Tag Archives: late

The Dark Knight rises – late


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Ron Rattner’s “Why The Choir Was Late” check out Ron’s site: www.SillySutras.com

The following article telling the story originally appeared in the March 27, 1950 issue of Life Magazine, was reprinted in the June 1950 issue of Reader’s Digest, and in the 1951 30th Anniversary Reader’s Digest Reader. And it was republished in 1991 by Time-Life Books in World of Luck: Library of Curious and Unusual Facts. ..

It happened on the evening of March 1 in the town of Beatrice, Nebraska. In the afternoon the Reverend Walter Klempel had gone to the West Side Baptist Church to get things ready for choir practice. He lit the furnace – most of the singers were in the habit of arriving around 7.15, and it was chilly in the church – and went home to dinner. But at 7.10, when it was time for him to go back to the church with his wife and daughter, Marilyn Ruth, it turned out that Marilyn Ruth’s dress was soiled, so Mrs. Klempel ironed another. Thus they were still at home when it happened.

Ladona Vandegrift, a high school sophomore, was having trouble with a geometry problem. She knew practice began promptly and always came early. But she stayed to finish the problem.

Royena Estes was ready, but the car would not start. So she and her sister, Sadie, called Ladona Vandegrift, and asked her to pick them up. But Ladona was the girl with the geometry problem, and the Estes sisters had to wait.

Mrs. Leonard Schuster would ordinarily have arrived at 7.20 with her small daughter, Susan. But on this particular evening she had to go to her mother’s house to help her get ready for a missionary meeting.

Herbert Kipf, lathe operator, would have been ahead of time but had put off an important letter. “I can’t think why,” he said. He lingered over it and was late.

It was a cold evening. Stenographer Joyce Black, feeling “just plain lazy,” stayed in her warm house until the last possible moment. She was almost ready to leave.

Because his wife was away, machinist Harvey Ahl was taking care of his two boys. He was going to take them to practice with him, but somehow he got wound up talking. When he looked at his watch, he saw he was already late.

Marilyn Paul, the pianist, had planned to arrive half an hour early. However, she fell asleep after dinner, and when her mother awakened her at 7.15 she had time only to tidy up and start out.

Mrs. F.E. Paul, choir director, and mother of the pianist, was late simply because her daughter was. She had tried unsuccessfully to awaken the girl earlier.

High school girls Lucille Jones and Dorothy Wood are neighbors and customarily go to practice together. Lucille was listening to a 7-to-7:30 radio program and broke her habit of promptness because she wanted to hear the end. Dorothy waited for her.

At 7.25, with a roar heard in almost every corner of Beatrice, the West Side Baptist Church blew up. The walls fell outward, the heavy wooden roof crashed straight down like the weight in a deadfall. But, because of such matters as a soiled dress, a cat nap, an unfinished letter, a geometry problem and a stalled car, all of the members of the choir were late – something which had never happened before.

Firemen thought the explosion had been caused by natural gas, which may have leaked into the church from a broken pipe outside and been ignited by the fire in the furnace. The Beatrice choir members had no particular theory about the fire’s cause, but each of them began to reflect on the heretofore inconsequential details of his life, wondering at exactly what point it is that one can say, “This is an act of God.”

We can only speculate on answers to these questions, or on other possible explanations. But whatever our views, such marvels and blessings can infuse us with awe and gratitude for our miraculous life in this wondrous world
and with abiding faith in the eternal mystery of Divine Love –
its Source.

And so may it be!


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Relax 2

The Meenister’s Log

Christmas Eve and a Watchnight Service at St.Ann’s in Charlotte Street, Port of Spain.

My associate, the delightful Rev Gerry Chen, was to preach the sermon, while I would handle the prayers and readings.

At almost twenty-five to midnight (the service was scheduled to start at 11.30 p.m) I thought that we’d better get started, even though Gerry hadn’t arrived.  Prayers with the choir, and then in we went.

We sang the first hymn, folowed by a short prayer,another Carol, the Nativity narrative – still no Gerry.

By the time we got to “Hark! the herald angels sing” and he still hadn’t appeared, I was mentally and desperately trying to cobble together some old illustrations (yes, friends, I’ve got loads of them, as you will have gathered if you’ve been following this blog  – YOU at the back, waken up!) which could be joined together to form some sort of Christmas message.

And then , during the last verse, the unflustered Rev Mr Chen, strolled into the church,went up to the pulpit, and, unrushed and unhurried, started the sermon – which finished at exactly 12 midnight.

Afterwards, I asked him what had delayed him – car trouble? domestic problems?

Nope:  he explained the reason as if it were the most obvious thing in the world:  “It was raining heavily, so I thought I’d better wait until it was a bit drier”

Happy Christmas

And God bless you, the Rev Gerry Chen – a truly lovely and devout man

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