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   time tracks That curfew bell

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down the corridor


or almost 20 years, an old copper-toned bell has sat silently in the University Union. But for nearly 100 years, that bell was a way of life for North Texas students.

The bell, made by the Grand Rapid School Furniture Co., came to campus in 1891. It hung in the old Normal Building where its chimes began and ended classes and directed students to their boarding houses for the 7 p.m. curfew.

The bell remained there until 1906, when an architect deemed it too heavy for the building’s construction. The 1,000-pound bell was moved to the Power Plant — a good thing, since lightning struck the Normal Building the following year and it burned to the ground.

While on the Power Plant roof, the bell continued its regular schedule, but easy access made it a perfect target for pranks. Each April Fools’ Day, a student would climb up to remove the bell’s clapper and hide it. The clapper once disappeared for two years. After business manager J.W. Smith offered a reward, it reappeared and Smith had it welded into place.

On Nov. 11, 1918, the bell rang all day and all night to celebrate the signing of the Armistice, declaring the end of World War I.

People ringing bell
Talons members ring the spirit bell (former curfew bell) in 1968.

In 1961, the Talons removed the bell from the Power Plant and used it as a spirit bell. They rang it after athletic victories and for special events. It also traveled with the group for road games, where it again became a target for pranks. During a game against the University of Texas in the late 1960s, UT fans stole the bell, painted it orange and white and chained it to a pole. Luckily, the Talons were able to recover it and restore its copper hue.

In 1982 — 91 years after it first arrived in Denton — the Talons retired the bell to the permanent display in the University Union. Chimes in the Administration Building mark the passing of time today, but they are not the essential part of campus life that the now-silent old bell once was.




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