Baby Boomer echoes

by Teresa R. Zaverl

It appears the Boomer generation has lived through years of noise.<BR><BR>Boomer moms and dads would be the first to testify our generation played the radio or phonograph “way too loud” or the vehicles we drove around had a bit much noise due to nonexistent mufflers or lack of the proper parts.<BR><BR>If it wasn’t music or cars, maybe ma or pa complained of constant ringing telephones, for we were the first generation spending hours conversing with our pals on the important matters of crushes, gossip, rock and roll groups, and yes, how to decipher an algebra problem.<BR><BR>Now we live in a world of different noises and I guess we’ve adapted to them.<BR><BR>Unlike the old phonographs or phones we’re now used to “beeps” - those coming from cell phones, household appliances, baby monitors, computer printers and car safety devices. There’s more, and if you’re living in today’s technology world you can list a ton than I can’t fathom.<BR><BR>But if you were a kid growing up in Ely during the ’50s and ’60s you may recall noise you lived with on a daily basis - and it just isn’t around anymore.<BR><BR>Someone not native to the area at the time would find it annoying I suppose. Most of us locals found it secure and comforting, a part of our town and where we were and what Ely was all about.<BR><BR>We were programmed to listen to predictable noise. Probably a better word would be sounds.<BR><BR>If you can remember opening the door around 6:30 a.m., you’ll recall the sound of the freight train coming into Ely’s depot. It was habit to hear it and I guess a sound unforgettable to those who did, but not one we thought would be absent for so long. We took it for granted and then when something hits you, like walking the old tracks, you can’t help but think of the days of the busy depot and all the deliveries coming to town. <BR><BR>Taking a trip out of town, even to Winton, Tower or Duluth wasn’t something unheard of if the family utilized the rail system. We had great service, viewed tons of scenery and weren’t so time consumed. It was a treat to travel any place on the train, and Boomers out there might remember the little trips your family might have made even to Winton on a Sunday afternoon.<BR><BR>I know things changed, but I’m glad I heard the train make its stop - almost like an alarm clock without the beeping or wake-up tunes - we didn’t need devices like that back then. If the train didn’t get you going, the mine whistle would. <BR><BR>There’s a few of us left remembering the shift whistle calling all men to work. It blasted at noon reminding all that lunch was in order. Hearing the old whistle was part of the daily deal and that things were still all right in the world - it was just that sense of normalcy.<BR><BR>Instead of the new millennium’s beeps and peeps, Boomer kids and their parents experienced bells and their various tones. Bells could sound from school or church. A bell sounding taught an individual to pay attention - not necessarily for a reward but pure awareness. <BR><BR>School bells tolled calling us to class or when we were to get up and go to the next classroom, come in from recess or finally get on home. <BR><BR>Church bells reminded us of time, especially the waking and end of the day. Even the 15 minute chime reminded a kid time has passed and the next hour the bell tolled was the one that got you thinking your time to head home is approaching. When the Angeles struck at 6 p.m. it reminded us the workday was done.<BR><BR>The rest of the noise from Ely came from the mines. <BR><BR>We grew up listening to the trains. Iron ore being dumped into rail cars - especially if you lived in a mining location such as Spaulding. Those sounds were normal and I don’t recall anyone calling them noise pollution.<BR><BR>I’d trade the beep beeps and the tweep tweeps any day for those times when daily noises embraced toot toot, rumble rumble, timing and chiming and a little rattle rattle - clang clang.<BR><BR> <BR><BR>