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August, 2002

Report and Photos by Stephen A. Waters

No, we’re not talking about the new peal of 12 at Croydon. "Deep South" for the College Youths in this context means a peal tour in the American southern states of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. With John Owen being based in the States, together with Rick Dirksen, Roger Savory, John Mabe and Eddie Futcher, and the rest of us in the UK, it was probably one of the first of such trips organised entirely by e-mail. It is also believed to be the first 100% CY peal tour in the USA. The writer, amongst others, has been to the USA on previous peal tours (as opposed to weekend peals/grabs), but there have always been peals rung for other associations as well, so this tour was not before its time.

Tours like ours generally start when most of you meet at the same airport at the same time for the same flight. Not this one! I think all of us, including the Stateside ringers, arrived at our starting point in Marietta, Georgia on 16th August at different times from different places, with Roger, John Mabe and Eddie joining us later. For example: Jim and Val Clatworthy from Vancouver, via New York, John Jelley came in via Toronto, and Andrew Wilby and Barbara Foster via New Orleans. This was partly because several of the ringers had independently decided to do some visiting and sightseeing before the peal tour started. The UK contingent, together with John and Rick, actually got together for the first time, by coincidence at the same restaurant, with the late arrival of Derek Thomas, Michele Ellender and David Potter after a hard day’s touring. Great minds think alike where food and drink is concerned. Unfortunately, this was an alcohol free eatery (aargh!), which was on reflection, probably useful, as we had two peal attempts the following day.

St.James’s, Marietta on Saturday 17th August saw the first successful peal (Cambridge Major), conducted by Andrew, who chose an unusual composition just to keep everyone on their toes. As Jim said with a slight Welsh lilt "Why does he do it?" A short drive after lunch took us to St. Luke’s Atlanta, where we were joined in her first guest appearance by Steph Warboys for Yorkshire Royal, conducted by Jim. Steph rang the treble, and started the attempt with the unforgettable "Look to, treble’s going, where’s my handbag?" (as you do!). The cold drinks afterwards were very welcome, but the mosquito bites weren’t. However, they apparently found David Potter very tasty - well something has to. The evening celebrations took us to an Australian theme restaurant called The Outback Steakhouse where by an amazing coincidence, our waitress had actually tried ringing at Tollesbury, Essex some years before.

Sunday was the first of the long drives, this one from Marietta to Asheville near the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, ready for the next peal attempt at St. James’s, Hendersonville, North Carolina. We were met here by Richard Parsons, who waved at us and we waved back, then he disappeared for over half an hour! Finally Richard returned, and we could start the peal of Lincolnshire Major, conducted by John Jelley. This was going quite well for the first two hours until David’s tenor rope became untucked, and then almost immediately, one of the strands broke. Never fear, Potter was the man for the job, ringing handstrokes with the right hand and backstrokes with the left hand, he saved the day, and of course, the peal. This was the first of several peals where Steve Waters wore his prescription sunglasses, which meant the rest of the band couldn’t see the panic in his eyes when he went wrong, which fortunately was not very often. That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

Monday was a rest day, spent driving to Roaring Gap, and staying near John and Ina Owen’s weekend retreat at Olde Beau. Here, some of their friends joined us, and we were superbly fed and watered, whilst watching the sunset over an immaculately laid out golf course, where John plays some of his golf when he’s not ringing.

Tuesday was another rest day, which allowed us to do our own thing. This saw Andrew and Barbara bouncing-off like a pair of Tiggers (not my description) towards the canoe centre down by the river, where Andrew wanted to show Barbara his Eskimo-roll. Fortunately (unfortunately?), the water level was too low, so like the rest of us, sightseeing/shopping became the order of the day. Some of us did part of the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Roanoke, where we came across that well-known tourist attraction called "Cumberland Knob" (believe me, it’s true).

The evening saw us driving to Bob and Ann Taylor’s house in the mountains. Bob and Ann are friends of John and Ina, who had joined us the previous day, and very kindly invited us to join them for some wonderful "Southern hospitality". The sight of humming birds feeding, and hearing the din of the tree frogs was unforgettable. John Owen had brought his handbells, on which he, Jim, Andrew and John Jelley rang a touch of Plain Bob Major.

This was to mark the centenary of two handbell peals rung on 17th August 1902 by the CYs at Fulham. As an historical note, one of the ringers was Margaret Nichols, later Margaret Shurcliff, who was afterwards presented with a set of musical handbells, which she took back to the USA. She later went on to play a leading role in the establishment of handbell (tune) ringing in a big way in the USA, and eventually (in 1954) the formation of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers.

