Church Bells in Bristol

Posted: June 28th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Little Rhody, Miss Kate | No Comments »

We have arrived. (Well, Monday, but our internet service has been down.) The flight, car rental, luggage lugging, etc. were all at times something I could have used another set of hands for, but I took pride in my hard work and Kate was a dream baby. She ended up charming half the passengers on the flight, and by the time we landed had learned to (finally) wave hello back at all her admirers. That baby is sometimes, okay often, too good to be true.

So here we are in Bristol. Funny that I can hear the house painter’s radio right now and there’s a John Mellencamp song on. I do declare I am the queen of Lovers of One’s Home Town. This lil’ New England town couldn’t be any more beautiful. And of course it’s packed with memories, and my nostalgia wells up along with my histamines as I saunter down the tree-canopied streets.

I’d promised Kate a morning walk downtown. Now that I stay with my Dad when I’m home downtown is in easy striking distance, and aside from the harbor, the ancient rippled sidewalks (nostalgia), the red, white, and blue lined streets (a Forta July tradition), and all the beautiful old homes I wish I’d bought when they were affordable, there’s also now a Dunkin’ Donuts downtown. So, we walk.

Lately when I’ve been walking around Oakland I’ve been thinking about what it’d be like if we lived in a small town. But that’s no surprise. I yearn to live in Bristol again every time I come home for the summer. You can set your fancy Swiss watch to it. And when I go home in the bleak winter months, I thank God for California.

Yesterday Kate had plenty of new things to admire on our walk. She was impressed with the myriad American flags out in front of nearly every home. Bristolians aren’t making any political support-our-boys or Bush-family-values commentaries by flying flags in front of their homes. These folks (okay, we) are just truly patriotic. It’s old school, and it charms the bejesus out of me. At any rate, there are some “wicked big” flags that people hang straight down sorta perpendicular to the sidewalks and as wide, so when you walk past them they skim your head and it’s like you’re passing through a gate of some sort. Why see the Cristo exhibit in Central Park when you can pass through the flags in Bristol? Kate loved it. (Good girl! Like what Mama likes!)

Kate and I lunched with Aunt Mary (87) and Mimi (92), and those sisters have it going on! Kate smiled and laughed and played the whole time and they adored her. And we came up with the term Great Godmother to refer to Kate’s relation to Mimi (who is my Godmother).

And if the whole scene–us eating chicken parm (read: pahhhm) at Leo’s sidewalk cafe and taking in a muggy Tuesday afternoon in Bristol–wasn’t enough to send me to heaven and back, noon struck and with it the church bells.

Give me a ding-dong every noon from the church bells and I’m thrilled, but this bell ringer was clearly an over-achiever. The first song–yes the first–was The Star Spangled Banner. Yes, some dude was in a belfry and busted out The Star Spangled Banner on church bells. And it was no Ronco Bell-amatic. This was clearly some guy reading some arcane type of sheet music in order to play this complex song in its entirety. Though everyone else was clearly unaware that you don’t get this kind of show in other towns at noon. I appeared to be the only one losing my mind and glaring at the diners who’d carried on with their conversations.

Next up for our listening pleasure was My Country Tis of Thee. At this point I’m practically letting down milk with joy. And when it got to tricky points in the songs (can you tell by my verbiage here how musically savvy I am?) I swear there must have been another person or two pulling ropes on other bells. At least I envisioned some team doing Quasimoto-style bell pulling.

The guy(s) finished off with a third song which Aunt Mary, Mimi and I couldn’t place. Perhaps it was an original score. Not my taste, but good for him for trying out something new.

So yes, this is just a wee bit of what small-town life has to offer. Just staggering. I’ve got to track down that bell-ringer’s manager and recommend the guy for a raise. Who am I kidding: “track down.” I’m sure my father knows the guy.

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