Jesse West- 3 Ring my Bell

Meg was my roommate my freshman year and she tolerated my odd humor with ease. Meg was all color and light. She showed all of the girls in Jesse Hall West Wing how to do our makeup and dress like grown ups. She was artistic with nimble hands. She made us all matching rings and bracelets by weaving willow twigs with her hands while the others played guitars and sang. She also had a fine repertoire of practical jokes. She was fond of spraying a tiled floor with puffed rice cereal by blowing it under the locked door.
Now Meg loved animals of every kind and species. Once again, this rule was stringently enforced across campus, except in the room she and I shared. A room about the size of a large hot tub. The rules stretched. First, a huge tank of gold fish, then a stray cat, who seemed overwhelmed with the desire to swim with the fishes. Then, the rules were blown out the 12 foot giant windows. A pup, big and brown came to live with us and a fine addition he was. For nearly two months, his presence remained a secret with wild dashes to the fire escape when the Resident Assistant would ineffectually perform nightly room checks. Eventually, Meg was ratted out and Pluto went to live on a farm.
Kay, Cheryl Ann and Jan sang thousands of songs outside, guitars in hand. Often passersby joined us under the huge trees, a few drifted in and became a part of the rhyming team. Meg and I were a tad croaky in our voices, so we leaned quietly against the red brick in the setting sun and felt the stream of a powerfully bonded Us that imprinted itself during the long Nebraska semesters we spent together.

We spent holidays and harvests with each other’s families. Cheryl Ann and Jan especially became like other siblings in my home. We became like many women and men who serve together. We were everything to each other: mother, sister, commander, confidant, and counselor. Huddled together, we nested in Nebraska’s finest pastures and worshipped the night sky and its shooting stars.

I was one behind on practical jokes but did I find a doozy. Jesse Hall was an old Chapel building and as I was always looking at the sky, I saw what no one in ten years had noticed: an ancient brass bell at the top of Jesse hall, begging to be rung. Simple investigation located a trap door at the top of the second floor landing, a high old ceiling 30 feet up. The appropriate ladder was temporarily requisitioned, drills conducted, and in the crisp midnight, the ancient bell rang throughout the campus. Quick maneuvers hid the ladder, recruits feigned surprised wakefulness and innocence. We managed to pull this prank not once, but twice. Not long after, a formidable lock appeared and barred any further bell ringing.


  1. Ronald Brandhorst
    Submitted on 2012/02/13 at 12:30 am
    Howdy, while I didn”t actually live in Jesse, I spent a lot of time there especially freshman year when three of my best friends lived there. Plus, being gonzo football players, we had to ring the victory bell when we came back from road trips and the dorm counselor did not appreciate that in the middle of the night. Any trek in the halls was incredibly noisy since the wood floors,, I think, dated back to the twenties or thirties. But you did bring back a flood of memories. Thanks. r b

    Submitted on 2012/02/13 at 12:36 am | In reply to Ronald Brandhorst.
    I never figured you for a rabble rouser! Here I thought I was the original! The lock they put on there won’t ever budge for sure! I bet that bell misses being rung every 30 years or so.

  2. Hey, this is such a great series. That really brings back a lot of memories about college life – mine in the late ’60’s. We had some pranks but nothing like what you described. Yes, times have changed – the one phone per floor, curfew, etc. dk

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