Parker of McShane Bell Foundry in Glen Burnie
sands the 5,000-pound bell that will ring
outside St. Francis of Assist church in midtown
are hoping that friends, relatives, rescue workers,
survivors will ring it."
W. Schlatter organized the project with the
theme: "To honor those who died and to console
those who remain."
article was taken from Section B of
The Baltimore Sun dated August 7, 2002.
the Death Toll Sept. 11
Andrea F. Siegel SUN STAFF
Meticulously sanded and buffed, an old
Chicago church bell will sound for a fire department chaplain
and all the other World Trade Center victims.
6,000 rotations per minute, the hand sander makes a terrifying
noise - the motor's deep growl coupled with the earpiercing
screech of its abrasive pad scraping metal - that could
curdle milk. But, headphones on, Ryan Parker hears only
bug-eye-like goggles that meet the top of his protective
breathing mask, the 22-year-old's eyes fix on the fist-sized
area of the huge bell he is buffing. His gloved hands gently
but firmly press the equipment over the surface so slowly
that in five minutes, he has put a shine on a section maybe
11 inches across and 6 inches high.
rubs a wedge of the abrasive pad in egg-sized circles, going
over a stubborn area as puffs of metal dust vanish in the
wind from the large fan. This is not just any job for
Parker, whose family owns the McShane Bell Foundry in Glen
switchboard operator told me he was gone. ...I said,
'Let me leave a messages.' And she said, 'No, no,
he is gone.' "
The Rev. David W. Schlatter,
friend of the New York City Fire Department chaplain
who died in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks
on the World Trade Center.
a few weeks, this bell will leave this cave-like bay to
toll in sorrow outside the New York City church and friary
that were home to the Rev. Mychal F. judge, the New York
City chaplain who died in at the World Trade Center on Sept.
107-year-old bell here is the largest of four that will
peal as part of the Remembrance Project, a memorial to all
who died in the attacks and their aftermath. The job
will take two weeks - the 5,000-pound bell stands 50 inches
high and is 63 inches at the mouth. But Mcshane, the lone
surviving maker of large church bells in the country, isn't
billing labor for this job. "It's a real heartfelt project
for our family," said William R. Parker III, McShane's vice
president and Ryan Parker's 33-year-old brother. The Rev.
David W. Schlatter, a Wilmington Del., fire chaplain, devised
the bell-tolling project on a train home from the wake Judge,
a mentor and fellow Franciscan friar. Judge died at the
towers, reportedly when hit by falling debris as he administered
last rites for a victim. "I first met him when I was 18,"
Schlatter, 52, said. "He did a retreat for us at Siena College,
I was a student. I was a seminarian." Afterward, they ran
into each other "at ordination, weddings and funerals."
In 1993, when Wilmington firefighters asked Schlatter to
be a chaplain, he sought out "Father Mychal."
asked him if I should do it," Schlatter recalled. "He said,
'You'll love it. They are great people. It'll take you a
year to break in.'" On the afternoon of Sept. 11, Schlatter
called the Church and Friary of St.Francis of Assist in
New York City. As has been his habit when a city firefighter
died in the line of duty, he wanted to offer supportive
words to Judge, a friar in residence there.
switchboard told me he was gone," Schlatter recalled. "I
said to myself, 'Of course he's gone - he wouldn't be sitting
here with all this going on.' I said, 'Let me leave a message.'
And she said, 'No, no, he is gone.'"
days later, Schlatter mused over ways to remember the man
known as the "fire friar," as well as the firefighters he
just felt I needed to do something," said Schlatter, who
also serves as director of Wilmington's Franciscan Center,
which has a tradition of tolling bells for various occasions.
