Hourly chimes charm some, irritate others
By AMY BETH PREISS
JEWETT CITY -- There is a reason many borough residents hum "America the Beautiful," all day long.
Many may have an abiding pride in their country, but more likely it's because the song plays from the carillon in the Jewett City Baptist Church steeple on Main Street every morning.
"Some people do hate them," borough resident Richard Rogers of the chimes. "It's cool though. You don't hear that many other places. I always hum the songs."
Rogers, who has lived behind Charlene's Diner for two years, said he often wakes up by the chimes. He said he has become so accustomed to hearing "America the Beautiful" every morning, he made up his own words for the song. But he declined to share them.
And to give Francis Scott Key equal time, the carillon plays the national anthem around 8 every evening. It may be a few minutes before or a few minutes after. The timing isn't exact. But most borough residents hear the strains of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the background as they settle down to watch television.
The chimes come from speakers placed in the church belltower. The speakers are hooked up to a timer that resembles an old stereo. The songs are pre-recorded for the carillon.
The carillon plays a different song -- nearly all patriotic -- every hour on the hour, or close to it, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
"It's better than hearing the fire siren," Rogers said. "Everybody should be up anyway during that time."
Other selections include "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again," and "God Bless America." The songs are changed seasonally. At Christmas, the repertoire ranges from "Jingle Bells" to "Silent Night."
Kim Brennan-Morin of Lisbon said she loves the bells, especially at Christmas.
"It creates an old fashioned setting," she said. "It's something you don't hear enough of."
In the mid 1990s, town officials wanted to learn how to enhance economic development in the borough to make it thrive. They established the Jewett City Downtown Council to address the goal. Officials had the National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C., conducted a study of the borough.
The idea for the carillon germinated and the borough and town each contributed $3,000 toward its purchase.
The machine also allows officials to communicate with residents during an emergency.
The chimes have become so much a part of the borough that most people hear the music without actually paying attention to what is playing.
"I personally can't name any of the songs," Borough Warden Cynthia Kata said. "You just kind of go 'hmm, hmm, hmm."
Selectwoman Virginia Hoddy, a former member of the downtown council who also serves as borough tax collector and secretary, said the songs make it pleasant for downtown shoppers.
"It sounds so umm... unique, quaint, New Englandish," Hoddy said. "Actually, a lot of people hate it and say, 'Do I have to listen to this every hour?' "
Even though the chimes create a "small hometown atmosphere," according to Alan Geer, some people have complained they cannot carry on a conversation in front of the church when the chimes are playing. Geer is a former member of the Board of Burgesses, another group that helped bring the carillon to town.
And the chimes may be getting a new home.
Officials said they are considering moving the device to the new Town Hall, just a few feet down the road to make it more accessible to town employees. There are also plans to train more people to operate the machine because only two people known how to run it right now.
With more people able to run the carillon, the roster of songs may change more often.
"If it's working, don't fix it," said resident Bill Czymr of the possible move. "The steeple is what makes the sound flow and the church is really the center of town."
When Kathy Flanagan heard the word chimes, however, she positioned her arms as if she were holding a gun and yelled "Bazooka."
"It's not that I'm not patriotic," she said. "But sometimes you just want to scream."
Flanagan can't escape the chimes. She lives next door to the church and works as a waitress at Charlene's Diner across the street.
"I like it, but come Christmas time, honey, I hear "We Three Kings," until May," she said. "I look out my window sometimes and I think I have a clear shot, no one will know.
"Between the air-conditioners at the theater and the bells, I am not a happy camper in the summer," she said.
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06-26-2004, 10:06 PM #1
Hehehe...And people complain about firehouse sirens?IACOJ Canine Officer
06-26-2004, 10:08 PM #2
Why do I have a vision of a fire company somewhere replacing their siren with a carillon...and coding different songs to different calls???IACOJ Canine Officer
06-27-2004, 06:38 PM #3
I think it would be neat to have it playing, but it would get old after hearing the songs over and over again and as often as they are.......
06-28-2004, 02:06 PM #4
06-28-2004, 02:39 PM #5
Would "Burning down the house" be an appropriate song?"This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
06-28-2004, 04:01 PM #6
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On a slightly different "note"... (ya ok...) Victoria has carillon player too. It chimes at the 1/4 hr during daylight hours (as far as I know - I haven't been downtown after dark in a really long time). However, other than a couple of hotel/motels near by, there are no residents in the area, so the tower remains a unique part of the Victoria landscape.
** Gee did that sound like it came out of a travel/tourist brochure?**If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
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