September 24, 2013

Wedding Bells

No, not mine, obvi!

I wanted to share a cute story with my readers. It was submitted to my college's alumni magazine by one of my floormates from my junior year and her husband. Enjoy!

"The story starts with the bells that ring from the top of the Main building. I'm not sure what year the college replaced the old Schulmeric Bell set for a newer system that required less space, energy, and maintenance. But I know that the old machine was placed up for auction in 2010.

"My father's congregation (Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Onalaska, Wis.) was building a new church at the time, and I had this pipe dream that I could buy the bell set, fix it up, and donate it to the new church. I checked the remains of my meager bank account - which had slowly been drained from a semester as an unpaid intern in Washington, D.C. - and prepared myself for what would certainly be a high-stakes bidding war. I placed my first bid on the auction website and followed the bidding religiously (pardon the pun) for the next week. My contribution to the new church was at stake, after all. It must've been highly coveted," he jokes, "no bid exceeded my minimum bid of $11. I informed my parents they needed to make room for a surprise.

"As it turned out, the Schulmeric Bell Company no longer manufactured the unit, nor any of its components. Furthermore, none of the mechanics on the company payroll were familiar enough with the old system to even passably repair it. So I set about fixing it myself - for one horrible, miserable, frustrating afternoon, anyway. Then life happened. I received a job offer to work full time on Capitol Hill. I moved to D.C., and the massive unit moved to my parents' garage. When it became apparent that I wasn't going to tinker with it anytime soon, my parents began selling the parts for scrap. I visited their home that Christmas to see an empty garage. All that remained of the set was the keyboard and bench. Or so I was led to believe..."

"It took four men to move it," Margie Stein, Don's mother, says.

"It was a large carillon in several parts that probably weighed four or five hundred pounds," Don Stein Sr. elaborates. "There was a console, a three-foot monitoring speaker box, a 32-key keyboard piano bench, then the main component parts, which were metal cabinets filled with electronic components, about six feet high by two feet wide, and there were three of those."

The Steins held the bell set for about a year, but didn't find any interested buyers nor any way to fix the thing. "But the timepiece," Don Sr. says, "the clock that activated the carillon, I thought I could perhaps take it out - it's beautiful. And I did. I removed it, I rewired it, and it worked just fine."

"At that point we hadn't thought about Donnie yet," Margie interjects. "But when Don and Emmie announced that they were getting married, we started wondering whether we could do anything with it as a wedding gift." They took the timepiece to an Amish craftsman in Cashton and asked him to enclose it in a case, making it a tabletop clock.

And when they presented it to the couple at their wedding? "Tears from Emily, and Donnie was speechless," Margie recalls.

Don Sr. adds, "They will have their time from Luther with them forever."

The younger Don Stein shares this sentiment, noting that the clock is "forever keeping time with the place where we met."

Can I get a collective "AWWWW"?

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