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Philadelphia Scores Doubles during World Series--in Miami!

by Rob Bannister

As a swapped pair of bells augurs ill for a fatigued peal band, so, too, does a 3-games-1 deficit for a World Series victory. To distract themselves from their home team’s impending defeat, Philadelphia’s Bruce and Eileen Butler turned their attention from baseball to singles, doubles, and triples of a different sort—namely, Grandsire, Cloister, and Plain Hunt. These methods were the focus of a 4-day training session led by the Butlers in early November for the Miami Guild of Change Ringers.

The first ringers in the rotation for the Saturday morning kick-off were Phil Hinton and his partner, Kimberley Martins. Phil is the seventh generation of his family to ring, and many bell ringers may have known his father, John, an avid contributor to the Ringing World. During a visit to Worcester Cathedral in his native England last year, Phil pulled the rope for the first time in some 35 years, and Kimberley received introductory training. The two were surprised and excited to learn from Mark Regan, Ringing Master at Worcester Cathedral, that change ringing was alive and well in South Florida--a mere 35 miles south of their Pompano Beach home. The two have since been joining the Miami Guild’s weekly practices and injecting a renewed enthusiasm in the band (they even arranged to have a simulator hooked up--more on that below).

Having breakfasted on guava and cheese pastelitos and coffee and set the bell tower’s thermostat at 65 degrees, the Miami ringers were ready to get to it. As an unseasonably strong sun lit up the ringing chamber, Phil, Kimberley, Rob Bannister and the Butlers grabbed hold and began ringing some Plain Hunt and Grandsire Doubles. After lunch, Judy Paul and Bell Tower Captain Marguerite Merrill tested their studies of the blue line as they took turns ringing inside to Grandsire. To practice the 4-5 dodges and vary things a little, Bruce weaved Cloister Doubles into the afternoon’s ringing. After solid progress, the band brought the bells down and retired to the lobby bar of the neighboring Marriott where all enjoyed the taste of the libations and the sight of Biscayne Bay, though not so much the sounds of the baseball game broadcast. So we moved on to Little Havana for mojitos and a traditional Cuban dinner including plantains, ham croquettes, fried yucca, and ropa vieja.

Back in the bell tower on Sunday morning, we raised the bells, opened the louvers, and gave Trinity churchgoers a listen to the sounds of Grandsire Doubles followed by some well-struck call changes. We then drove over the causeway to South Beach for brunch on Ocean Drive. Later, Ken Whiting and Jody Vargas welcomed us back at the tower where they joined us for an afternoon focused on plain hunting and good striking. We capped the day with a stroll down Lincoln Road on South Beach and outdoor dining at one of the many cafes. We all did our best to quickly usher Bruce and Eileen through the many Yankees fans congregating around large screen TVs. There’s no shortage of New Yorkers in Florida!

While the rest of us toiled away at work on Monday, Bruce and Eileen took a drive over to Shark Valley in the Everglades to visit another kind of tower—a lookout tower high above the sawgrass marshes that affords views of alligators, anhingas, and other native wildlife. That evening, we met back up in the bell tower for an intense practice, alternating between Grandsire Doubles, Cloister Doubles, and call changes. Luck was on Bruce’s side—not only did he get us through a touch of Grandsire Doubles, but he could monitor the Phillies beating the Yankees in game 5 as we ate pizza after practice next door at the Doubletree.

On Tuesday, Bruce and Eileen spent the day on Key Biscayne walking the white sand beaches and--you guessed it--climbing the steps of the Cape Florida Lighthouse, a 95-foot white-brick tower originally built in 1825 (they just can’t seem to escape their fixation on towers). They even spotted a manatee! That evening, we (and perhaps even some of the neighbors) enjoyed the sounds of all eight bells as we focused on Plain Hunt Triples and bringing Jim Nolan up to speed on Grandsire Doubles. The practice marked a strong finish to the four days of ringing, and we celebrated the occasion with dinner at the Buena Vista Bistro in Little Haiti. It was also a celebration of our friendship with the Butlers, friends to some of the Miami ringers going back to the 1996 AGM in Miami and friends to all since last year’s AGM in Miami. We look forward to their return in the not-so-distant future.

The Miami Guild enthusiastically welcomes all visiting ringers as we look to expand our training program. In fact, a few weeks prior to the Butlers’ visit, we enjoyed a training organized by Phil & Kimberley and provided by Bernard Taylor whom Phil and Kimberley know from Worcester Cathedral. Bernard came from England in early October and brought key equipment needed to set up a simulator on one of the bells. He taught us how to install the equipment and tie the clapper, he explained how to use the Abel software on the computer, and he showed us how to ring with the simulator (we had difficulty differentiating between his ringing and the computer’s, so he had to really focus on striking poorly!). Now we can practice with Abel when ringers are too few to assemble a band. Many thanks to Bernard for taking the time to do this for us. Bernard is pictured in the photo taken outside the bell tower (from left to right: Rob Bannister, Bernard Taylor, Kimberley Martins, Phil Hinton, Ken Whiting, and Judy Paul).

Remember, ringers in search of warmer climes find Florida especially welcoming in the wintertime. Plan a visit or let us know if you’re in town!

Posted Nov 24, 2009


Dianne S P CermakDec 12 2009, 9:31 pm

How wonderful that the Miami band now has a simulator that can help them speed their development! Thanks for letting us know about this and do keep us informed about how things go along with it over time.

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