The Chancel

Writing this article has been a learning experience for me. When I started, I did not know what to call the raised portion of the floor in the front of the sanctuary. I have only been going to P.P.C. since 1934 and one is never too old to learn. I always referred to that portion as the platform. A friend looked it up on her phone and the answer came back “CHANCEL”. That makes sense now because we have the Chancel Choir. Please do not laugh at me. I am learning.

When I was growing up in the 1930s and early 1940s the church choir was three or four ladies and sometimes a man or two, depending if the farmer had irrigation water which ran for twenty four hours day and night. The farmer took the water when the Salt River Water User’s Association (now SRP) scheduled it for you; sometimes your water run is on Sunday as it is still today.

The choir chairs were plain dark wood with straight backs (no curve to fit your back) over 36” tall. The backs had four wood vertical slats about an inch and a half wide. The seat was PLAIN wood. The cushion you sat on was always with you. When you got up from the chair, so did the cushion. It did have a cover on it, SKIN. I do not remember any choir member sleeping in church during the sermon.

The high back old type piano was in the north back corner of the Chancel. If it would

have been out front on the main floor it would have blocked the view of some of the

congregation on the first and second pew. The pianist had her back to the choir director

and the congregation. But on the piano above the pianist’s head was about a 2” by 5” mirror so she could see the choir director’s hand signals and we got along okay for the time.

Across the front of the Chancel was a curved pipe about two feet tall to hide the front row ladies bare knees. At this time in the century I do no remember any ladies wearing slacks or peddle pushers to church. It was only fitting to wear a dress with a hat to match. In 1938, the Johnsons took a trip to Ohio in a 2 door, 1934 Plymouth to visit my mother’s relatives. The car had a back seat covered with bedding for the night at a cheap motor lodge. The car had bucket seats for two in the front and three kids and dad’s mother in the back seat. Dad did have a small trunk bolted on the back bumper. The car had no built in trunk. The spare tire hung on the back. A water jug and a food box were under the back seat legs. Do you get the picture? Sunday morning in Ohio, mother was dressed for church with her aunt and uncle with no hat. If mother had a hat, it would have been FLAT by the time we reached Ohio. Mother’s aunt would not stand for her niece to attend church without a hat, so she dug one up for mother. Sorry, I get side tracked. The dress mode has changed today and the curtain was removed and if a lady is in the choir front row today with a dress one might hear the choir director say, “Keep your knees together.”

We had a minister’s wife whose dresses were nine inches from the floor to the bottom of the dress. If I remember correctly, her stockings were no see through jersey material. Her sleeves came to her wrist and the V of the neck was not there. There was no skin showing on this lady except her hands and from the chin up. A big difference for today’s ladies, with some, their upper body parts are almost falling out of their blouse.

So much for the skin and no skin showing. Next month’s article topic, a surprise when you entered sanctuary. A mess of removed boards and open spaces in the floor of the Chancel.