(Originally posted at https://www.patreon.com/riversdaughter)
My deepest apologies for dropping off the planet! My schedule got eaten by home repairs, doctor visits and, to be honest, my bank account hitting mothball-stage, all of which conspired to effectively ground me for a bit. But! Things seems to have stabilized a bit, and I’m back up and running again, albeit closer to home than usual….
A friend on Twitter posted a thing recently that asked “Without naming your city, what is your city known for?”, and I thought about what was nearby, and was reminded that one of my favorite spite monuments is just a few miles away: the John Brown Bell
So, back around the start of the Civil War, there was an abolitionist named John Brown. Mr. Brown appears to have had a rather “V for Vendetta” way of going about things, and made quite a name for himself as he went around doing everything he could to set off, well, basically the Civil War (he was going for a large scale anti-slavery revolt, which, I mean, is more or less what the war was, so… he sort of succeeded?). He eventually ended up getting pinned down and captured at the Harper’s Ferry fire station where he and a few folks had holed up in Virginia, brought to trial, and executed for treason and murder, along with a few other folks, which had something of a catalyzing effect on the whole issue and helped push things toward the war.
Shortly thereafter, a company of soldiers from Marlborough, Mass. were stationed down in Harper’s Ferry, because war, and as part of the capture of the area, were told to salvage anything they could. Several of the soldiers were members of the Marlborough fire department, and they had a fire station with no bell, and well, the Harper’s Ferry fire station had a really nice one, so they decided to take it home. There’s some additional shenanigans where they can’t get the bell home by reason of transportation funding, and it ends up buried in a garden for safe keeping for a while, before it finally makes it way up north to it’s new home.
The war ends, time passes, and Harper’s Ferry sets up a wax museum about the whole thing because we really like museums to things like major historical events in this country, and they decide to approach Marlborough about getting the bell back to put in the museum, figuring that the city would cheerfully hand over the bell.
This did not go as they planned. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. No? Didn’t think so. Y’all are smart folks.
They try this several times. At one point the words “Neener” and “tough noogies” are allegedly used by the chairman of the Marlborough Historical Society. At least one mayor of Harper’s Ferry has made comments about trying to steal it back, but well, it’s wired with a very nice alarm system.
It’s currently sitting right downtown in a small park, looking like just another relic of some random historical event (Massachusetts has a ridiculous number of things with plaques commemorating everything from actual major historical events like Bunker Hill to “George Washington once rode a horse through this intersection on his way to somewhere else”…no really, that one’s in Waltham), but it is apparently a rather hotly contested item between the two places, and I find myself deeply amused by the whole thing, and I may giggle just a little every time I drive past it.
Oh, yeah… the park’s name? It’s Union Park.