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In everyone's life there is one person, one event, or one experience that affects who they become, the road they take. For hundreds of people in Central New York that person was Miss Parsons; that experience was their days at Cherry Road School. The Brass Bell tells the story of Marion Parsons' life, of the school she started in a hen house in the cherry orchard, of the hundreds, who decades later, still get together to talk about their Miss Parsons and their memorable times at Cherry Road School.
The book's author--Camille Cole--is the great niece of Marion Parsons. To her, Marion was a beloved great aunt, but more like a grandmother. Throughout her childhood she was enraptured by stories of the Olden Days told to her out of Aunt Marion's "think." She would go to her and plead, "Tell me a story out of your think," and Marion would begin, "Jack hitched up the horse and buggy..." She recounts these stories in vivid detail in The Brass Bell. She weaves a creative non-fiction account of a young woman who chose duty over desire, who returned home to fulfill her father's wishes to turn the struggling farm into a modern-day community with a school at its heart. She tells the story of a woman who seemingly gave up everything, but realized her dreams in ways she could never have imagined as a young woman leaving home, and again as she returned to build a school.
Cole took liberties to create a story based on her aunt's journal and letters, from the many stories shared by those who were there during rough days of The Great Depression, during the frightening days of World War II, and finally when cornfields were replaced with roads and houses and a red-brick school.
Camille Cole is a retired educator and the author of two books for teachers.