided to get married. Family came from out-of-town to celebrate her wedding. I was there, stored in the garage, but not lost to memory. Aunts, uncles and older cousins remembered me and retrieved me to play another wedding prank. They wrestled down the groom and put me on a rope around his ankle. The wedding photographer took a picture of the bride, groom and me which was included in the Bride’s Book. Too bad that it couldn’t have gone viral.

My next incarnation was a big leap from being member of the wedding. I was put to a practical use, maybe not so far-fetched from calling cows home. Part of the fourth generation of the family are three rowdy, energetic and curious boys who are the sons of the couple who married in 1959. These boys stumbled upon me hiding in the basement. They couldn’t imagine my purpose. Experimenting with possibilities they gave me a good shake. No one had ever heard the loud, far-carrying sound I was capable of. The boys’ parents thought of a neat use for a noisy old cow bell. At supper time they rang me to call the boys home for supper. Every one in the neighborhood recognized my sound and if the boys didn’t hear it their friends did and let them know it was time to eat.

The boys grew up and have children of their own. The 1959 bride has white hair but on the inside she can’t imagine she is that old. I’m older than she is and can relate She rented an apartment and moved to be near her sons and grandchildren. I’m here in her apartment, retired to a window ledge where I am placed next to old and new objects she cherishes. I think I will outlast her. I wonder where I’ll go next.

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