By Chris Ryon
Many years ago, I convinced my neighbor Helen Giles to donate a bell her late husband had purchased to my other neighbor, Carl Erikson. Helen’s husband, Bruce, had owned the building on the corner of Old Coach Road and 25A in East Setauket and dreamed of restoring the cupola and bell to the historic schoolhouse building.
Carl Erikson had a passion for church bells and the church he cared for, the Russian Orthodox Church in Setauket. Carl put the bell in back of his shop at the church. Known as “Father John” to his parishioners, he sadly passed away over two years ago. He was my neighbor and friend for 20 years.
Carl studied and analyzed bells and even had plans to cast his own. He bought scrap brass and had designs on how to melt and cast his own. He was also a physics teacher and loved numbers and engineering.
I was buying a large bandsaw from Carl’s estate when I saw the bell on a woodpile. I knew the present owner of the building was planning to reconstruct the bell tower. After discussing it with the executor it was donated back.
Steve Albanese now owns the old schoolhouse building. I called his busy accounting office and told his secretary that I had the bell. Steve called later and could not believe that the bell was coming back to him. He was working on plans to rebuild the cupola this spring and was looking for a bell. The bell now sits proudly in his office waiting area waiting to ring again.
Chris Ryon is the historian for the Village of Port Jefferson.