Several days ago I found myself standing (a bit reluctantly) on the peak of the roof of the Methodist Church. A spindly aluminum extension ladder led to the edge of the roof, and a second ladder was propped up on the first, leading all the way to the ridge and the belfry. Woody Billings had graciously offered (OK, he was cajoled by the preacher, Joyce Reynolds) to repair the mechanism that allows one to toll the bell by pulling on a rope in the vestibule.
After removing the louvers in the belfry to gain access to the bell Woody discovered that the rope is wound around a 3-foot hand-made wooden wheel attached to an axle that turns the bell. On the wheel is a metal plate engraved with the words, "Made by Lawton Howard, 1979." Woody wanted to be sure I saw this normally hidden example of my dad's craftsmanship.
And so it was that I was standing on the peak of the church roof on a sunny August morning. Had the upper ladder on which I was standing actually been secured to something more stable I might have been inclined to stay a while longer and enjoy the view. But I was happy to climb back down.
Woody took some photos of the bell and the wheel. Maybe he'll email one to me so I can publish it.
[Our current monthly Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Old Toothbrush Man, published August 01, 2005. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news080105.htm.]
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