Blue bells -- yes, blue bells -- Historic RittenhouseTown, Wednesday evening.
Blue bells we called them on the farm were I grew up in York County, Pennsylvania, and blue bells they were called by the old timers in Blue Bell Hill when I first moved here fifteen years ago. A botanist would tell you no, that they are grape hyacinths, and I have neighbors who grow true blue bells as a show of pride for their neighborhood. But my theory is that these are the blue bells for which Blue Bell Hill was named.
Blue Bell Hill has been known by that name since at least 1877. A record exists somewhere showing that the local church then was called Blue Bell Hill Mission. But why that name? Well, the hill leading up from Historic RittenhouseTown to the neighborhood today is covered with thick woods, but not too long ago it was pasture. Clem Rittenhouse, who used to stop by the visitor center at RittenhouseTown when I was a volunteer there in the early 1990s remembered when it was pasture. His memories would have gone back to at least the 1920s, and I have seen old photographs from well before then showing a bare hill.
On the farm where I grew up the blue bells loved exposed hillsides, especially if they got a lot of sun. In April they would turn the hill in the lower pasture on our farm deep blue. As they did on the sun drenched hills of neighboring farms.
I imagine the hill that leads up from RittenhouseTown a hundred years ago painted blue in April -- the conditions would have been perfect -- and travelers along Lincoln Drive and Rittenhouse Street remarking on that sight. Surely it would become know as Blue Bell Hill.
Thanks to Wayfaring Wanderer, whose post inspired this post.