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Lack of music in newsroom blamed on Minnesota woman

March 30, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer
Honestly, the lack of music in the newsroom is not my fault.

The demise of the Friday night singalong might be attributed to me, I guess, since its death coincided unconditionally with my working on Friday nights, but I refuse to take the blame.

I’m blaming Margaret Miller. She lives in the Minneapolis area now, but she lived in Vincent way back when and went to South Enes Lutheran Church.

That’s where my family went, too.

A few weeks ago I saw her at her brother’s wake — Marold Miller died on the Ides of March and was buried on March 18 — and when I told my husband about her, it suddenly dawned on me that all my problems with singing stem from her. Really.

Back then, Margaret had a beautiful alto voice. She may still sing beautifully, but I haven’t heard her in years. Now, keep in mind, I don’t think my own singing is all that bad, which causes no small hysterics either at work or with my family, so I may not know beautiful when I hear it. In my mind, though, her voice filled the church with a glorious sound.

Her mother was choir director, who, when we first showed up for practice, asked if we sang alto or soprano. I thought Margaret was the cat’s meow and I wanted to sit next to her, so I claimed an alto voice. Everybody else thought they sang soprano, so it was left to Margaret and me to cover the lower ranges of any song. She didn’t need me, but I was there just the same.

We were a small choir, to be sure, but we were our parents’ kids, so really, we could do no wrong in the singing department. It might have been they were just glad to have us sitting in the front of the church where they could keep their eyes on us.

When Margaret sang loudly, I sang loudly. As a pair, we were great. It made me wonder, though, when she was asked to sing a duet for church, why she always chose someone else to sing with. I told myself it was only that two altos in one duet was one alto too many. Upon reflection — well, I don’t want to go there.

A few weeks ago at Grace, we sang “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” a song I learned to sing at Margaret’s side. I knew how to go up and down with the notes while standing next to her, so I used that same knowledge while standing next to my husband. He never says much, but he did move slightly to the left. Again, I don’t want to go there.

Since Marold’s death and seeing Margaret again, I’ve been thinking a lot about Vincent. I love that little town. When I’m there, something inside turns back the years and I forget that so many members of the church, as I knew it, have died or moved away. It hasn’t been that long ago that Leona Lemke Seehusen and Roberta Michalson died. Mom died more than three years ago. Today would have been Dad’s 83rd birthday, had he lived.

When I think of Vincent, I remember that Fourth of July celebration where it seemed the world came to play. I couldn’t have been more then 7 or 8, but I remember the fun. I remember, too, the outdoor movies and lying on a blanket with my dearest friend, Kathleen, and her parents, Kenny and Agnes.

I remember the centennial — I think it was the centennial — where I walked in the parade pulling a wagon with a bucket filled with little cheese cups. We lived in Wisconsin at the time, and I wrote a card for my float that read, “Say, please, Wisconsin cheese.” If anyone said it, I gave them a cheese cup. The cheese went fast once people realized that’s all they had to do.

My daughter wanted to be part of the walking float, so she had an outfit with mice ears and a tail, but when push came to shove and the parade started, she stripped down to her shorts and T-shirt and walked along to hand out the cheese.

Oh, the memories. It’s no wonder I love that little town. I’d really sing its praises if they’d let me sing. Still, as Martha McColley once told me, we’re not urged to sing well, just to “make a joyful noise until the Lord.”

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or


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