Lesson: Old Timers Are Pretty Darn Smart
I can’t say for sure where the origin of the bell in the bar came from. I have heard several versions including the bell warding off evil spirits, sailors ringing the bell, and more. In mining towns, specifically gold rush towns, if you find gold you ring the bell and you buy the house a round to celebrate your good fortune.
I don’t think my friend knew that when he came up to Whitehorse, Yukon to attend my wedding. Originally a friend of my husband (the infamous Bill), I met him for the first time at our wedding. But since, he has become a friend and a great colleague. But that day of our wedding, he apparently did not know the significance of the bell in the bar.
Following our wedding celebration on the SS Klondike and at the National Park site where we had a nice event tent and jazz trio, our friend decided to frequent a historic bar in Whitehorse… the 98 Hotel. Now, the bar there is full of characters, most of them grizzled and it’s truly a slum of a bar. But if you are looking for something that is a real experience, you go to the 98 Hotel and you take it in.
So, my friend saddled up to the bar and ordered a drink only to be interrupted by a bearded old-timer who asked that the young man at the bar do him a favor. Always kind, my friend graciously offered to assist the elderly gentleman, just tell him how to help. And so, the hero from yesteryear explained to the nice young man, who clearly stood out as an outsider, that he was just too old and weak to ring the bell at the bar. Ringing this bell would of course let his friends know he was there and if this young man could be so kind, just ring the bell for him.
So, he did.
And the bar erupted in a great cheer.
He had bought a round. He was lucky, it was a small crowd.
But wait, it gets better.
During a geological gathering called a Rock Talk, one of my favorite geologists (the equally infamous Mike Burke) managed to convince a young geologist to go into a local pub in Dawson City, Yukon to let all the other geologists know to head to the BBQ.
“But”, his young and naïve friend asked, “how do I get the attention of 100 geologist in the bar?”
“Well,” Mike said, “you should ring the bell.”
Never was there a louder cheer heard in a Dawson bar since the Klondike Gold Rush…