In 1968, Lake Highlands High School senior Jerry Allen was a Bell Boy, an elected position reserved for four male seniors charged with protecting the iconic Lake Highlands Wildcats bell and strategically sounding the instrument during moments of football-season rally and celebration. When Allen, who served as our area’s city councilman for eight years, recounts his favorite memories, he glows.
“Back then, some of the games were in Gainesville, Corsicana, Mount Pleasant … some far-away little places. We rode in the back of a pickup with the bell, ringing it all the way, and it sometimes got really chilly back there,” he recalls. “But we’d ride through those little Texas towns on Friday nights before the game, ringing, and it would bring the whole town out of the woodwork. When the Wildcats came to town, they knew.”
“We’d ride through those little Texas towns on Friday nights before the game, ringing, and it would bring the whole town out of the woodwork. When the Wildcats came to town, they knew.”
The LHHS Bell Boys celebrated 50 years in 2013. Back in the ’60s, Allen says, Bell Boys were cool. They were leaders, and they stood out in a crowd.
“That goes on to this very day,” he says. “Their underlying job, besides the school spirit and enthusiasm, is representing Lake Highlands and upholding a strong tradition.”
Allen visits Lake Highlands High School each year on the day the Bell Boys are announced.
“The outgoing Bell Boys will go get the new ones out of class and bring them to the principal’s office, and I am there to welcome them to the brotherhood,” he says.
He’s also there to offer a little guidance.
“When I was there, there wasn’t Twitter and cell-phone videos,” Allen says. “These days a young person in a leadership role faces a tougher situation. These are great kids, but everyone needs a mentor.”
Like Allen, numerous Bell Boys past have seen success but still maintain a sense of pride in Lake Highlands. Jerry touches a recent photo of himself and big-time real-estate developer Jeff Swope at a Lake Highlands High School homecoming game.
“We rode together in that pickup bed back then,” Allen says, pointing to Swope. “Look at that look on his face.” (Allen nods at the suggestion that Swope indeed looks proud and happy). Still eyeballing the snapshot, he continues. “It had been years, but the instant I put my hand on that bell, it was like hopping on your childhood bike. You just jump on and ride, and it sends that current of memory right through you.”
Originally published in September 2013.