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THE MAGIC CHOIR ROBE












The Methodist church in my hometown of Miller, South Dakota was responsible for my moral upbringing and much of my social life for a few years. Sunday morning you arose, still smelling like Lifebuoy soap from the Saturday night bath. After a wash up, you slicked your hair down with Bay Rum hair oil and put on your Sunday best. You were now prepared for a half a day of good old-fashioned religion.

Sunday school was for everyone from preschool through high school .The Bible illustrations on velvet made quite an impression on me, and I still can remember climbing Jacob's ladder.  We sang Bible verses to simple tunes to help us commit them to memory.

The adults arrived for church services an hour after Sunday school, and the prominent leaders of the town and their families were drawn to the front pews like magnets. Dressed in their expensive finery, they created a miniature style show. I couldn't help but think the sermon might be aimed at them, because gossip had them committing the most sins.

Two of my friends and I attended Methodist Summer Youth Camp for a week, and the highlight of the trip was a gift I made for my mother. It was a shoehorn made from a cow's horn. My mom treasured it for years. As I recall, it had a weird odor, and only a mother's love made her keep it.

My friends and I were recruited to sing in the choir when we reached high school age. I sang tenor when I started and bass by the time I was a senior. The friends I sang with were considered as devilish as I was.  I'm sure the congregation marveled at the transformation that took place when we put on that choir robe. It was like magic the way we changed from devils to angels before their eyes.

The choir director was a huge woman who chose to wear tent-like flower-printed dresses which made her look like bad wallpaper. She was a good musician and had no problem keeping her young singers in line. We liked her and responded by singing our best.

The choir used wooden folding chairs to save room, and we placed them in uniform rows every Sunday morning. We had just finished singing the anthem at a Sunday service and the overweight director returned to her chair. Suddenly the wood nails and hinges gave way under her weight, and with a loud crash, sent the large lady sprawling on the floor. My friends and I reacted with blinding speed and had her on her feet and another chair under her before the minister knew what happened. The congregation remained silent while we returned to our seats. We maintained our composure until the final Amen. However, as we made our way across the parking lot after church, we laughed until we almost passed out.

When we removed the Magic Choir Robes, Satan was back in charge of our emotions, and we had a good laugh at the fat lady's expense.

2002 Maurice D Karst
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