Monday, February 20, 2012

The Bell Heist

For the complete history on the house I lived in as a child, you may want to check out this post I did back in September:  It's MY House

But, if you'd prefer the nutshell version, here you go:

My mom bought a house when she was in her early 20's.
She lived there until she had her first stroke in August of 2007. 

And never went back.

My step-dad sorta kinda foreclosed on it last year.

The house has been in limbo for the past few months--he didn't really fill me in on what was going on or anything.  I'd ask, but he'd dance around the subject.  Until about 2 weeks ago. 

He called and asked if he could bring a "truckload" of stuff over.

Uh, sure. 

And now I have a barn-full of "stuff" from my mother's house.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm VERY happy to have all this stuff.  Some of it was mine growing up, some of it was my mom's. I will take anything.  (I did notice my highly coveted New Kids on the Block sleeping bag amongst one of the boxes.  Yeah, baby, you're all jealous, I can totally see it)

But then I realized why he was bringing it all over.  He was moving out.

And I was right.  Was being vacated by Freddie Mac.

I didn't really know what to think.  I knew this day was coming.  I've known since 2007.  I just didn't know it was going to be now.  I hate not knowing what's going to happen to the house.  Will someone fix it up and live in it?  Will they tear it down?  Will they keep the hardwood floors?  The kitchen counter?  The carpet?  My bedroom?

On Valentine's Day, my husband and I went out to eat.  We decided to take a quick drive past "the house" before we went.  We pulled into the driveway and walked onto the front porch and looked in the big window. 

I shouldn't have.

The place was empty.  No furniture.  Nothing.

This is something I had never seen.  Ever.

Again, I wasn't sure how to react.  I knew it would be like that.  But didn't know it would be like THAT.

So we decided to go inside.  That was another bad idea. Weird is the only word that comes to mind.  It was very, very weird.

We walked back outside and I hear my husband say "we've got to take the bell".

"Huh?" I replied.

And after a brief moment, I knew what he was talking about and I knew that he was right.  We HAD to take the bell.

When I was about 10 years old, my mom installed a bell on a post on the front lawn, and this is where the house numbers resided (the post was about 5 feet tall, with the bell on top).  It's a working bell and I remember her ringing it all the time.  Not for any reason, just to be annoying.  (a mom story:  she would walk through the aisles of K-Mart at Christmas time and ring every bell she could find.  And she'd make a point to walk through the garden section and find the windchimes and make them all "chime"....just to be annoying.  Just to be my mom).

So, operation bell heist commenced.

That puppy was in the ground pretty well and we needed a couple screw drivers to get it out.  We scrounged around the house and didn't find anything.  So, we opted to come back after dinner (and a brief stop at the hardware store).  It would be dark, also--another bonus to properly steal the very loud lawn ornament.

And we did just that.  Picked up some screw drivers and drove over there after dinner and took the bell.  Yes, it rang VERY loudly while we were trying to get it into the trunk.  I'm sure people heard. 

But I didn't care.

We got the bell.  And that bell is going to go up in our yard now.  With the house numbers still attached.  I will think of all the memories of 104 West Main street when I look at the bell.  And I will smile.

(I'll work on getting you photos of the house and bell so you can get a better idea of it--but I needed to share my story with you all first.)

I told my mom what we did and she's never been more proud of her little thief.


  1. Love it! And I am glad your mom approved!

  2. That is the sweetest. Think how annoyed you once were when she would ring the bell and now you will smile and laugh to yourself everytime you see it.

  3. Love it! Bittersweet, for sure.

  4. Oh my gosh this is the sweetest hiest! I can't wait to see pictures!

  5.'ve got me all tearin' up. Such a sweet, sweet story.

    I can't wait to see the bell.


  6. I love that you stole the bell. I'm very sad for you that the house will no longer be in your family, I know how much the memories of that house and your life there mean to you. I'm so glad that I got to visit the house once during one of my visits. They house may change over time, but your memories can't be erased of how it once was and how it was living with your mom there.
    I can't wait to see the bell in your yard when I visit again.

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  8. sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, my friend. i would have done the same.

    my parents built the house they're in the year i was born. they're still there, and my mom calls it her "37 year starter home". about 3 years ago, they were discussing moving into one of the new senior communities. you know the ones, where the houses are like in a subdivision but the tenants have no maintenance, it's all done for them? i lost it. first, they're not that old, but the thought of someone else living in "MY HOUSE" was too much.

    thankfully, they decided to stay and are now in the renovation stage, bringing some things more up to date than they were 15 years ago.

    i know the day is coming, and i've watch my mom go through my grandparents' house after they passed and eventually sell it. i still drive by there once in a while, and every christmas i want to stop and tell them that the christmas tree does NOT go in front of that window!

    kudos to you for saving some part of your past. i'm sure the bell will look fabulous in front of your house!

  9. My favorite memory of the house was sitting in front of that big picture window on the porch. During one game of SkipBo, my big comeback was "At least my cat doesn't watch me play cards." Good one, I know. :) That is such a great house.