Monday, September 11, 2017

Mystery Monday: Late Choir

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...



Church choirs have long been a vital part of most church services. Choir members volunteer hours of their time for practice, as well as committing to be front and center at church, usually for multiple services a week.


The West Side Baptist Church choir in Beatrice, Nebraska was even more dedicated than most. The 15 people who made up the choir were never, ever late for their 7:20 pm choir practice. They knew if they were late, they'd feel the wrath of the choir director, Mrs. Paul.

West Side Baptist Church Image credit: Unsolved Mysteries

On March 1, 1950, though, it seemed everything was against the 15 perfectly punctual choir members:


  • Ladona Vandergrift--The high school sophomore was stuck on a geometry problem and couldn't seem to set it aside to leave on time.
  • Royena Estes--Her car wouldn't start. She called Ladona for a ride, but had to wait for Ladona to finish her math problem.
  • Mrs. Schuster--She and her small daughter, who would have come to practice with her, stopped by Mrs. Schuster's mom's house to help her get ready for a meeting.
  • Herbert Kipf--Ran late because he was working hard to finish a letter.
  • Joyce Black--Was procrastinating going out into the cold.
  • Harvey Ahl--Was planning to bring his two boys to practice with him, but ran late because he was talking.
  • Marilyn Paul--Overslept her nap. Marilyn was the pianist for practice.
  • Mrs. Paul--The choir director was late because of her oversleeping daughter, Marilyn. She couldn't get her to wake up earlier when she tried.
  • Lucille Jones and Dorothy Wood--These high school girls usually went to practice together, but Lucille wanted to listen to the rest of a radio show.

Earlier, the Reverend had gone to the church to warm things up. He lit the furnace and went home to eat dinner. He would have normally arrived at 7:10, but his wife was ironing his daughter's dress, so he, too, was late.

At 7:25 pm, residents throughout the area heard a loud bang as the furnace exploded. The church was demolished. Every choir member was spared because they were all late.


It was the first time the choir had been late for practice. But if they hadn't been late, they likely would have all died or been seriously injured in the explosion.


The above was from a well-known Life Magazine report on the explosion. Click here to read more about it.

Do you think divine intervention was at play here? Or was it just a coincidence?

35 comments:

  1. Wow, this is amazing. It almost sounds as if it were made up, like something that only happens in the movies.

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    1. I know! When I saw it on Unsolved Mysteries, I wasn't sure (although they interviewed a lot of the people mentioned). But then seeing it in Life magazine cemented it for me. Of course, people can exaggerate about the fact that they'd NEVER been late before...

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  2. Divine intervention - God definitely had a hand in it.

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    1. It certainly leads one to think that, since it was a church.

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  3. Wow. All of them being late can not be coincides. Something else was at work here.

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  4. OMG, what a story. Not sure where you dug it up but glad you did.

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    1. I learned about it on Unsolved Mysteries, so y'all watch out! Many of the seasons are on Amazon Prime now. Yipee!!!

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  5. Yes indeed, they were spared each and every one of them. Couldn't have been a coincidence, far too many!

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    1. I agree...as long as they all were actually NEVER late before.

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  6. With God there isn't any coincidences!! Divine intervention saved them all.

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  7. I've read about this before. Amazing story.

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    1. I knew you would've heard this story before! You always love a good mystery.

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  8. The only way to know if it was a coincidence or not would be to have a detailed log of other rehearsals. The choir members knew exactly why they were late for this day, but what about all the other days? I think this one will remain a mystery, but thankfully, a happy mystery.

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    1. You think like I do...how do we possibly know that not a SINGLE one of them had ever been late before? I can't imagine that's the case... I'm always the skeptic in any group! I love the stories, but my mind always jumps in and ruins it for me.

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  9. Good heavens Stephanie that was a stroke of luck all round - divine intervention of some sort ... as Tamara says a mystery, but a happy one - extraordinary ... cheers Hilary

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    1. These types of stories are inspiring, and we can't get enough inspiration in the world we're living in today!

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  10. That is weird. Maybe the choir members were in cahoots with the pastor to collect insurance on the building? Stranger things have happened. Maybe I read too many detective books.

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    1. Oh my! You DEFINITELY have a good imagination. I hadn't even thought of that!!! That sounds like the makings of a good book...

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  11. I love stories like this and it sort of reminds me of the movie Final Destination. Even though a lot of people disagree with me, I believe that no one goes before his or her time, so fate - or God steps in every time to make sure that happens. Happy Monday!

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    1. That is true. But my Grandma Capps had some words of wisdom. She was terrified to fly and someone said, "When it's your time to go, it's your time to go." She said, "But what if it's time to go for the person seated next to me?"

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  12. Angels were working overtime, for sure. I'm a believer. :)

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  13. That is too much of a coincidence. Whatever spirit helped them through, I'm so glad they did get the help. This would make a great movie

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  14. Too many events for it to be coincidence I think.....Now, if they were wanting a new church to be paid for by the insurance company then it may have been collusuion rather than coincidence. If I was their insurer I just might be suspicious.

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  15. I don't believe in coincidence. God definitely was at work. This is so inspiring.

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  16. My faithful dreamer heart likes to think there are few coincidences.

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  17. Coincidence or divine intervention, I'm just glad that nobody got hurt.

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  18. That would be an awful lot of coincidences to happen at the same time.

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  19. Of course it was divine intervention! Coincidence? I don't think so.

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  20. That just gives me goose bumps. I'm going with divine intervention.

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  21. I believe there are no accidents! Divine intervention!

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  22. I believe it had to be divine intervention. Glad to read an uplifting story today.

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  23. That is one of those instances were it's just too coincidental for it to be a coincident. Someone of a higher power stepped in.

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  24. God definitely was at work. This is so inspiring.


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