The Victory Bell, located on the Merle Fisher Athletic Field at the Cardington-Lincoln High School, was dedicated Friday night prior to the football game when the Pirates hosted Highland.
The 116-year-old bell has had a place on the athletic field since October, 1987 when it was moved from the tower of the church building on the southwest corner of Center and East Walnut Streets. It has sat on a carriage on the football field since that time and rung following every Pirate victory, whether it be a home or away game.
Eric Kill, spokesperson for the school, said Head Football Coach Jerry Williams decided this summer the bell needed a more permanent site.
Following a discussion with Ron Pine, president of the Cardington-Lincoln High School Alumni Association, it was decided fund raising was needed to complete the project. A call by Pine to Don and Dori Schorr Coomer of Troy, Michigan, CHS graduates, brought their agreement to a very generous donation covering the needed funding. With the help of brick mason Mario Villella who completed the masonry work, and Gale Slack, who designed the landscaping, the project was finished for homecoming this year. The bell sets solidly on a foundation that begins underground and above ground is cradled in brick.
The Coomers drove from Troy for the dedication and upon ringing the bell, Don offered his encouragement to the team with the message: ”Go Pirates!!!!”
Don and his brothers, Gene and Dale all played football for CHS in the 1940’s and 1950’s. All three brothers wore the number #40. Dori was homecoming queen in 1957 and Don was her escort.
Don and Dori used their donation to also memorialize the Coomer boys, honoring their playing days at Cardington. Gene passed away in 1982 and Dale in 2008. A marker in front of the victory bell pays tribute to them.
The story of the bell, published in the Morrow County Independent on October 29, 1987, written by this writer, describes the past history of the bell which began when it was placed in the tower of a newly constructed South Canaan MP Church about 1899. The building since razed, was located two miles east of the present Salem United Methodist Church. When the MP church congregation dissolved, the bell was brought to town and raised to the tower of the Nazarene Church at the above named location. The Nazarene’s had scrapped the deteriorated bell in that tower. According to the late Paul Miller, who related this information, a track was built above the bell and a floor constructed under it with holes for the ropes to pull it, a 660 pound cast iron bell. The bell has two clappers and was originally used during funerals and tolled the age of the deceased so people for miles around would be aware of the death and the service.
The church building was purchased by Cardington Masonic Lodge #384 in 1965 when the Nazarene Church moved to their new sanctuary.
Also meeting in the building was Mildred Chapter #50 of the Eastern Star.
The bell hung silently in the tower until the Lodge donated it to the school in the summer of 1987. The school’s Vo Ag students under the direction of Neil Swonger painted the bell in the school’s colors of red and black. It was transported to the school on a carriage by Brad Watts and Jim Brown, with the school’s maintenance and custodial service; Dan Marshman, principal and Rick Fryman, Industrial Arts Teacher. Pictured with the newly painted bell were Marshman, and Dusty Snyder and Steve Gist, Worshipful Master and secretary, respectively of the Lodge.
While preparing it for the paint job, high school students John Graham and Tim Singenstrue, art students, traced painting on the bell revealing the printing C S Bell Co., Hillsbor, O. Until 1899 this company had sold over 25,000 bells around the world.
The bell was ready to be rung following its first game appearance, but lo, the Pirates lost to Northmor’s Golden Knights. It was first rung in victory when the Pirates defeated Danville in 1988 and rang with gusto Friday night following the Pirates’ victory over Highland.
Thanks to all who have continued the bell tradition, and special kudos to Don and Dori.