18th Annual Philadelphia Quarter Peal Weekend, January 15-18, 2010
North American ringers from far and wide gathered in Philadelphia January 15-18, 2010 to participate in the 18th annual Philadelphia Quarter Peal weekend. Bruce Butler, our intrepid organizer, greeted us with a cryptic spreadsheet with G7s, C8s, PB5s, ts, Ts, and the like, that somehow managed to incorporate all our quarter peal hopes, desires and last-minute changes into a schedule. It all became clearer after a couple beers.
We set to on Saturday morning at both St. Martin’s and St. Mark’s. We scored three quarters of Mixed Doubles, two of Plain Bob Triples, and one of Grandsire Doubles at St. Martin in the Fields and Cambridge Surprise Major at St. Mark’s. Local Philadelphia ringers achieved a couple firsts: John Torrey rang his first quarter peal and Winston Moody rang his first quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles.
Saturday night was the pinnacle of the event. Several kegs of the excellent local brew, Flying Fish ESB, were downed in celebration – or commiseration. We feasted on roast beef with cheese, grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms -- with turkey for those who foolish enough to prefer it to the beef. Not being from Philadelphia myself, I mistook this ambrosia* for an upscale rendition of the famous Philly cheesesteak, but was duly corrected that, in reality, it was a hot beef sandwich. I had a second helping to make sure I understood the distinction. We drank late into the evening – while waiting for Alex Taft to finish his piece of homemade, 18th anniversary, cake.
Torrential rain greeted us on Sunday morning. Although a few of us were under the weather independent of the rain, we scored quarters of six-method doubles, Grandsire Triples and Plain Bob Major at St. Mark’s before heading out to Chestnut Hill. Those brave enough to venture to New Castle, Delaware to ring for a wedding were not so lucky. At St. Martin in the Fields there were further quarters of Plain Bob Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Stedman Triples and Plain Bob Major. In the course of the day, two ringers rang their first Quarter Peals inside: Charleston ringer Roy Smith rang Plain Bob Doubles, conducted by his son Noah, and Lian von Wantoch, from Washington, DC, rang Plain Bob Minor – which was also conductor Bruce Butler’s 400th quarter peal in a Philadelphia tower. Rick DuPuy, another member of the Washington contingent, rang his first quarter of Stedman Triples. While we were all ringing, Candie Querbach, who has yet to succumb to ringing, arranged a Chinese banquet and Brian Zook a conflagration in the fireplace. The evening culminated with the annual reading of the fortune cookies – in bed.
Monday dawned bright again and the remaining hardy ringers met for a third day of ringing and an attempt to eat all the leftovers. The food won over the ringing. We got a quarter of Plain Bob Doubles, but that was all. We learned after the fact that Eileen Butler would have rung her 500th quarter peal that day – if only we had succeeded. It looks like the Butlers will need to organize another excellent event to celebrate that milestone!
*Polysyllabic words in this article brought to you by the ringer who decided to bring along a copy of Tom Robbins’ Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates for light reading.