The Curse of the Bell

Photo courtesy of UNO Archives
The ghost of Durango stands atop the Campanile topping from October 1988. Durango hopes to warn students against debt.

Jessica Wade

Editor’s note: This story was part of our April Fool’s edition of the paper and is entirely satirical.

University of Nebraska Omaha freshman Lucy Luckless was optimistic about her first semester of college. As she made her way from Maverick Village to the Arts and Sciences Hall for her first day of classes, Luckless felt prepared to take on any challenges college could throw her way. Unfortunately, no one warned Luckless of the bell tower curse.

A bright and sunny day, Luckless appreciated the tunes drifting from the tower and she followed the bunches of people walking beneath it. Too busy appreciating the lovely campus, Luckless failed to notice that everyone else walked around emblem of a bell that lay in the center of the walkway.

As Luckless would later recount to The Gateway, the instant her sneakers made contact with the bell, clouds appeared out of nowhere, thunder could be heard in the distance and a cold wind made Luckless shiver. Those passing by stared in horror and gasped. The curse had claimed another freshman.

“I had no idea,” Luckless said. “A little warning would have been nice, now I have this curse thing to deal with…It’s a whole ordeal.”

Built in 1989, the Henningson Memorial Campanile, also known as the bell tower, is a staple to the UNO campus, and a landmark of the city itself. But the curse that befell Luckless has possibly been around much longer than the bell tower.

One theory is that a student attending UNO in 1942 was in the final semester of his undergraduate degree, and on the day of his finals he slept through his morning classes. The senior’s already hefty student debt took on a life of its own and cursed the ground where the bell emblem sits.

Another rumor states that the curse came to be after Durango heard the news that UNO’s football program was being cut. The story goes that he was standing exactly where the bell sits and his devastation cursed the spot he was standing.

No matter the origins of the curse, Luckless just wanted a way to break it.

Just hours after stepping on the emblem, strange things were happening. Luckless’ first class of the day was moved from ASH to the Weber Fine Arts Building, forcing her to run across campus in the rain that seemed to have come out of nowhere. She realized during her second class that she had purchased the wrong $200 textbook, and as she walked back to her dorm, a wild parking ticket glided with the wind and smacked her in the face.

So, with her freshman determination and optimism, Luckless set out to end the curse. She began her investigation with University Archives.

Located in the Criss Library, the Archives and Special Collections offers an extensive look into UNO’s past, as well as photos of the Henningson Memorial Campanile construction. It was while viewing one of these photos when Luckless made a startling discovery. There in the photo was Durango.

“It was the craziest thing,” Luckless told the Gateway. “He was just standing there among the construction, but when I pointed him out to another student, she couldn’t see him in the photo.”

Luckless came to the conclusion that only those who were cursed by the bell could see this vintage, possibly evil Durango.

So, Luckless set out to find the Durango of today. A guy with a busy schedule, Durango agreed to meet up with Luckless for coffee in Milo Bail.

“I emailed him and explained what was happening, and he agreed to meet with me right away,” Luckless said. “He said he had something important to tell me.”

Durango explained that the maverick in the photo may appear threatening, but the apparition doesn’t intend to hurt students.

“This ghost lives in the bell tower and has only one purpose—to warn students of student loan debt,” Durango said. “He just gets a bit carried away sometimes.”

According to Durango, the only way to break the curse is to meet with a financial aid advisor and, within the same day, jump backward over the bell three times.

“I did what he said, and my luck improved instantly,” Luckless said.

According to Luckless, and other freshman who have lived through the curse, on dark, quiet nights they can still hear this Durango apparition up in the bell tower: “Bewaaaree of student looooansss.”