The noon whistle: Did you grow up with one?

I was pottering around outside today, when I heard the noon whistle go off, in the village about 3 miles away. It sounds every Monday thru Saturday, right at (you guessed it) noon.

It gave me pause to contemplate the fact that I’d been hearing that damn whistle since the late 1950’s. Back in the day, it signalled me to head into the house for lunch. And frankly sometimes now it reminds me it’s time to eat.

I moved away from my original home (and whistle) in 1964, and didn’t return to it full-time until 1995. I don’t recall hearing a noon whistle anywhere else I lived in between. Of course, I did live in Flint, MI for a while in the mid 60’s so it’s possible I heard one there, but forgot.

Did you grow up with a noon whistle? Do you have a noon whistle now? Pro whistle? Con?

Interesting question.

We lived on an Air Force base from 1958-1961, and there wasn’t a noon whistle, but there was a 5:00 whistle/siren. All the kids knew it was time to head home for dinner.

I went to a Catholic school in the 8th grade (1962) that was across the street from the big old church (just like in the Bing Crosby movies). The Angelus was rung at noon (and presumably at 6 am and 6 pm, too, but we weren’t in school then.) We stopped what we were doing and said the Angelus ("The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…). During funerals the church bell would toll very slowly and we would stop and pray for the deceased.

I like the idea of a signal that the whole community understands.

I have been on military bases where there’s a 5:00 siren of some sort and people stop their cars. I was riding with a retired general one day, and he got out of the car and saluted. Possibly the playing of taps was broadcast across the base-- it was a long time ago. I’m guessing it’s the lowering of the flag at the end of the day. (Someone correct me on that.)

I grew up with a noon whistle (Trumansburg NY, 1980s) not sure if they still have it. We lived about a block from it and every now and again it would get stuck.

We didn’t have a noon whistle, we had the noon tornado siren. Every day at noon, even on the weekends or in the middle of winter, the fire station would test the tornado siren. Unless it was storming, didn’t want to scare anyone.

mills and factories had a whistle.

My town had a bell tower, the bells would toll every hour, with long ones at noon and midnight (WTF?). My aunt used to live in front of the tower and totally ignored them. My husband grew up in front of the city hall (different country), which also has a bell tower, my in-laws don’t seem to care.

So, no whistle, just annoying bells.

I remember the noon whistle from my childhood in Upstate New York. I think it must have been at my grandma’s in Dewitt, since she babysat me while my parents were at work. I loved hearing it; I was very attached to it and would get really excited and yell when it went off.

I grew up in Evanston, IL, and we had the bells. Every quarter hour. On the hour, it would be the full measure, plus the Bongs for the hour. I always knew what time it was. It was just a part of life there.

The various places I’ve lived since then haven’t had any bells or whistles. At all.

The place I’m at now, the catholic church in town does do the bells, but they have some sort of electronic system in place, with megaphones, rather than actual bells. And they are inconsistent, sporadic, about it. And once in a great while, they let the kids control the thing, so it’s just random chaos for a few minutes.

I miss Evanston.

Is this a public whistle, or a whistle owned by a factory or something? Why does it go off? Who sets it off?

No, no noon whistle here, and I’m not familiar with the custom. But I did spend summers in an attic room next to the belltower of the church next door. It was amazing and beautiful, and I was so bummed when they switched to a recording.

I grew up near a church that chimed every quarter hour. My campus plays nice bells every quarter hour and a really nice melody at noon.

Our town sounds the fire whistle at noon. They say back in the day the sounded the whistle at 6 pm on summer nights to tell the kids to go home!

When I was spending time at my grandparents in Danville VA in the 1950s, I certainly heard it.

Noon whistle/tornado whistle/volunteer fire department whistle. And eventually it happened: a fire whistle at noon. All that could be done was phone as many volunteers as possible, and the rest came when they heard them honking their horns as they raced through town to the fire station.

Still happens where I now live. Heard it today, in fact.

We never had one, and I’d never even heard of one. Is there some common element between towns that had them, versus towns that didn’t?

In Lexington KY we had the “tolling of the iron bells” at noon to call the faithful to lunch. There was a siren but it was only set off for tornadoes or nuclear wars, both of which were rather infrequent.

The Civil Defense horn sounded at noon every Wednesday.
I know now it was to test it, but back then it was just another reminder that we could be atomized by a nuclear blast at any time.

Towns with big factories vs those that don’t have them? We could hear them from one of the elementary schools I went to, and the whistle was at a factory. When I moved to NH, and lived in towns without factories, I never heard a noon whistle again.

No factory here. Ours is in a fire station though.

In my hometown too, for every shift change as well as noon.

Every beagle in town would sing along with it.

The tornado sirens in the next town over went off every Wednesday at noon (they still might, I don’t know). The ones here have something called a “silent test” (I think it tests the air and the noise thing separately) so they only actually sound around once a month.

When I was really young, the fire department still had a siren, but it was obsolete and annoying (we lived more than half a mile from it and it was very audible) so they got rid of it.