Friday, July 21 . . . .

Remembering Grandparent's Belling in Sunbury in the 1930s


with grandson and author John Durham

John Durham will talk from 4-5 p.m. about the value of collecting family stories then meet people and sign his book, The Belling from 5-7 p.m. in the Myers Inn Museum Meeting Room.   Admission is free and open to the public.

In the 1930's when Lloyd Ross and Winagene Granger were married, Sunbury celebrated by belling the couple. Many years later an aging Winagene had trouble remembering the present but was very clear on early events in her life and shared them with her grandson John. One of her stories is of her belling. John adapted The Belling from the perspective of a small boy.

John grew up in Columbus and occasionally visited Sunbury as a small boy. He graduated from Otterbein College and started an overseas teaching career. He has taught in Latin America, the Caribbean, Central Asia, and China. He met his wife in Hondurus. Currently they are working for Quality Schools International and are in Baku, Azerbaijan.

When John emailed about having a book event in Sunbury he was surprised to get a photo back of his mother, Linda (Ross) Durham and Polly (Whitney) Horn on their first day of school. Lloyd Ross grew up on Ross Road. His father built a school so his wife Easter could continue to teach after they were married. Lloyd worked for Bill Whitney at The Sunbury News until they moved to Columbus. Lloyd’s sister Bess married Polly’s uncle the late Judge Oatfield Whitney.

The Belling is a delightful picture book which is accurate until you look at the pictures which do not look like Sunbury.

Reading the book and looking at the illustrations is a good lesson for all storytellers. When we tell a story there is no way to determine how the listener will see the story in his mind. Both the teller and the listener bring their own information to the story so it will change as many times as is its told. The important thing is to record the story so it is not lost.

The church bells were the old Methodist Church near the cemetery entrance on Columbus Street. There was a drinking fountain on the northeast corner of Sunbury Square. The goldfish pond was behind the house on the north east corner of Vernon and Morning Street.

While promoting the book, I have been surprised to learn most people do not know what a belling is. Also called a cheverie, they were meant to welcome the new couple and celebrate their setting up housekeeping.

When my parents married in 1935, my father made sure all the doors and windows were locked on their first apartment at 85 East Cherry Street. After they had gone to bed men climbed onto to the porch roof and took my parents out for a belling. Mother was horrified to have everyone see her in night clothes.

"My classmates belled Bob and I at class reunion by having Bob push me in a wheelbarrow around a pond where we held our reunion. I ended up in the pond," remembered Polly Horn.

The Belling may be purchased for $8.50 in the Myers Inn Museum Gift Shop.

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