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AISD reunited with a piece of its history

AISD reunited with a piece of its history
Posted on 03/07/2018

Old Aldine School Bell

If a bell could talk, it would have quite a story to tell.

The bell in question is one that hung in the bell tower in one of the first schools in the history of Aldine, the 1910 two-room frame schoolhouse that was located on Aldine Bender (FM 525) just east of what today is the Hardy Toll Road.

In 1934, the building, along with the bell, was moved to the northeast corner of Aldine Westfield Road and Aldine Bender Road where Lane School is located today. On November 19, 1948, a fire erupted in the gym (the cause was faulty electrical wiring). The gym, band hall, along with the two-room schoolhouse, burned to the ground and the bell and its tower fell with the building.

The bell was placed in the basement of the S.M. Mars building. The bell ultimately came into the possession of O.V. “Shorty” Calvert, who was a descendant of an early Aldine family who attended the early Aldine school. Calvert Elementary School is named after Mr. Calvert.

In 1981, Edgar Reeves, who was a 1952 graduate of Aldine High School and whose family were some of the first residents of Aldine, learned that Shorty was going to sell the bell. Mr. Reeves asked him not to sell it outside of the Aldine community because he wanted the bell to remain in the Aldine community. Mr. Reeves said he upped the price a “bit” and became owner of the bell.

In 1986, the bell was used in Aldine ISD’s 50th anniversary celebration at Thorne Stadium. Mr. Reeves kept the bell in his insurance office until his retirement in 1994 and then moved it to the family home in Uvalde County, where the family enjoyed ringing it on special occasions.

When Mr. Reeves and his wife Carolyn learned the district was planning to open a Heritage Museum to celebrate Aldine ISD’s rich history, they knew where the bell should be placed.

“I never thought the bell should belong to me or any individual,” Mr. Reeves said. “It belongs to the Aldine community. I purchased it to be certain it would not be lost to Aldine. When I learned of the Aldine Heritage Museum and that it had the full support of Dr. (Wanda) Bamberg, I just knew the Museum would be the perfect home for the bell. It will be protected and visible to the public.”

Mr. Reeves, whose family has donated a variety of other items to the Museum, remembers hearing his father, uncles and several others who grew up in Aldine talk about ringing the bell. One of those men was Carol Teague, who later became superintendent of the Harris County Department of Education. Mr. Teague told him the rope that was used to pull the bell would often come off the wheel of the bell, disabling it. Because Mr. Teague was small and could easily climb the tower, his teacher would send him up to enable the bell to ring again.

“For some 36 years, Carolyn and I, our sons and grandchildren, have enjoyed providing a safe home for the bell,” Mr. Reeves said.

And now, thanks to the Reeves family, other generations will have the chance to see some of Aldine’s first history for years to come!