Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bells And Whistles . . .

. . . Do You Hear Them Anymore?

When I was growing up in Massachusetts, it was in an era when I heard every day the whistle from the Whittenton Mill, the bells from a half dozen churches, from fire engines and from the belfry of numerous schools.

I also miss the whistles from passing trains and from fire stations, calling volunteers out to help save someone's house from flames.

That Whittenton Mill whistle, and the ones from other silver manufacturig businesses of my city, Reed and Barton, F. B. Rogers and Poole Silver Company, woke people in the morning, signaled the time for them to be at work, noon time breaks, and quitting time.

Those whistles and bells heard at nine o'clock in the night, signaled curfew for young people. Bells were prominent for signaling the locations of fires, with so-called fire alarm boxes in many locations.

These boxes when opened and a hook pulled by a citizen, roused firemen and horses which then pulled fire apparatus to the general area of a fire as indicated by the number of bells that rang.

Passenger trains zooming from Boston to New York on the tracks, not far from my home, made melodic sounds as they came through the pine woods, clickity-clacking their ways through the city.

There are few such sounds anymore but there is a growing movement to put bells back on the churches, bells which as in long past days, called people to worship in the edifices of their chosen religions.

I would welcome hearing the cacaphony of bells ringing in chorus all through the city. Such sounds might drown out the roar of pickup trucks, ccar and motocycles whose drivers never give any thought to installing mufflers on their vehiclest o protect their ears and mine.

Train whistles are things of the past, replaced, where there are trains, by harsh growls, rasps or squeals which also damage the ears of listeners, particularly those of senior citizens like me.

Also mssing are whistles that greeted pretty girls on the corners of the country's many Main Streets and Broadways, the pasttime of young men all around the world.

Yes, I miss all those sounds and admit it, you who remember them, you miss them too.

- 30 -
Old Newsie


  1. If you really miss train whistles that much get yourself an RV and camp at almost any RV park along I 10 from New Mexico to California! The inviting line of trees near the back aren't there for shade, they are to mask the fact that the train will be sounding off at 3 AM!

  2. How about parking the RV in front of a pecan processing plant, not knowing it was there. Interesting sounds in the middle of the night.