Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Artie Trunzo's story about the Victory Bell

Before you read Artie's story, check out this preliminary online report from Sept. 18, 2008, which Phil Harris shared: Conference rivals battle for Victory Bell.

What's missing from that report is the story of how the legendary Victory Bell made its way back to where it belonged. They say alumni helped save the Victory Bell tradition, but give no details.

Not surprisingly, Artie is one of those alumni.

Here's his story:

I still get my hair cut, what's left, at Frank's Barber Shop in Pitcairn. I always go there on Saturday. The same crew is there every week - - the older guys from Pitcairn High School.

I always heard talk about this Victory Bell. The Bell, which was kept on some sort of cart, was from a locomotive from the Pennsylvania Railroad. Pitcairn teams were called the "Railroaders."

The Bell Game was between Pitcairn High School and Trafford High. The last time they played, Pitcairn won and kept the Bell.

As we know, Pitcairn High became Gateway High, and the Bell was forgotten.

When they where cleaning out Pitcairn High, they were going to junk the Bell. A man by the name of Walker, who worked at the school, saw it in the junk pile and took it home. It remained at Mr. Walker's home for some time in his garage.

His wife was our kindergarten teacher. His son went to Thiel College and belonged to a fraternity. He took the Bell to Thiel.

During Thiel's football games, the pledges would run up and down the sidelines ringing the Bell when Thiel scored.

Pitcairn had its Centennial Celebration, and the High School Alumni wanted to bring the Bell back. But no one knew where it was.

During one of those Saturday haircuts, I was listening to them wishing to find the Bell. I told them the story I heard. They asked if I would help them.

I called Mrs. Walker's daughter. I got her number from Frank the Barber. She verified my Bell story, and gave me the Fraternity name.

I called the Fraternity, and they agreed to let the Alumni use the Bell for the Centennial. I agreed to return the Bell to them after the Centential Celebration.

The Alumni agreed. They sent a delegation to Thiel to return the prized Bell.

The Bell spent its life in the front yard of the Fraternity. Snow, rain, etc. The Alumni brought it back, cleaned it up and made a new cart for it.

This is without a doubt the most cherised artifact from Pitcairn High School.

As a Pitcairner, it was an honor for me to be involved with the High School Alumni. These were people who went to school with our mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts.

But even better, it was great to bring the Class of '67 into contact with them. They always asked if I graduated from Pitcairn High. I said, "No. Gateway Class of '67!"

They took the Bell back as promised. A few years later Rullo Vecchio, a former Pitcairn Council member and Democratic Chairman, made arrangements to bring the Bell back permanently.

If you go to the Gateway Gators Web site, there are pictures of the "Bell Game."

fyi: Gateway kept the Victory Bell, as the Gators defeated the Penn-Trafford Warriors 44-8. It was basically over at the half with the score 41-0.

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