One of the challenges of singing at St. Joseph the Worker church was our inability to hear each other. Certainly for the sopranos at one end and the altos at the other, this was particularly true. When we were in the middle of a Bach fugue, we got out of sync and Arlene felt forced to stop us. For those who remember Arlene in her later years, she was hunchbacked and scrawny. She flung her arms up and out, her middle two fingers and thumbs splayed in the air and shouted “Stop!”
In all my choral years (I’ve been singing for over sixty of them now), I’d never had that happen. I found myself both mortified and with a deep urge to giggle–mortified for obvious reasons, but Arlene looked so like “Tricky Dick,” standing there with arms akimbo and fingers in “Vs” that I had to struggle not to burst out laughing. Of course, anyone less like Richard Nixon than Arlene would be hard to find, but the physical image was compelling.