Throwback Thursday – The Bells of Bowling Green

For over four thousand years, the sound of bells ringing has symbolized a special event, a tribute, and general gathering. Discovering an 1886 C&S bell on this reporter’s family farm in Greenhill in Warren County gave us an idea for this week’s special holiday edition of Throwback Thursday.

In 1946, Frank Capra used the sound of bell ringing in one of the most famous holiday films of all time. In It’s a Wonderful Life, bell ringing symbolized an angel getting its wings and reminded the main character, George Bailey, how one person impacts the lives of everyone they meet. Jimmy Stewart’s character learned the value of family and life itself. 

At the onset of the pandemic, our governor asked us to ring the bells every day. We rang them for those lost, for those risking their lives to fight it, and to support all Kentuckians in a sense of communal good. Bowling Green has had many bells past and present. In a symbolic dedication, we thought it would be fun to feature as many as we could find. So we reached out to the “You know you’re from Bowling Green if…” Facebook group asking for any bells in living memory. 

The Cherry Hall and Guthrie Tower bells chime across the campus at WKU. Church bells can be heard at State Street Methodist, First Christian, Saint Joseph’s, Cumberland Presbyterian, and Eastwood Baptist. HOTEL Inc. rings the bell at Delafield’s Little Rock Church when a family finds housing. The 19th century Warren County Courthouse bell tower overlooks 11th Street. 

The L&N Depot bell is still rung by visitors, and often rang when trains arrived at the passenger station. Briarwood Elementary has a bell guarding its entrance. And this reporter’s great grandparents rang the bell when it was mealtime on the farm.

Though we’re staying safe and aren’t gathering as often this holiday season, we hope you all continue to embrace the good and feel the joy in our southern Kentucky community. How do you and your family remember the bells?