Friday, December 28, 2012
Getting Ready to Ring In the New Year and Other Things
That Christmas train did come through right on time, and I have to say, it knocked DC Rocks somewhat off track. It didn't help that it took a few days to clean up the aftermath of a party which included a bonfire, massive amounts of food and drink, a bathroom door knob falling apart and last, but certainly not least, part of the ceiling fell in. (Still trying to determine if that was a good party or a not so natural disaster.) At any rate, now that things have calmed down a bit here, congratulations are in order to Peter Krogh- the winner of the DC Rocks' Drive By Truckers ticket contest.
Hopefully you have some down time coming your way as well and have a couple of minutes to read Peter's instructional and seasonal tale of local life once upon a time here in Washington, DC:
A Holiday Story by Peter Krogh
In the late seventies and early eighties, the National Cathedral was still being built. There was scaffolding surrounding the West Tower that ran to the soffit of the building's great sloping roof. (This is distinct from the current scaffolding, which is being used to repair earthquake damage.)
The scaffolding provided access to an area that looked and felt a lot like an attic. There was a bunch of stuff stored up there like architectural models. From that attic room, it was possible to get into the rest of the building.
The spiral stone stairways were dark and cold at night. It's possible to imagine running down one of these in the dark, right shoulder skidding along the wall, skipping out into darkness with the confidence that the next stair would actually be there.
If a visitor climbed the main spire, he would get to the bell ringing room, which had velvet-covered ropes hanging from holes in the ceiling. An experienced bell-ringer might choose the largest bell, and start that bell in motion by grabbing the rope and pulling hard.
On the biggest bells, the ringers might jump and grab the velvet section of the rope at its height, and then put all their weight on it. If one continued to hold onto the rope after its low point, one could ride nearly up to the ceiling. Taking this activity to the next level, an experienced bell-ringer could get a bell swinging, and let visitors hang on for the ride.
The ride would have been even more exhilarating if, let's just say, the visit was done surreptitiously at night, and the ringing of the bell became an advertisement that someone was in the belfry when it really should have been empty.
It's even possible that at one time the door to the roof might have been left unlocked, and a night time visitor would have access to even the very top of the roof in the company of all those gargoyles and that intense red light.
When I look at the Cathedral, I think about those Christmas vacations in my college years when I would rejoin old friends and go out looking for fun stuff to do...