Vol. 3 of Baked Beans has a section near the back about the Japanese Temple Bell. I’ve seen it in the Emerald Necklace string of parks in Boston – it is in the Back Bay Fens, right across the street from the back of the Museum of Fine Arts. It is a beautiful bell, whose nearly half a millenium history includes escaping meltdown by the IJN to be used for artillery casings, a boat ride to San Francisco, a train ride to Boston, being on display for years in the Common / Public Gardens, and a late night roll down back streets in Boston by thieves wanting to sell it for scrap.
I had lots of great stuff about the bell when the Baked Beans books were published, but I was missing a critical piece. There were newspaper accounts of the bell’s journey by train en route to being presented to the city on behalf of the crew of the USS Boston (by her former skipper, Capt. M.R. Kelley [no relation]. There was collaboration by plankowners Bob Knight and Pat Fedele that the bell had been lowered into the “gooney bird” hangar in the rear of the ship. But there was no “proof”.
As I mentioned in my last post, Robin Tougas and his brothers had exactly what the doctor ordered. It was in among dozens of pictures in a trunk of their dad’s Navy stuff (Roland Tougas) and I spotted it when Robin posted a bunch of pictures of his dad on the CA-69 Facebook page.
When I first got the picture from Robin, I reached out to our friend Lola Heiler at the Emerald Conservancy. She responded, after she caught her breath, by forwarding these pictures of the installation of the restored Temple Bell (the email thread includes Rika Smith McNally (the bell’s restorer) and Paul Craeger (documentary director about the Temple Bell(s) journey to America). I have the email originator’s [Rika McNally] permission to share the photos. (Permission from Robin and his brothers as well.)
The restored bell (after it was recovered by Boston Police on it’s way to a scrap yard) was installed in its current location on Nov. 15, 2006.