Quasimodo for a Day

First Unitarian Universalist Steeple, Providence, RIWe arrived early, much earlier than we normally do. On a typical Sunday, I’ll drop Jack off and then drive a few blocks to find an open spot and get into a pew just as announcements are finishing up. Today we were early as we thought today was the field trip for Jack’s Sunday school class to a local Mosque. But today was the day the permission slips were due. So, we were a half hour early. And it was very lucky for us that we were!

Shortly after 10, a woman came through and asked if anyone wanted to go up and ring the bell. I beat the kids to saying, “Sure!” and after rounding up Jack, two other kids, me and Ann, we headed to the steeple.

The current building was built in 1816 and survived significant fire damage in 1966. Climbing up into the steeple was a trip in a time machine back to the nineteenth century. The higher we climbed, the more I felt I had to squeeze myself into tinier and tinier spaces. And the steps got smaller and steeper as well. But after 98 steps (yes, I counted, why do you ask?) we arrived at the top and had a glorious view of Providence on all sides.

First UU BellThe bell itself was one of the last, and largest, cast by Paul Revere and his son in the early 1800s. It weighs one or two thousand pounds (I forget what she said). When rung, it was a lovely tone but I am getting ahead of myself.

The kids had a blast looking out at the city and Ann and I played tourist taking lots of pictures. When 10:15 rolled around much too fast, we headed back downstairs to ring the bell.

Providence, RIA large rope went up through the ceiling above and to the pulley system attached to the bell. You give the rope a good heave down, as if you are trying to throw it through the floor) and on its way back up, the bell rings. When the rope stops moving up you grab it again (don’t hold on or you will either get rope burns or go for a ride in the air!) and repeat the process. The kids did most of the work, each taking turns to do a few pulls in succession, but I also got a good run of rings as well.

The Afflecks in the Bell TowerAfter five minutes we were done and it was time to complete the trip back down to the meeting house. I don’t know if or when I will get back up there but it was such a wonderful, fun experience. I highly recommend it!

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