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"Let Us Jump" from New Yorker

by Ellis Parker Butler
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from New Yorker
Let Us Jump
by Ellis Parker Butler

A few days ago I saw an item in one of the newspapers announcing that the minister of a New York church was to give a three-day air affair at a Flushing airport for the benefit of his church and that on Sunday five lady members of the choir would jump from airplanes from a height of five thousand feet.

The item did not say whether the choir ladies had volunteered to jump or had been picked by the congregation that has been hearing them sing, but I am now more than ever satisfied that I chose literature as a vocation and not choir-singing. So far the editors have not insisted that their authors jump five thousand feet; now and then one says ... and then, sir, fer a couple o' years we lived by Ozone Park, to be near her friends. "Butler, if this is the best you can do you had better go and jump off Brooklyn Bridge," but that is only one hundred and thirty-three feet high.

While this business of having the choir jump out of airplanes is probably a step in the right direction, I am afraid it is going to make it harder than ever to get good choirs together. This jump of five thousand feet is not much; it was probably figured that five thousand feet would be just right to let the girls sing the first and third verses, omitting the second, and end with a sustained "Ah-men" as they bumped, but when the contralto is asked to sing that long-anthem and has to go up four miles, there is going to be trouble. There may not be much complaint from the singers who are asked to sing on the way down from an airplane but when the organist is asked to jump from five thousand feet and bring the pipe organ with him you are going to hear a howl from him.

The competition between churches when parachute-jumping becomes firmly established will probably lead to enormous salaries for some of the fancy sing-jumpers, and we will read things like "At the morning service Miss Eleanora Cammick, coloratura soprano and holder of the 27,000-foot record, will sing the anthem and try for the new altitude of 30,000 feet," and "Next Sunday morning Mr. Enrico Maggiore, tenor, will leap from an airplane during the offertory, using an ordinary $3.75 umbrella as a parachute," and there will be great excitement when it is announced that Babe Bunce, the only baritone to loop the loop with a parachute, has been signed for two years by St. Petherick's at eighty-five thousand dollars per year.

I think an interesting variation could he had by letting the choir and the congregation remain on the ground and sending the minister up to jump. A somewhat windy day should be chosen, with shifting and variable winds, and the choir and congregation should be lined up. When the minister jumps, the organist should fire a pistol and everyone should run as fast as possible so as not to be late for the sermon, which the minister would begin as soon as he reached the ground. If the wind was shifty enough there would be quite a lot of excitement as the choir and congregation ran one way and another, trying to be at the spot where the sermon would begin. To add to the interest, a blue card might be given to those who managed to be on the spot when the sermon began. For ten blue cards thus won a red one would be given, and for ten red cards the holder would be given a yellow card. When anyone had thus won ten yellow cards, he would exchange them for a blue one and begin all over again, if nothing had happened to the minister.

I am not insisting that the blue cards he given first. If desired by a majority it would be all right to begin with -- let us say -- a red card. Whoever was on hand when the sermon began would then receive a red card, and when he had ten red cards he could exchange them for one yellow. Then when he had ten yellow cards he could exchange the ten yellows for a blue card, and when he had thus secured ten blue cards he could exchange them for a red card -- and so begin again. Or the cards could he green, purple, and pink. It does not matter much what color the cards are; the main thing is to keep the choir on the ground and let the minister who wants parachute-jumping do the parachute-jumping himself.

Good night, Mrs. Parker. It's been perfectly charming.



Saturday, October 07 at 1:12:43am USA Central
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