Allow me to tell you a story. A spooky story that I felt was perfect for the season and this day. Happy Halloween everyone!
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This is the story of the Curse of the Luther Bell. Now, you’re probably sitting there going, “Really, Kat? A bell? At your very Lutheran college?” and I’m sitting her saying “Yes, a bell” in a very spooky voice with a flashlight held under my chin. This particular bell belongs to Luther College, a quaint little place in the far northeast of Iowa, where nothing worse than a few drunk assholes setting off the fire alarm in the Freshman dorms occurs.
OR IS IT?
Near the Union, the only building other than the dorms the parents ever see, the rests a pillared structure. Lounging between the two pillars rests the bell. Though quiet, iconic, and picturesque, this bell holds a curse, a curse which has been in place from the time the college was started, 150 years ago . . .
Picture it readers: Forests stretching out to unknown destinations, the river winding its way lazily through the quiet town of Decorah, where Norwegian-Americans have come to create a lovely haven for those who wish to pretend the really didn’t leave the desolate coasts of Norway for the desolate plains of Iowa. Or however Decorah got settled. I don’t really know. Something something Norway something is about all I hear in town.
I know! I know!
In this place, this place of quiet and occasional floods, some Norwegian guy decided to build a college! This college was placed upon a hill, a great symbol of higher learning and the new future the people of Decorah would have in this new world! It was also placed upon this hill because it would have been washed away by floods if they had put it lower with the other houses that got flooded. This college soon became a beacon of education in this little part of America that for some reason produced a lot of those kinds of schools . . . A great building, known now as Main I, was constructed, perched on this hill, overlooking her kingdom with all the regal splendor of any of those European queens that actually ruled over things, a crown for Decorah in the river valley. Tolling proudly in Main I was the bell.
The Bell of Luther College. Cast to celebrate this glorious college. Little did they know, the bell had an ancient Norwegian curse on it.
Oh, yeah, bet you didn’t know that part of the story, did ya? It’s true, 100%. The ancient Nordic gods were displeased with the Norwegians for leaving their home country and Loki, the great god of Mischief and Fucking-Shit-Up, came down to Luther College, the pride of this new settlement of deserters, and whispered to the bell. And do you know, dear readers, what he told it? Two simple, simple words, whispered sweetly to this bell.
Deep in the night, on a perfect spring evening in May 1898, a fire sparked to life. The fire spread quickly, raging with supernatural purpose, consuming the building and the bell, burning Main I to the ground. Nothing remained, not even the vengeful bell. But that does not stop the story. Oh no, dear readers. There’s more.
Another bell was made from the same mold and maker and patiently awaited placement in the next Main, Main II. Though the first bell was taken by the fire, the curse remained, carried by the spirit of the bell and embedded even deeper into the second bell. Ceremoniously, it was placed in Main II, which was by far the most beautiful building on campus (more building having been added to the main campus at this point). It towered above, even more castle-like than the first, spires rising majestically toward the clouds, lording over the river valley with even more pretentious fop than the first. All who came to Luther couldn’t help but notice this amazing building, keeping time with the reverberating tones from the bell as it was rung.
Main II stood proudly for nearly 60 years, watching benevolently as the college grew and thrived, increasing in size and diversity. The community grew, and peace settled over the land. There were good times and bad, but they were weathered with the fortitude of Norwegians who were now considerably more American, but still with creepy little gnomes in almost every window. Through all this, the bell waited, the curse ever present.
In 1942, another mysterious blaze engulfed Main II. The bell had extracted another victim, another fire, another moment of terror for Luther College. Students, faculty, and staff mourned the loss of the beloved structure of Main II, which was promptly replaced with one of the ugliest, most boring buildings in the world, perhaps even the Universe. Flat, drab, and hated by all, Main III was a better punishment than the curse could have hoped for. Now, instead of reverence for the building, residents simply felt disgust and loathing toward what once was a symbol of the college.
Tragically for the college, the bell’s justice did not end there, for it was moved to another building that was held in the higest regard. If the residents couldn’t praise Main II as the jewel of the college, they could still have the Preus Gymnasium, named after one of their most revered historical figures, where the bell was moved to next. Through this building, they could still celebrate their college. Even though there was really no reason for the curse to really be relevant anymore at this point, that is no the way of curses.
So Preus Gymnasium had to go. 19 years after Main II burned down, yet another blaze consumed the gym. The bell had struck its final victim (ha ha bell pun). With nothing but the charred remains of not one but three buildings, the bell was retired to where it stands now, a symbol of Luther College, proudly displayed in front of the Union, as though it isn’t plotting its next victim.
We can only hope, dear readers, that the curse has be altered somewhat to just burning down a building in the near vicintiy, and that Main III will be next. Because, seriously, everyone hates that building. The structure doesn’t make sense, it’s ugly, and in general just a boring piece of architecture and they refuse to change it! Come on Curse of the Bell! Get on with it already!
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I hope you enjoyed this little story of our local Curse, dear readers. Many of the facts are actually true, but some are not. Actually, the only thing that isn’t proven to be true is that Loki cursed the bell. Those three buildings did burn down and the bell was in all three. Spooky, right? Muahahahahaha! Happy Halloween readers!