By DAVE GOSSETT
STEUBENVILLE - The Lincoln School bell is back home.
COMING HOME — The Lincoln School bell was placed at its new home near the Beatty Park entrance Wednesday following years of debate and a final repair and paint job of the 1,200-pound bell. Carefully moving the bell into place were, from left, Joe Marracino of the Steubenville street department, 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto and James “Brigham” Young. — Dave Gossett
After years of debate, a seizure of the bell and sitting in an empty city lot for the past several years, the purple and white bell was placed on a concrete pad near the Beatty Park entrance Wednesday.
"The Lincoln Lions are back," said Connie Young as she watched city employee Brian Young use a back hoe to slowly lower the 1,200-pound bell into place.
"This is Lincoln School," she said while taking photos.
The bell that once rang out from the original Lincoln School has been placed in Beatty Park in time for the 2013 South End reunion set for Saturday afternoon.
"I can remember the boys would pull the rope to make the bell ring. And you could hear it very well in our neighborhood," Connie Young said.
After the original Lincoln School was demolished in the early 1960s, the bell was placed in front of the second Lincoln School until that facility was closed.
The first Lincoln School was built in 1891, where the playground is now located. The second Lincoln School was built in 1960 and remained open until 2008. The building was sold in 2010 to Mark Nelson.
The low key installation ceremony Wednesday saw numerous references to Brian Young's father, Robert "Jabby" Young, who coached at Lincoln School for 40 years while also serving as a volunteer caretaker at Beatty Park.
"Jabby Young was a big part of Lincoln School. He would open the gym for the kids and made sure all of the South End kids had something to do," noted Connie Young.
"I know Jabby Young is looking down on us today. And I know he would be happy the bell is finally back in the South End. It has been a long process to make this happen," commented 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto.
"My dad really was Lincoln School. I played football and basketball for him when I attended Lincoln School. And he would work steady night turn at Weirton Steel so he could volunteer his time at Beatty Park. This was almost his personal park because he cared so much about it. Today means a lot to me personally. It is also very emotional for me," Brian Young said as he wiped a tear from his eyes.
Brian Young said he plans to join the 130 people who have said they plan to attend to South End reunion Saturday.
"There will be a lot of stories told and a lot of reminiscing Saturday afternoon. And it will be nice to see people I grew up with on Lincoln Avenue and other people I haven't seen for a long time. It will be a nice day. And they can visit the Lincoln School bell," Brian Young remarked.
James "Brigham" Young refurbished the cast iron bell and painted it purple and white, "because those were our school colors."
"I am glad I was able to be a part of this. We are going to have Debbie Booth paint Lincoln Lions in white on the front of the bell. We needed someone who is more artistic than I am to do the final artwork," laughed James Young.
"Please mention the concrete pad was poured by Jimmy Jenkins and Frankie Sciarra. Jimmy always puts a penny showing the date he does a job in the wet concrete. That's why the penny is in the concrete at the front of the bell and people will know in future years the bell was brought here in 2013," he explained.
Lincoln School graduate Don Durbin, who still lives on Lincoln Heights, was happy to see the bell find a home at Beatty Park.
"I'm glad it's back. This is all we really have that symbolizes Lincoln School," Durbin commented.
"I'm honored to be a part of this ceremony today. I'm also glad to see something positive come back into the city," commented Joe Marracino of the city street department who transported the bell to the park Wednesday.
Connie Creek coordinated the last-minute details to have the bell placed at the park.
"It was just sitting so long in an empty lot. I am so very, very glad it is now back where it should be.
"Everyone who comes to the reunion will want to see the school bell again," said Creek.
Lincoln School alumnus Lynn Bell Haines said the bell "is part of our history and now it is back where it belongs for all time."
"I appreciate the help and cooperation we have received from Mayor Domenick Mucci and 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto. It is wonderful to have our bell back in the South End. And I appreciate all of the grass cutting and cleanup work in Beatty Park for our reunion," stated Haines.
The reunion is for people who were born and raised in the South End from 1935 to 1975.
Haines said reunion attendees will meet at the first shelterhouse in Beatty Park after inspecting the Lincoln School bell near the park entrance.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)