"We've used bells in the past. Why not do something with
bells for this?"
plan began small - sounding one bell in New York City as
a tribute to Judge and the fallen firefighters. In a day,
he had the nod from Charles M. Cawley, president of the
MBNA Corp., which had bought six old Chicago church bells
in 1997 at Schlatter's request, to release the largest for
this project. McShane had restored two other bells from
the set in 1998.
plan calls for placing trailer-mounted bells at or near
each of the three crash sites and striking each bell once
every 10 seconds for each victim at the site, starting at
the time of each plane crash.
are hoping that friends, relatives, rescue workers, survivors
will ring it," Schlatter said.
bell being restored in Glen Burnie will rest outside St.
Francis, where part of west 31st Street will be blocked
off for expected crowds.
will toll in a resounding note of B for nearly eight hours
for the World Trade Center's estimated 2,823 victims.
think it's a very nice idea," said Erin McTernan, one of
Judge's two sisters living in Ocean Pines.
also is seeking permission to bring a 3,500-pound bell to
the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., where 189 people were killed,
and ring it about 31 minutes. A 2,800-pound bell will toll
for nearly 7-minutes in Shankesville, Pa., for the 44 victims
who died in an effort to retake their hijacked plane. Wilmington's
Fanciscan Center will toll a 1,700-pound bell for more than
8 1/2 hours for all the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
first, the big bell here must go from the dull gray-green
to gleaming bronze.
Parker family, third owners of the 148-year-old McShane
Bell Foundry, first offered free labor toward refurbishing
the bell, installing new clappers and mounting all four
bells on steel frames, as well as related work. Schlatter
is paying $29,000 in materials and related costs. Then the
Parkers asked companies they work with on bells to help
is special, it's for 9/11. Small as we are, we can donate
our labor," said William R. Parker Jr., 55, president of
the six-employee business.
began last month, when a local company hauled the bell away,
sandblasted it and brought it back the same day.
will take at least 50 hours for the Parkers to turn the
pebbly ecru finish into the luster of a church bell. Steady
hands on equipment guided by keen eyes are key. The goal
is to minimize the appearance of the pits in the metal -
flaws created during casting - as well as swirls from buffing,
while giving the bell an even glow.
comes a buffing with a coarse pad, then with a medium-grade
pad, then fine.
coarse pad leaves the surface smooth to the touch, but with
obvious scrape marks. They started July 30.
R. Parker Jr.'s sons will take hourlong turns with the sander.
The work can be tedious. And clad from chin to ankle in
coveralls reminiscent of those in Woody Allen's 1973 film
Sleeper, a worker can melt in the bay's heat, despite the
a die grinder with a fine wheel, they will scrub around
the lettering and between the raised lines that encircle
the bell and provide a small design. But it will take another
four hours to polish the bell with a commercial compound
that the Parker's mix with water and doctor with what William
Parker Sr. says are "secret ingredients".
will wipe the polish with soft cloths and tissue, hand-rubbing
to achieve the right luster. An airgun will blow off dust
or tissue residue, giving the bell a bright shine. A clear
enamel coat will deepen the color, providing a protective
finish that lasts 12 or more years.
Parker Jr., who estimated his company's labor at $6,000,
said he's "just surprised at how everyone is donating their
everyone found out what this was for, everyone came aboard,"
he he said.
month, Parker phoned his friend Robert H. Eagan, president
of American Alloy Foundry, Inc., to see whether he would
be interested in donating the labor to craft four bronze
said, 'Yes I would,'" recalled Eagan.
largest clapper, for the New York-bound bell, will be "a
little bigger than a cantaloupe," he said. And heavier:
35 to 40 pounds.
Baltimore branch of United Rentals, Inc. donated a forklift
for a month, so the parkers can move the bell, and O.T.
Neighoff & Son's Inc. of Glen Burnie contributed the sandblasting.
companies doing work at no or reduced cost include a Delaware
car dealership that will provide truck to tow the bells,
and the Pennsylvania and New York firms involved in building
and selling the bell trailers. At McShane, meanwhile, the
sand pile where the bell rested for five years is eerily
vacant, dominated by a wall of 19th-century bell molds and
strange not to see it there," said William Parker Jr. Still,
"I am going to sleep better when this project is done."