Bells at old Platina
A compiling from several informal emails and conversations with Reader Daniel about the bells
It was my gift of those 4-5 bells, that gave me the Platina nickname, 'Bell-Daniel' -- not the lower bell, just behind Fr. Seraphim in this old photo, with that overhead yoke on it's top, but PROBABLY the largest one, hanging up, behind Fr. Seraphim, and slightly to his left -- that one seems to be my large bell. It was a high quality carillon bell, in F-Natural pitch, and cast at the John Taylor Bell Foundry, in Loudsborough, England, which foundry existed since around the 1500's or so.
The smaller bells I gave Platina, were of poor quality steel, and bought as 'farm bells', from a Sears Farm Catalogue. But they had also hung and been rung at St. Eugene's Hermitage, Pt. Reyes -- they were good as high pitched treble tinkle bells.
I got the good carillon bell cheap, at $1,500.00 as it had been a demonstration bell, taken around in the back of a pickup truck previously, by a representative of a Dutch Bell company, and from whom I purchased it, [with HALF the money from the little retirement fund I'd earned working at LA County Hospital. I still am tired out just remembering my 6 years there!] I suppose that that Dutch man, must have also represented that English company and maybe also a French bell company, it seemed. Somewhere, I still have the receipt for donating that bell, signed by Fr. Seraphim for tax purposes.
I carted it up to Platina, (I don't remember the year now), wedged in the rear seat of my 1972 Pinto, fearing that it's weight would have broken my little car. I thought they would be very happy to have the bell, but nobody seemed to care. Of course, everyone there had their daily monastic obediences and were very busy. The Platina monastery, back then, was a very busy place. I had to unload it from the car myself. When I rolled it on the ground, over to the church, it lay flat on the ground. Fr. Seraphim came walking by and saw the bell flat upright on the ground [which in that position sitting on the ground, it could not ring]. He came over and gave it a boot kick. Then he said, "It doesn't work!" with a wry smile and walked away.
The day I brought it to Platina, it was I who had to find a way to hang it from a weak piece of poor quality lumber, between two smallish trees near the door of the church. It ended up hanging about 4-5 feet off the ground. Before my big bell, they had had only steel propane tanks to hit to make bell sounds.
It later survived the fire that destroyed the first church, (the year after Fr. Seraphim's passing, when Fr. Herman was in Australia, evangelizing that continent, etc.) and is seen in a photo of those ashes, labeled, 'Bells and Ashes'. I think that photo is in Orthodox Word.
It's sweet mellow ring, giving hearers an UPBEAT feeling, could be heard for many miles down the mountain, as it had earlier, when I had it hung from a ground level log belfry at the OCA St. Eugene's Hermitage near Pt. Reyes (about a hour's drive north west of SF). I was there from the start of 1972-74, or thereabouts, and then I had to move to SF to return to hospital work. I had been treated so badly there, (including it was said about me: 'We need more toilets, yet Daniel puts BELLS instead....with MY money!!!') that I took my 4-5 bells with me when I left, gifting them to Platina later on. But that one big English bell, was the only high quality bell.
There were, at St. Eugene's, THREE flush toilets there!!!....and more were not needed!...and at any rate, I....had no say in whatever LITTLE monies were spent on that Diocesan property anyway! Today it no longer belongs to them, as they sold it outside the church, several years ago, for a few million I heard, to some rich non-Orthodox (this was arranged or instigated by Met. Jonah Paffhausen!!!)
But, yes, when I could, I did take up to Platina various animal foods, foods for the people there (mostly gifts from Russian people in SF, as big bags of Kasha, etc.) ...in fact, on the trip in my Pinto, with the huge weight of that bell, I also had packed in a lot of such other items.
Yes, I had expected jubilation when my bell was first presented, but instead I had trouble getting the 3-4 other helpers to lift it up to the support ...which piece of scrap timber I had to find amidst their rubble. But, the reason was that every one there was super busy with their daily monastic obediences. Clearly, Fr. Seraphim, Mary Mansur & her Mom, and others, WERE happy to hear it ring. But, it was a busy place back then. And, every little task, was done, only, with a blessing......
No time for a brass band playing!
Later, as that bell and the other smaller ones, hung from the roof-top bell tower on the first church, they were rung for the funeral of Fr. Seraphim, which I also attended. I would guess that my good English bell must still be there, but by now they probably have more bells, as such bells can now be bought from Russia & Greece, etc. easily. I don't remember it's weight, but it took 4 people to lift it safely. It was made of bronze, the typical age-old metal alloy mixture for fine quality carillon bells.
Just getting the bells to Platina, I felt was a miracle at that time, as my car broke down and ran out of gas half-way up the road to the monastery, and it almost couldn't make it up that steep road, all the way to the monastery. So, my 'prayer-mobile', as it inspired to prayer, to keep it going!!! as I named my Pinto, got a LOT of my prayers, and finally! it did get me and the bells up to the monastery!
I felt that God wanted the bells there.
By the way, had I ordered that exact bell, and not got it as a bargain, it would have cost $3-4 thousand dollars. So, price wise, it was a bargain, as a 'used-demonstration' carillon bell.
And, I bought them from the Dutch bell agent, at St. Eugene's Hermitage (the Pustinka), Pt. Reyes, Calif. in 1972, when I was caretaker there. The man drove the big English bell, in the back of a pickup truck, from San Francisco, if I recall (or somebody did, as I had no vehicle in my 2 and a half years stint there).
When I left St. Eugene's, I put the bells in storage, and then had them with me, as I moved from apartment to apartment in San Francisco, till I drove them up to Platina between 1977-1979 or so, after I had left the OCA and joined the Russian Synodal Church, in about 1978, or so.
John Taylor Bellfoundry, Loudsborough (or Loughborough), England. That bell foundry claims to be 'the oldest bell foundry in the world', and is in Leicestershire.