This is Jean McMillen interviewing Mary Davidson at my home 41 Chatfield Drive, Lakeville, Ct. The date is May 17, 2012.
JM:May I have your full name?
JM:And you were born?
MD:In Ottowa/ Oxford, Ohio (She was born in Ottowa and three days later was moved to Oxford where she grew up.)
JM:Birth date or month and day?
JM:Your parents’ names?
MD:Mary and Dutch (Mary Frey and Alphonse Adam who was always called Dutch.)
JM:do you have any siblings?
MD:I have one living sibling and three who are no longer living. (Two brothers and two sisters).
JM:How did you come to this area?
MD:My husband started a business here. (Agrownautics: food grown without soil) See tape 145A for details.
JM:When did you husband start this business?
MD:In 1975 or 1976.
JM:What was the name of this business?
JM:I am going to skip over that because on the other side of your tape I have a complete interview. (done by Geoffrey Drury who was one of the founders of the business) I am going to ask you about the history of your Bell choir.
JM:Where do you do your bell choir rehearsals?
MD:Salisbury Congregational church.
JM:What do you do in preparation for your concerts?
MD: Well, there is a lot of rehearsing; there is a lot of set up for the concerts, there is set up for rehearsing, we use tables, we use foam for the bells, we have covers for the foam, we have risers for the notebooks so we can see the music better, and then we have a lot of equipment.
JM;When did the bell choir start?
MD: the fall of1976.
JM:Did you have bells donated or did you buy your own bells?
MD:We had bells that had been loaned to the minister at the time who was John Haye. He summered on Mt. Washington; he was the minister of the community church up there during August, and one of his parishioners loaned him the bells for the year. He asked if we would like to start a bell choir.
JM:Can you describe what a hand bell looks like?
MD:It looks like an ordinary bell, except on the inside of it the clapper had a retaining device so it won’t just ring freely. You actually have to use your wrist to make the bell sound.
JM:Why do your people wear gloves?
MD:Because any of the moisture that is on your hands can affect the tune of the bell, the tone of the bell.
JM:Do you still have that same set of bell or have you added more bells?
MD:We have added many more bells; in fact the set that we used on load was returned to its owner. The church purchased their own three octave set and then has gradually added to it so that now we have five and one half octaves of hand bells, and we have four octaves of hand chimes.
JM:What do the chimes look like?
MD:The chime almost looks like a piece of PCV pipe with a clapper on it. It is a straight thing, some are 6 inches long, and some are almost 36 inches long.
JM:How many members do you have in your choir now?
MD:We have eleven.
JM:Is that more or fewer that what you started with?
MD:We usually have around eleven to cover the number of bells that we have. This particular year we have run the age span from 14 to 89.
JM:That’s a good span. What are some of the events that the bell choir participates in?3.
MD:Number one is we play the prelude to the service, we also accompany the choir, we can play during the service, and those are the regular church services. We have played for memorial services; we give concerts at places that invite us to come play, most notably Geer Village, Noble Horizons, other churches.
JM;How long do your rehearsals last?
MD:About an hour and fifteen minutes.
JM:And you have a fairly consistent number of people that practice?
JM:Do you practice weekly or…?
MD:Yes, we practice weekly from the end of September until the end of May. Then can gather ourselves for any special events during the summer like a wedding or a memorial service, or something that comes up where the bells are wanted.
JM:Now you as the Director of the Bell Choir are you a paid position or is this all volunteer?
MD:It started as volunteer; it is currently paid.
JM:What are some of the community activities that you participate in that has nothing to do with the bell choir?
MD: I was on the Board of Education for Salisbury Central School for a number of years, Chairman for about 10 of those years. I was on the Regional Services Board. I have been many years ago on the library board. I was Chairman of the Housatonic Day Care Center Board many years ago, church activities other than bells.
JM:You keep very busy. Is there anything that you would like to add about the bell choir or the community before we close?
MD:Well, I would say that the bell choir is like a microcosm of the community; it’s people who really like to do what they are doing and make every effort to always be at rehearsals. We enjoy each other even though we come from very different parts of the community and ages.
JM:Gifted and varied
JM:Thank you very much.