At the town of Pyhasalmi, Finland , our travel adventures brought us to a wonderful discovery. The Brass Bell Roadhouse Restaurant on Highway E75. We had a delicious meal of weinerschnitzels and steaks, potatoes and vegetables. Two people ate well with wine for under $20, and the portions were huge, everything very fresh. We were fortunate to meet the manager, Lassi Ronkko, whose father started this roadhouse thirry years ago with one brass bell hanging in front. Lassi came to our table to tell about the wonderful collection of bells he now has.
They have purchased the bells through the years, starting the restaurant with only one chain of brass bells. They now display thousands of bells from around the world and have bells of every kind he knows of in the collection, which is now worth millions. We found the various bells displayed all around the little restaurant are most interesting, and different ones chimed as we ate. There is a wall of white ceramic bells in carrillon from Bavaria, which are extremely rare and play periodically throughout the day. Ronkko’s favorite was one he got when traveling in Oregon because his father had once been asked if there was any substance that could not be used to mnake a bell, and his father answered perhaps ash. Lassi found a bell made from ash from Mt. St. Helena and, of course, had to buy it.
You’ll see extremely valuable bells, including some with the English Royal family’s photographs on them, and there are hundreeds of just tourism bells. One bell from Bali is for good luck in fertility and was made in shape of a person, with the striker being a phallic symbol. The Chinese water bell was amazing. As Mr. Ronkko rubbed his wet hands on the handles of the bowl of water it became a sounding bell with the still water dancing like a fountain from the vibrations of the bells. He had Budhist bowl bells from Tibet, whose sounds increased as he circled the outside with the mallets.
We learned that In some languages the word for bell is the same as the word for clock, which is because before clocks, the bells tolled the hour. The collection includes several rare clocks, one of which contains the second oldest clockwork in the world. During World War II bells from all over Europe were melted to be used as bronze for guns. Then after the war, guns were melted to make bells, so peace bells were a reality.
Aluminum and steel bells do not make a good tone. Bronze are the best. Ten years ago the senior Ronkko put in a small foundry to manufacture bells for sale in the shop. On some days visitors can see bells being cast.
Outside you’ll first be attracted to the huge platform with several giant bronze bells , twenty tons are on the top story, including one carrillon played by a crank or a keyboard. One huge bell is over a phone booth, and the German priest who made it claims this is the only phone on which one can call directly to God. Most bells displayed outside are from Germany and Budapest. One tower carillon has a skirt to protect it from the weather in winter This one, which plays the most melodious rendition of all, is played by dialing a number on your cell phone, which for Finns is instead of using coins or credit cards to operate automatic machines.
We were sad to find out he didn’t have a Texas bell, so now we must send him one. If youhave a bell you’d like included in his collection, you may send it to Vaskikellontie 420; 86800 Pyhasalmi, Finland. His hope is to be invited to view the 300 carrillon collection of the a Texan.
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