By Frank J. Buchman
“Five working days a week, the town whistle blows at noon and again at 6 o’clock.”
City slickers are alarmed by the loud shrill questioning: “What’s that?”
Not too many communities regularly sound announcement it’s “dinnertime” and when to officially “stop working.”
Fortunately, the hometown these days continues the practice, although there is occasional malfunction.
Few realize the whistle absence, but there’s typical small town folk uprising when the buzzer continues screeching for extended time.
Rural town visitors always comment about the twice-a-day whistles, yet sirens are common place in the state’s capitol city. There are also loud chimes that city churches regularly toll, certain days, specific times.
Some country churches still faithfully, thankfully, continue ringing the church bell, or semblance thereof, at Sunday starting time.
Even when there are real bells with truly beautiful melody, they don’t ring when electricity’s off or timer’s caput. That’s not a problem when the deacon, pastor or church board member pulls the bell rope.
Mid-last-century, Mr. Fisher, the Garfield Grade School principal, came out the front door every school day morning at 8:15. With copper-colored bell in hand, he’d select one of the students for ringing the bell “school’s ready to start.”
Then of course, school bells became mechanized, too, with more than fair share of problems, but classes still always started.
Moving into upper levels, class starting and completion time was always warned with a buzzer. Students became bewildered when it didn’t ring at the right time.
As much as noon and supper whistles are appreciated, certain folks become agitated. “I have a watch.” “That gets on my nerves.” “How dumb and old-fashioned can a town be?”
Of course, there are other times the whistle blows including whenever the city or rural firetrucks are called to make a run. That’s especially often every spring as volunteers are requested to assist in getaway Flint Hills pasture fires.
Likewise, when weather watchers know the town and area are threatened by tornadoes or storms, the whistle continues for minutes. It’ll repeat again soon if there’s still concern of hazardous conditions.
As the 6 o’clock whistle blew last week when getting fuel, the service station owner reflected. “That was always the warning, I better get home. Mom had supper ready.”
Reminded of Isaiah 5:26: “He will whistle, and they will know.”