Meanwhile, also in the local paper…the chimes still burn Ted Storck

Long time readers will recall my long battle with Ted Storck, the guy who donated a carillon to the local cemetery two blocks from my home, and played hymns and patriotic songs every goddamned quarter-hour all day long every day to the neighborhood. I wrote multiple times about those fucking bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, until someone finally took an axe to the wires (not me! Multiple residents were annoyed by the incessant noise), and finally, Storck removed the satanic gadget and moved the curse to some town in Arizona, I think.

Storck still writes in to the local paper to complain, though. He is very bitter about how little we appreciated his gift, so when he finds a place with a carillon he has to tell us about it.

The next time you motor south of Minneapolis on I-35 about 55 miles south of the Minnesota-Iowa border, take Highway 3 east about nine miles to Hampton, Iowa.

Miles before you get there, you’ll see the Franklin County courthouse looming about nine stories above the Iowa prairie. It was constructed in the 1880s, and was refurnished a few years ago. First, note the statue of the Lady of Liberty on the very top of the cupola; then see the other four statues surrounding the cupola. Then, go inside to see what a great job the county did restoring the courthouse.

And, then stand outside and wait for the bells to chime the hour, quarter hour, and half hour, followed by a church Carillion bell system answering with a hymn.

When I recently visited my friend in Hampton, he introduced me to a county official who was asked (knowing what happened in Morris) if there were ever any complaints? The official said, “no, the town loves to hear the chiming starting at 7 a.m. and ending with the bells sounding at 10 p.m. ” He added, looking at me, “We are Iowans; why would anyone complain; we are Iowa-nice.”

Wow. So Iowa-nice throws even more shade than Minnesota-nice? I’m impressed.

I’m glad we got rid of those horrors. If we hadn’t, they’d be gone now, because one change in town is that a large apartment complex, East Point Village, was built across the street from the cemetery, even closer to the site of those damnable bells than we are right now. In case you’re wondering, here’s a map: I’m the squiddly thing at Third & College, the bells are the skull, and the new apartment complex is directly across College Avenue from Hell’s Bells former location, on the left edge of the map.

I would hope the apartment residents would appreciate our heroic efforts, but nay, our valor shall be unsung…and also not chimed every quarter hour at them.


  1. garnetstar says

    Storck doesn’t seem to realize that it’s not necessarily the carillon, it’s the length of time the bells play, and when.

    I used to play a carillon that was in a populated area, and the times it was to be played were strictly set–1:20 in the afternoon, 6 PM–and strictly limited: ten minutes in the afternoon, 15 minutes at six. That was quite long enough, but at least nearby people weren’t inundated, or could prepare to put earplugs in for those few minutes. (As an aside, we players had to play baroque pieces written for the carillon, not cheesy hymns.)

    Continuous sound is used as a form of torture, I believe. Storck should volunteer to experience that, like Hannity volunteered to be waterboarded, see what it’s like.

  2. says

    I agree. I’ve been to places where there are carillons — the University of Utah had one, I recall, and they had music students play them at specific times, and they were quite nice.

    But also, the content matters. These were aggressive musical choices: “Onward Christian Soldiers”, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, the national anthem. It was Jesus, Uber-Patriot all the time.

  3. consciousness razor says

    It wasn’t a carillon. That’s a musical instrument, similar to an organ, which consists of an array of actual bells that a human performer (a carillonist) plays via a keyboard.

    It was essentially an outdoor jukebox, with four speakers on top of a post. (Your 2010 article has a picture).

  4. wzrd1 says

    @4, modern technology. Is a recording of someone playing an accordion a technological terror or simply a recording of art, which if incessantly repeated, become an annoyance?
    Hint: I used to play piano, organ and accordion. Playing anything back incessantly is an annoyance. Playing it to an entire community would have me collecting metal filings.
    To be collected into a fine flower pot and delivered to decorate the control station of that device.
    And a road flare inserted.

    Iron, it’s only thermite, add aluminum, it’s thermate, add zinc and one is being an asshole, for zinc boils at those temperatures, spraying molten metal about. The first two used in that context is a community contributor, the last, an arsonist and pyromaniac.

  5. consciousness razor says

    @4, modern technology. Is a recording of someone playing an accordion a technological terror or simply a recording of art, which if incessantly repeated, become an annoyance?

    I don’t care how modern it is. When you “play” a CD/MP3/record/whatever on a stereo system, we use the same English word, but you are not doing the same thing as when you “play” a synthesizer like a musician does. We shouldn’t equivocate about that. Musicians aren’t people who push the buttons on your stereo system; they deserve a little more credit than that.

    If it had been a carillon, I would not suggest it was therefore less of a nuisance. The fact just is that it wasn’t a carillon (or “bells”). Maybe the guy thinks it’s a more dignified name, rather than “jukebox” or whatever; but in any case, it does give a misleading impression.

    I have no clue how the recordings may have been produced. Somebody might have played the music originally. Then it would obviously be true that one or more people performed them (once, some time ago) — probably not on a real carillon, since they’re fairly rare and expensive, but in any case with some other type of instrument(s). However, that’s not the only possibility. The sounds could have been produced with MIDI or run through a sampler of some kind. That’s not out of the ordinary these days, since not hiring/paying musicians makes it an extremely cheap alternative. Then a set of computer programs is technically the performer of such a recording, and a person was only involved in writing what the computer would play. And then of course some other person can operate a jukebox-like machine, by pushing a button (or setting up a timer, etc.) which initiates the recording at a particular time.

  6. Matrim says

    @wzrd1, 6

    Iron, it’s only thermite, add aluminum, it’s thermate,

    Add aluminum, it’s still thermite. Add sulfur, then it’s thermate.

  7. gmacs says

    Hey! Morris is finally doing something with unused, previously-developed land?! I hope that having more housing that actually meets code hurts the bottom line of the shittier landlords.

  8. bryanfeir says

    There’s a proper Carillon over in Victoria BC where I grew up: the Netherlands Centennial Carillon. Since it was played by hand, it wouldn’t play late at night; officially, it’s played hourly from 10am to 5pm. Also, being right near the Museum and the Parliament buildings meant it wouldn’t be allowed to be too annoying.

    They just had their the carillon’s 50th anniversary half a year ago.

    Granted, finding somebody new able to play it when Rosemary Liang retires will be an issue. Carillonneurs aren’t exactly growing on trees.