After a century of travels, a bell returns to its roost

Photo by Daniel Jackovino Susan Doward, at left, holds up the bell which was recently returned to the church.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Brookdale Reformed Church was recently given a historic link to its past in the form of a small handbell.
According to Pastor Susan Doward, she received a phone call mid-October from a man in Dallas named Basil Asaro. He said he was 75 and had something he believed came from the church. It was a small bell which he would package and send. Arriving, it came with a card and a handwritten explanation.

Asaro said he grew up in Nutley. Sixty-five years ago, he was playing baseball on a field there, between Taft and Ackerman streets, when his toe kicked something up. Looking at it, whatever it was, it was encrusted with compacted soil. But it had a piece of metal protruding from it. Curious, he brought it home. When the object was cleaned up, what was discovered was a small brass bell. The metal that found sticking out before was its handle. And just above the lip of the bell, the area where the clapper strikes, in relief was printed: “Brookdale Reformed Church 1802-1910.” At the time, Asaro said he figured the church no longer existed because of the dates. In any event, he kept the bell.

Several years after finding it, he said his bedridden grandmother came to reside with his family. She was given the bell to ring if she needed anything.
Asaro said he had recently moved to Texas. While unpacking, he came across the bell. He went to the computer and discovered that the Brookdale Reformed Church still existed. He contacted Dorward.

The dates on the bell, Dorward said, were the dates when the church was built and when it was destroyed by fire. The congregates at that time, who had begun meeting in 1795 in a barn, decided to melt down the tower bell to make small handbells. These they would sell to raise funds for a new church building. This is what they did. In the card to Dorward, Asaro wrote that it was a nice surprise for him to find a good home for his bell.