“Ring, ring goes the bell; The cook in the lunch room’s ready to sell. You’re lucky if you can find a seat; You’re fortunate if you have time to eat. Back in the classroom, open your books; Gee but the teacher don’t know how mean she looks.”

– “School Days” (1957), by Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, in our confabulations about the C.S. Bell Co. of Hillsboro, we’ve examined how the venerable bell merchant of yore maintained that churches and farms are incomplete without a bell, and you might surmise that old 1894 catalog we’ve referenced asserts the same thing about schools.

If you did … ding, ding, ding!

Page 22 of the 125-year-old catalog distributed by the C.S. Bell Co. talks about “The necessity and advantages of school bells,” saying, “In the present age (remember, this is 1894, folks), definite and defined time is essential to all things where people are expected to act collectively, and in order to train youth in this important part of life, some means of announcing the hours of school is a prime necessity, and the most available means for doing so is the ringing of a bell.”

When I close my eyes, I can imagine my grandparents, and my great-grandparents before them, as young boys and girls, walking six miles uphill in the snow to an old, one-room schoolhouse.

I see them seated at their wooden desks in an edifice of learning of long, long ago, as a school bell tolls on a new and glorious morn. And when the day’s lessons are over, the bell rings out again as they walk uphill (again) six miles in the snow in their arduous journey back home.

The C.S. Bell Co. recognized that in the year of our Lord 1894, there were other means of telling what time it was but asserted, “The clocks of a neighborhood or village may vary a half hour or more, and children attending school by these clocks come straggling in, interrupting or delaying the duties of the day. If a bell announces the hour, promptness is the rule, and habits of punctuality are inculcated that will be of more value in later life to everyone so trained than the cost of a bell.

“To those who have been accustomed to the use of bells on schoolhouses, it is very difficult to understand how any district or community can get along without one; they are the most useful thing connected with the school, and nothing that can be purchased for an equal amount of money will compare with them in usefulness.”

I don’t know of too many, if any, schools that still ring bells like the ones the C.S. Bell Co. produced in Hillsboro to announce that classes are about to commence, but there are some Sunday mornings where I can hear an old church bell tolling in the distance a mile or so from my abode in the country. I smile as I know it’s the same bell my grandfather, and his parents, heard many a time in the days of yore.

On that note, let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company, is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees and is a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.