As Mike Webb, president of the alumni association of the late, great Phillips High School, put it: "It just blew my mind." Hey, his mind wasn't the only one blown.
So was Robbie Bowling's, and his stepfather Mike Counts'. Add the mind of Pat Bush to the list and her son, Layne Moffitt. Throw in anyone else connected with the ghost town of Phillips and a long forgotten school victory bell. It's all just bizarre.
"Let me tell you, it's very bizarre," said Bowling.
The bizarreness began on Aug. 17 when Bowling, 39, left his home out in the country near Pullman Road southeast of the city. He took a different way into Amarillo because of recent rains. It was a route he hadn't made in at least two weeks.
Bowling passed some odd object, partially in the ditch and partially on the road. He backed up his GMC truck to take a better look. It was a bell, a big old worn orange-tinged bell on a trailer, abandoned like a baby on a doorstep. But on closer inspection it was not just any bell.
"As soon as I read 'Blackhawks' on it and saw the color, and being from the area, I knew exactly what it was," Bowling said.
What are the odds of a victory bell from a school that closed in 1987 sitting abandoned east of the city? Never mind that, what are the odds that the guy who found it - taking a different trip into town - would have a working knowledge of the long-gone town because his stepfather graduated from Phillips?
"Had I not known anything about Phillips, I'd blown on by it and kept going," Bowling said. "Having family gone to school there and the history behind it, I figured they'd want it back."
He took pictures of the bell with his cell phone and called Counts. After telling his stepfather he was serious, Counts made a few calls to those with Phillips connections. Bowling got a call from Webb, a 1964 Phillips graduate who lives in Borger.
This wasn't in the job description of alumni president, but Webb said he'd drive over that weekend to pick it up. In the meantime, Bowling hooked the bell and trailer and took it back to his home.
What was a mystery was where had it been and what was it doing there?
Webb got in touch with the First Family of the Phillips Bell. Back in the 1970s, Pat Bush came up the idea of a victory bell. As she said, everyone had a victory bell but Phillips. Pat solicited donations from businesses in Phillips and Borger. She bought the bell at an antique store. Phillips Petroleum Co. donated some material.
Mike Young, her brother, built it. He put a metal Blackhawk caricature on the front with a No. 81 on it, the number of his younger brother, Mark. They presented it to the school at the football season's first pep rally in 1976. It was splashed on the pages of the Borger News-Herald.
"That was about as big as it got in Phillips back then," Mike Young said.
When the school closed and the houses left Phillips 22 years ago, Pat took the bell with her to Bunavista, a Borger neighborhood. It stayed there until 2000 when she sold the house. Not knowing what to do with the bell, she then gave it to the third of four sons, Layne Moffitt. He played for Phillips and now lives in Bushland.
"I called Layne and asked if he knew where the bell was," Pat said. "He said, 'Yeah, I got it stored.' I said, 'I don't think so.'"
No, Moffitt was sure he did. He had a trailer, a ladder, some tools and that old bell in storage at W&H Trucking and Trailer on East 22nd Avenue.
"He said we got that booger out there. We got it stored," Pat said. "I said if you do, then what was it doing out on Pullman Road?"
Upon further investigation, Moffitt had been the victim of a theft. Most of his items were stolen. Apparently, the thieves couldn't very well pawn off a victory bell, so it's believed they just dumped the thing out in the country. That's where it stayed until Bowling drove past.
The bell will make its way to the heritage center in Stinnett where most of the Phillips memorabilia has found a home. It needs blasting and cleaning up - the bell, not the heritage center - and the clinger inside is missing. The wagon/chariot is too big for display, but there should be a rightful place for the bell and the Blackhawk. For his trouble and concern, Bowling received $100 from the alumni association, and the bell is back in familiar surroundings.
"It found its way home by hook or crook," Pat said.