RewiNDSU: Ladd Hall carillon rings on
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 15:09
After Mike Luidahl graduated with a degree in university studies from NDSU in 1997, he returned to NDSU for a second major and is currently studying broadcast journalism. With years of wisdom and real world experience under his belt, he hopes to enlighten the student body by rewinding back to NDSU experiences from back in the day and describe how it differs now in his column entitled “RewiNDSU.”
Although the NDSU Bison fight song “On Bison” can currently be heard across campus three times a day via the carillon bell tower, many past alumni never knew it even existed. Most of them probably don’t know what they missed, but, at the same time, those who have had the opportunity to listen on a daily basis potentially took the experience for granted.
Upon my return to campus earlier this year I quickly realized that music made famous by the Gold Star Marching Band was frequently being broadcast from somewhere and that happened to be from atop Ladd Hall. I then began to think of how the scheduled ringing out of this tune was never regularly enjoyed by thousands who walked the university’s streets and sidewalks throughout its history.
According to NDSU Spectrum archives, actual metal alloy chimes pealed out a number of scores from the east tower of Old Main for several years until a malfunction in the spring of 1953. There was no mention of the bells ever becoming operational again once the clock became dependent on an electric time keeping system in 1954. The chimes were eventually donated to Bonanzaville in West Fargo about fifteen years later.
Absence of the school spirit inducing melodies among many other selections eventually became the new normal until 1976 when 1935 NDSU graduates Robert and Paula Parrott donated the carillon that is still in use today.
Residing NDSU president L.D. Loftsgard said of the gift, “This carillon will pleasantly complement the atmosphere of SU. A place where learning, new knowledge and research can be quietly pursued away from the pressures, noises and distractions of everyday life.”
The carillon, which doesn’t consist of 49 real bronze bells, but sounds just like them, filled the air with sounds that could be played through a program or manually until technical problems arose in 1989. The device manufacturer’s repair job didn’t quite last through the academic year and the tower went silent again in May of 1990.
“It’s unfortunate it isn’t working,” said Gary Reinke, who was director of SU’s Physical Plant at the time. “I think it enhances the environment (at SU). We would definitely like to have it going again.”
Carillon repairs weren’t conducted for the next seven years and that’s precisely why my fellow classmates and I, who graduated shortly before it was fixed, were deprived of the interlude it provided from one’s academic grind. Having now been an NDSU student who knows what it’s like with and without the chimes, I couldn’t agree more with the comments made by both Loftsgard and Reinke.
More recently, there were short-lived carillon shutdowns during remodeling projects in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Therefore, it’s probably safe to assume there are still plenty of current upperclassmen, graduate students and faculty around who can at least somewhat relate to the feelings centered on this issue.
Then again, perhaps the nostalgia associated with an old building on campus equipped with a bell tower that plays specific NDSU marching band songs doesn’t have the overall appeal that it once did. However, with that said, I can’t imagine why the true Bison faithful wouldn’t want its consistent ringing to forever remain a quaint memory of their college years.
There was a time when students were encouraged to pause, remove their headgear and maybe even sing along as the song played. Including myself, I highly doubt that anybody would even consider this, but just in case you would like to do more than hum along the lyrics aren’t all that tough to learn.
“We Are The Pride”
We are the pride of North Dakota
State collegiates are we
Sons of the green and yellow prairies
Our colors will ever be
(Yell) STATE BISON!!
Cheer for our dear ol’ alma mater
Proud and loyal are we
And we’ll fight -- RAH! RAH!
Yes we’ll fight -- RAH! RAH!
For North Dakota State U team.