Midnight Bell

Back during the Spanish influenza epidemic (they didn’t call it flu back then) my father was sent to live with his grandparents in the Appalachian Mountains because it was safer to be away from the crowded city.
At the end of the school year he was able to return home.
His grandparents gave him the kerosine lamp that had been on his bedside table (they didn’t have electricity yet.)
His aunt was the teacher at the one-room schoolhouse he had attended, and she gave him the hand-held school bell. I don’t know how she would have been able to do without that, but perhaps they were getting a bell installed on the roof.
I still have both of those things.
The chimney on the lamp is cracked so it can’t be used, but the bell is still fine and rings loudly.
When I was a kid my brother and I were only allowed to ring that bell at midnight on New Years Eve and I still do that if I’m home that night.
This year, because we’ve had our own epidemic, etc., that bell will inspire me to hope that everything will be back to normal by the end of the school year when I ring it at midnight on New Years Eve.

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Janet Ann Collins

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