For Whom the Bell Tolls

Wendell WhiteThis recollection by Dr. Wendell White ’05 of Los Angeles was submitted to the Wheaton College Alumni Magazine (Feb. 1958) for a feature called “We Asked for Good Old Stories.”

I had returned to Wheaton a week before the school semester commenced. I was downtown in the stores and a Western Union agent got the word and came across the street and told us the startling and tragic news that President McKinley had been assassinated. I jumped on my bicycle and rode up to the college building and over to the Tower as fast as I could make it. I climbed up to where I could reach the bell rope and rang the bell and kept on ringing it. Then to keep anyone from stopping me, I climbed up above the trap door pulling the rope with me and kept on ringing where no one could get to me.

First I saw professor Fischer coming over in his old one horse buggy with his gray horse. Then Professor Whipple came waddling over from the dormitory where they were staying. Soon Professor Straw and Professor Mullenix came. Many people came to the Tower and they tried to stop me from ringing the bell but I only climbed up farther where they couldn’t get through. The trap door was not only closed under my feet but I had to pull a big timber over it. After I had tolled the bell for a long time, I climbed down to where the crowd was waiting to get their hands on me. The moment I saw them I said, “Didn’t you know that the President of the United States has been shot?” And everyone left without a word.

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