Letters From Leton: Joyful Bells

A few years back at my wife’s family farm, we found a big old bell. Her cousin Erik erected it on a pole and rang it out. Man, was it loud!

It was the bell that had been used on the farm for years to call folks back in for a hearty farm lunch (or dinner as we call it) from their labors in the field.

Bells are a part of many aspects of our lives. From Santa’s bells to bells rung at the Barter Theater calling patrons back to their seats.

But there is one bell that has a special quality about it – Church Bells.

Church Bells call us to worship. Church Bells announce the joyful news of a wedding. Bells throughout history have rung out from the highest church steeples to carry important messages throughout a town or area.

Annual Shareholder Call 2020

Each year we hold our Annual Shareholders Meeting – a special event for a Bank that is 132 years old. Folks whose family have owned stock in our Bank return home, and it does have the feel of a family reunion as much as a shareholders meeting.

One person who comes in for the family reunion (I mean shareholder meeting) is Dr. David Couk from Warrenton. Unfortunately, this year we had to have a closed meeting, and our shareholders joined by conference call.

I phoned Dr. Couk to express my regrets that he could not come and to pick his brain – as he is a great story teller and regals attendees with some tidbits of Lee County history during our annual meetings.

I also thought that he could share with me some inspiring “Bank story” of how we made it through the Spanish Flu or Great Depression. No, he shared, he couldn’t recall a story about the heroic efforts of one of my predecessors that could inspire me.

Rather, he recalled VE Day. For the uninitiated, that was the day Germany surrendered (Victory in Europe Day) in 1945 during World War II. People were so happy – so joyful, and what better way to show your joy than to ring Church Bells?

So Dr. Couk’s local boy scout troop (which included him) came up quickly with the idea to ring the local Church Bell in Jonesville for 24 hours – straight!

Hurriedly they put together a ringer list, got their parents approval to stay out all night (Dr. Couk was especially excited about that), and began ringing the bell. 24 hours. Non-stop. No complaints about the noise from any of the towns folks.

After 24 hours, and with sore arms and blisters on their hands, the Jonesville Boy Scouts completed their mission of honoring the troops and giving a physical manifestation to the absolute joy that the entire community shared.

I relayed Dr. Couk’s story during our shareholder call on May 15th.

As I have reflected on this story, I am remined that one day we will have a similar reaction to COVID-19. Maybe a cure – maybe a vaccine. And we will be filled with absolute joy!

I wonder if the Boy Scouts will ring the bells?

– Leton

“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.