Real-Life Miracles: The Luckiest Choir in the World

In honor of the Christmas season, I’ve decided to spotlight a remarkable story made famous by an Unsolved Mysteries segment titled “The Lucky Choir.” Watch the video here.

A still from the Unsolved Mysteries episode "The Lucky Choir." How did pure chance save over a dozen lives?

A still from the Unsolved Mysteries episode “The Lucky Choir.” How did pure chance save over a dozen lives?

March 1st, 1950. The small town of Beatrice, Nebraska. Every Wednesday night, the choir gathered at the West Side Baptist Church for their weekly practice. Their director, Mrs. Martha Paul, insisted the group begin their rehearsals promptly at 7:25 pm. The choir followed her rule exactly — always meeting at that specific time.

March 1st, however, found every single member of the choir running late due to a series of unconnected events:

Reverend Walter Klempel and his wife arrived at the church that afternoon in order to light the furnace. They left, allowing the church to warm up. Later that night, they were preparing to return with their infant daughter. However, the baby stained her dress, forcing Mrs. Klempel to prepare a new one. This delay was long enough to keep all three Klempel’s from the church before the 7:25 start time.

Ladona Vandegrift was a high school sophomore. She was also the choir’s soprano, but on that Wednesday night, Ladnona was struggling with her geography homework and had to stay late in order to finish.

Two other teenagers, Lucille Jones and Dorothy Wood, usually went to choir practice together. But Lucille had started listening to a radio program and was eager to learn the ending. Dorothy waited with her, making them both late.

Meanwhile, Marilyn Paul, the piano accompanist, fell asleep after dinner. She only sat down to take a short nap, but when she woke up, it was 7:15. Her mother, the choir director, tried to wake her up earlier with no success. Both of them were late as a result.

Mrs. Leonard Schuster had meant to arrive a half hour early, but she had to visit her mother first. Again, a simple delay.

Royena Estes and her sister Sadie fell victim to a car that suddenly wouldn’t start. They called Ladona to pick them up, but Ladona was already running late.

Harvey Ahl was busy taking care of his two sons. He was going to take the boys with him, but lost track of time.

Like Mrs. Schuster, Herbert Kipf would have arrived early if not for an important letter he had to finish and mail.

Joyce Black, the stenographer, lived right across the street from the church. But because of the bitter cold, she waited until the last possible moment to leave her house.

And that’s when it happened. At approximately 7:27, a gas leak from an underground pipe line ruptured, producing a spectacular explosion. The entire church was reduced to rubble. The choir members arrived soon after, thinking the others had been killed in the blast. They discovered, amazingly, that no one had been inside at the time. Because of a string of unrelated coincidences, the whole choir was safe and sound.

What exactly happened that cold March night — how did so many variables fall into place, preventing over a dozen people from arriving at the moment they met every Wednesday, the moment a powerful explosion ripped their church apart? Was it pure coincidence or something more? Whatever you choose to believe, the simple fact that no one was hurt makes this a real-life miracle.

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