Wednesday took us to Winston Salem as the final part of our sightseeing/cultural trip. Most of us went to the Moravian town of Old Salem, meeting at the Old Salem Tavern for lunch. It was at Oak Valley just outside Winston Salem that, in the evening, we had more "Southern hospitality" at John and Ina’s main residence, where everyone again appreciated Ina’s superb culinary skills. The piano proved too tempting for David and Andrew, who just had to show off their playing skills, much to the amusement of the rest of us. It was after this that we tried to switch-off Andrew’s one-way C120 cassette (read/write CD to the younger generation), or at least ‘fast-forward’ it, but you know Wilby, when he’s in ‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish’ mode, you can’t turn him off. Thank goodness David didn’t start playing his harmonica. ‘Marching through Georgia’ gets a bit boring after the 50th rendition, as John Jelley, Derek and Michele found out earlier in the tour, when giving David a lift. As John remarked after a particularly excruciating performance ‘you know when you’ve been Potterised’, (apologies to the makers of Tango).

Thursday, 22nd August took us back to the real purpose of the trip, with a drive to Christ Church, Raleigh, where we were met by John Mabe. He joined us for a peal of Bristol Major conducted by John Jelley. This was followed by a visit to a home brew establishment called Greenshields (which up until then, we all thought was something to do with stamps!). Not too much to drink here though, as we had a 270 mile drive to our final destination – Charleston, South Carolina. Some tried to make the practice at St. Michael’s, but the distance proved too much, so we settled for the evening at another Outback restaurant.

Friday found us at Charleston Cathedral for an 8.00.a.m. start. This was due to no air-conditioning being installed as yet, and a predicted outside temperature of 95°F. It certainly made Derek perspire on the tenor. By chance, it was the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, the worst hurricane in America’s history. Our own Andrew was in equally devastating form, calling Yorkshire Major successfully. This was rung as a 40th birthday compliment to Barbara, and in the evening we all went off to the Trawler Restaurant on Sullivan’s Island to celebrate. The servings were huge. So much in fact, that for dessert, Steve Waters could only manage an ice cream, instead of the aptly named ‘Mud Pie’. However, some with larger appetites had Crème Brulee.

Saturday, and sadly for the writer, the last day of the tour, as it was Jane’s birthday (left at home in the U.K.) on 26th August – enough said. This was when, unfortunately, we had our only loss, at Stella Maris in the morning after 1hr.40min. of some very acceptable ringing of Rutland Major. It was 103°F outside, and this was a factor in the failure. It was one of the hottest Augusts on record, and the fans in the tower couldn’t cope with the heat, which in turn, led to some brains overheating. An early lunch in the Irish pub "Dunleavy’s", just up the road, was our only consolation.

St. Michael’s, Charleston in the afternoon, and there was a grim determination in the band to score a good peal on this historic ring. Michele was pleased not to be in the peal attempt, as she had been visited by some of David’s mosquito friends. Eddie joined us, having just flown in from Boston, and much to everyone’s relief, we scored a very well struck peal of Bristol Major, conducted by Jim. This was the first peal with the new sound control in operation, which was necessitated by one local resident who frequently complained about the ringing. However, those who were listening outside said that the bells were hardly audible, proving that the St. Michael’s ringers had done an excellent job. Hopefully, there will be no more complaints, and plenty more peals. Hospitality this time at the very kind invitation of "C.J." Cantwell, tower captain of St. Michael’s, who invited us back to her wonderful old home very close to the church, built in 1740. Here the food and drink flowed, and we had the opportunity to meet and socialise with some of the other ringers in Charleston.

On Sunday, the remaining ringers rang for service at St. Michael’s, and then went for a horse-drawn tour of Charleston in temperatures approaching 100°F.

The final peal took place on the augmented Warner ring, in the detached tower at Grace Church, Charleston, where John Jelley conducted a peal of Cambridge Royal. This included the second and last guest appearance by Steph ‘handbag’ Warboys. The peal followed after-service ringing, and the dedication of two benches in the church garden.

The tower is actually a ‘columbarium’, where for US$2,400 you can have your own or your relative’s ashes (in an urn), placed in a niche, together with an appropriate plaque.

So the tour ended on a high note. We had rung 7 peals out of 8 attempts, enjoyed some excellent company, food and drink, with quite a few laughs thrown in for good measure. It was just left for most of us to make the 320 mile car journey back to Atlanta Airport, and the flight back to the UK.

All it needs now is for a few words of appreciation. Firstly, to John Owen for the way in which he brought us all together, and provided so much information in his tour guide. We would have been lost without his organisation, inspiration, and leadership. Unfortunately, this is tinged with a touch of sadness, because the UK side of the tour was to have been organised by Pat Bird, but as we all know, Pat died in October last year. So John picked up the mantle of tour organiser overall, and carried on by himself but for some interference from Jim and Andrew. However, it seems appropriate that we should link this tour with remembrance of Pat, and his contribution to ringing.

Secondly, to the friendship, warmth and hospitality shown by everyone we met, especially the non-ringers. It was great to meet you.

