Ding Dong: Door Bell History

When my mother's family pressed this my father told us to hide.
When my mother’s family pressed this my father told us to hide.

Do you always answer the door bell?

When my kids were young they took piano lessons at home. Their teacher was always late and never used the door bell. He’d just bound up the stairs, throw open our door and yell, “Honey, I’m home!” My husband wasn’t too fond of him.

Joseph Henry is largely forgotten in US history, but he not only was the first head of the Smithsonian Institution he also invented the precursor to the electric door bell. As with many great men of past times he grew up poor, but not mentally impoverished. His father died at a young age and so young Joe spent his childhood years with his dear old grandmother just outside of Albany, New York working in a general store.

He thought of becoming an actor in the theater but did so well at his studies at the Albany Academy (on scholarship) that even his teachers asked for help. Joe was “patient, kindly, self-controlled, and gently humorous.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Henry

And who doesn’t love a man responsible for that excited feeling you get when your date rings the door bell? Or the dread you experience when the great warning note announces the arrival of your weird cousins and their unicycle-clad mobile home come for an unexpected visit?

Door bell history

Pretty twist bells

 

14 thoughts on “Ding Dong: Door Bell History

  1. My aunt had a doorbell that was a little flange-like handle sticking out of a bell. All the older houses in town had them. You had to turn the flap around to to make the bell chime. It was then that I understood why they always said turn the bell rather than ring the bell.

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    • I love the twist ones, but when we were kids there was nothing better than playing Ding Dong Ditch with electric doorbells. One neighbor in particular hated it so of course that made it so much more fun. Eventually we were so brazen that we’d ring the bell and just run around his yard screaming and singing “Eddie’s weird, Eddie’s weird!” At some point much later he had a nervous breakdown.

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  2. One year, a week before Christmas, I was watching my favorite Danny Kaye movie, “Hans Christian Anderson.” The doorbell rang, and I, hoping it was the neighbors with cookies, answered the door only to find a woman who was promoting her Financial Planning business. Ugh. We had no finances to finally plan, and I just wanted to watch my movie. I’ll know for next time!

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      • There were a number of old wrecks that my husband had to pry me from. Rose-colored glasses are useful sometimes, but I really don’t have it in me to do a total restoration and my husband wouldn’t settle for anything less. lol.

        What’s your favorite part of having an older house?

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      • Someone has to be the voice of reason! 🙂

        I love all of the careful, thoughtful details: the moulding around the entry ways into each room; the curve of the staircase, as well as its intricate carvings; the original doorknobs on the closets; the two fireplaces.

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