1987: The Year We Stole the Bell

1987: The Year We Stole the Bell

Cheslea Fisher
eSomethin Staff

I had the chance to talk toKelly Carver: the man, the myth, the legend, that actually stole the “sacred” Maumee Perrysburg rivalry ding dong bell. He hasn’t told anyone the full story since it happened. “I’m pretty sure statute of limitations is up so you can use my name.” He said that he got the idea from a man he claimed he stole it in the fifties. eSomethin has yet to verify whether the man was telling the truth.

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An older picture of the ding dong bell in its rightful place

“A friend of mine who lived in Maumee who used to go to Perrysburg helped me do some reconnaissance. He told me that it was in their courtyard, chained up. We went on the roof several times in the middle of the night and then would run away and watch to see if police would show up. We were afraid that there might be alarms on the roof, but there weren’t. I got a group of about four guys together and then my girlfriend was driving an old truck with a trailer behind it and we were able to communicate with her through a walkie talkie.

“So we went up on top of the school with some ropes and some bolt cutters and pry bars and were able to cut the chains, lift the bell up, wheel it across the Maumee school lawn.  We had it up on a two piece snow mobile trailer and my girlfriend took it out of town right away, covered it up and took it out of town. We took it to my house. Here’s where the story gets kind of fun. I told my dad I was going to do this, he did not live with me at the time, and he said “Look, you really can’t trust anybody when you do something like this, even your best friends will break when the police start talking to them. Everybody will give everybody up.” So later that night my dad came and got it and he took it to Ottawa Hills to my grandma’s house, and there it stayed. I think it was some sort of holiday weekend, we didn’t have school that Monday, so right away on Tuesday morning got in the faces of the other guys that helped me and said ‘Where’s the bell? It’s not at my house. Only four of us know it was there.  Where is the bell?’ I just kind of went on the offensive with that.

An old graphic from 2006

A graphic advertising a Perrysburg victory from 2006

“Before the end of the day, the police had come to school and they pulled me out of class and they asked me all kinds of questions and I said “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t have it.” When I got home that day the Perrysburg Police were there and they wanted to search my house, since I knew the bell wasn’t there I told them to go ahead.   The police would follow me to work up in Monroe and they would call me every day telling me that I was going to jail, I guess that because it’s a historical item it can be considered grand theft. My dad kept telling me to keep my mouth shut, that they only knew what I told them. 

“About eight or ten days went by and I had been sneaking of to my grandma’s to paint it, it was all Maumee colors. I painted it Perrysburg colors. I wanted to drop it off at the flag pole and chain it to the flag pole for the last day of school. I finally confided in one friend, he wasn’t really involved in the whole bell stealing, he didn’t want to be directly involved, he was just there kind of watching us. He wouldn’t get up on the roof but he helped me. My dad brought it into town on a trailer under a cover. We ran up on the high school lawn, which is now your junior high, we put a great big chain around it and then we took off, didn’t take two minutes. So everybody got to come in the next day and celebrate and the bell was there. 

“I think before noon they already had it back in Maumee, but we got to snag it for those last ten days or so.Even after they had the bell back, they were harassing me about some sort of damage that’d been done on the roof. I don’t really remember that happening. When the cops were leaving, the assistant principal looked at me and just went ‘That was cool.’  It was just really neat to have the bell.”

The Perrysburg football team brings the Ding Dong Bell back to their locker room in 2015 after beating Maumee 55-26. THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

The Perrysburg football team brings the Ding Dong Bell back to their locker room in 2015 after beating Maumee 55-26. THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

He told me a story that followed this from a Thanksgiving in the early 90’s. “I’m at Thanksgiving dinner and there were several strangers sitting around the dinner table. My friend introduces me to the one gentleman as “Do you know who this guy is? This is the guy that stole the bell!” Well it turns out that this guy had been the principal of Maumee when when I stole the bell. That guy wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t look at me. My friend thought it was the funniest thing ever, but I was sitting next to this guy. I had a very uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner.” A Perrysburg hall of fame teacher even said that it was the best prank ever. 

Other stories by Chelsea Fisher on eSomethin:

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