Finally, to the ringers we met in all the towers we visited. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to attempt the peals. I know that John had quite a lot of negotiating to do, in order to create a workable timetable, so the flexibility when making the arrangements is greatly appreciated. I think we’re going to come back again soon, and ring a few more CY peals.

Click on image to enlarge

Ringing handbells at Bob and Ann Taylor’s weekend retreat. Jim Clatworthy, John Owen, Andrew Wilby and John Jelley Dinner at the Outback Restaurant. Michele Ellender, Derek Thomas, Rick Dirksen, Andrew Wilby, Barbara Foster, David Potter, John Owen, John Jelley, Val Clatworthy, Steve Waters, Jim Clatworthy
John Owen – tour organiser, with Val Clatworthy
Steve Waters and David Potter admire a well known tourist attraction on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hendersonville. Front: John Jelley (4), John Owen (3), Barbara Foster (2), Steve Waters (1). Back: Michele Ellender (5), Andrew Wilby (6), Derek Thomas (7), David Potter (8). Raleigh. Michele Ellender (1), Barbara Foster (5), Steve Waters (2), David Potter (6), John Mabe (3), Derek Thomas (7), John Jelley (4), Andrew Wilby (8).
Charleston Cathedral. Front: Barbara Foster (3), Steve Waters (7), Michele Ellender (2), John Jelley (5). Back: Andrew Wilby (1), David Potter (6), Roger Savory (4), Derek Thomas (8).
Charleston, St. Michael’s. Front: John Owen (4), John Jelley (3), Eddie Futcher (2), David Potter (1). Back: Steve Waters (5), Derek Thomas (6), Jim Clatworthy (7), Andrew Wilby (8). Barbara Foster’s 40th birthday bash at the Trawler Restaurant on Sullivan’s Island.

At the Church of St James
On Sat Aug 17 2002 in 2 hours 37 minutes
Tenor: 5 cwt
5088 Cambridge S Major
Composed by Christopher Forster

1 David E Potter
2 Michele Ellender
3 John M Jelley
4 Barbara A Foster
5 John Owen
6 Richard S Dirksen
7 Derek J Thomas
8 Andrew W R Wilby

Conducted by Andrew W R Wilby

At the Church of St Luke
On Sat Aug 17 2002 in 2 hours 56 minutes
Tenor: 13 cwt
5040 Yorkshire S Royal
Composed by James Clatworthy

1 Stephanie J Warboys
2 John M Jelley
3 Michele Ellender
4 Barbara A Foster
5 Stephen A Waters
6 Andrew W R Wilby
7 Richard S Dirksen
8 James Clatworthy
9 David E Potter
10 Derek J Thomas

Conducted by James Clatworthy


At the Church of St.James
On Sun Aug 18 2002 in 2 hours 33 minutes
Tenor: 9-0-24 in A
5056 Lincolnshire S Major
Composed by John M Jelley

1 Stephen A Waters
2 Barbara A Foster
3 John Owen
4 John M Jelley
5 Michele Ellender
6 Andrew W R Wilby
7 Derek J Thomas
8 David E Potter

Conducted by John M Jelley

At Christ Church
On Thur Aug 22 2002 in 2 hours 28 minutes
Tenor: 4-1-9 in C
5024 Bristol S Major
Composed by Stephen J Ivin

1 Michele Ellender
2 Stephen A Waters
3 John I Mabe
4 John M Jelley
5 Barbara A Foster
6 David E Potter
7 Derek J Thomas
8 Andrew W R Wilby

Conducted by John M Jelley

At the Cathedral
On Fri Aug 23 2002 in 2 hours 57 minutes
Tenor: 14 cwt
5152 Yorkshire S Major
Composed by Christopher P Starbuck

1 Andrew W R Wilby
2 Michele Ellender
3 Barbara A Foster
4 R Roger Savory
5 John M Jelley
6 David E Potter
7 Stephen A Waters
8 Derek J Thomas

Conducted by Andrew W R Wilby

40th birthday compliment to Barbara Foster.

At the Church of St Michael
On Sat Aug 24 2002 in 3 hours 15 minutes
Tenor: 17-1-11 in E flat
5120 Bristol S Major
Composed by David W Beard

1 David E Potter
2 Edward J Futcher
3 John M Jelley
4 John Owen
5 Stephen A Waters
6 Derek J Thomas
7 James Clatworthy
8 Andrew W R Wilby

Composed by James Clatworthy

At Grace Church
On Sun Aug 25 2002 in 3 hours 3 minutes
Tenor: 17 cwt
5040 Cambridge S Royal
Composed by James Clatworthy

1 Barbara A Foster
2 Stephanie J Warboys
3 Michele Ellender
4 John M Jelley
5 John Owen
6 David E Potter
7 Derek J Thomas
8 James Clatworthy
9 Edward J Futcher
10 Andrew W R Wilby

Conducted by John M Jelley

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