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Girl Scouts dedicate bell

June 25, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Steam Locomotive Bell No. 817 is pealing once more.

After being stolen, then recovered and stashed at the Hagerstown Police Department, the brass bell that once called Girl Scouts to camp meals has been installed at City Park in Hagerstown.

Girl Scouts formally dedicated the bell to the park Thursday.

One by one, Girl Scouts of all ages got to ring the bell, which is now perched on top of a black, streetlight-style pole in the southern end of the park.

Just when a Girl Scout color guard stepped forward for a flag ceremony, the Municipal Band practicing at the nearby bandshell appropriately started playing a march.

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Older Girl Scouts reminisced about the days when the bell sat atop a telephone pole at Camp Misty Mount and then Camp CoHeLo.

"It was part of the culture of the place," said Marguerite Cyr of Hagerstown.

It hung there from 1955 to 1974 when it disappeared from the pole one day.

Murph Edlund, who lives in Greenberry Hills, remembered helping then-Sheriff Charlie Price track down the bell.

The 1921 bell had fallen into the hands of a West Coast antiques dealer who bought it from someone in Allegany County for $200, said Edlund, who could not attend Thursday's ceremony.

Murph and Grace Edlund kept the bell at their house for about five years, bringing it out of his basement to ring it for the Bicentennial in 1976.

The Edlunds gave the bell to the City of Hagerstown, which kept it at police headquarters on Burhans Boulevard, a former railroad station.

But over the years, the bell was neglected.

At one point, "we didn't know where it was," admitted Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner.

The bell made a trip to a historical society in West Virginia before the Girl Scouts intervened and made sure it was returned.

The Washington County Girl Scouts Alumnae group then formed a committee to find a permanent home for the bell.

The project was stalled until committee chairwoman Mary Kalin brought up the subject with her friend Jack Barr.

The owner of Ellsworth Electric donated a pole left over from a job and city officials found a spot in the park where a sundial used to be.

Former Girl Scout B. Marie Byers said the brass bell represents the history of people who care about the community.

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