Woman Mistakenly Escorted to the Choir Loft at 1970’s General Conference
Now this is priceless! In a documentary titled Temple Square, produced by Salt Lake City PBS station KUED, Anna Joy Watts details how her last minute plans to attend a session of General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led to a once in a lifetime experience.
After receiving tickets for General Conference in the early 1970’s, Watts planned to stay home and watch on T.V. but changed her mind at the last minute. “I started getting a guilty conscience so I changed clothes quickly, left my apartment—I had fifteen minutes to get in the Tabernacle. I went through the south gate, turned left to Seagull Monument, turned right down the sidewalk toward the Tabernacle. I saw an usher beckoning me to come faster, faster and I thought ‘oh that’s strange, there’s a whole line of people there wanting to get into the Tabernacle for conference.’ That usher pushed me in the door, gave me to two other ushers, one on each arm, they whisked me up the stairs to the balcony. I got to the top and they gave me to another usher and he got in front of me and took my hand, pulled me in front of him and shoved me into a chair. And as I sat down, I looked around—I was in a Choir seat,” laughed Watts.
“And then I noticed that the women in the Choir were wearing light blue blouses…. and that’s what I had on.” Continuing to laugh about the odd circumstance she found herself in, Watts smiled, “And then we were ready to sing so I went along with it and I sang with the Choir that once.”
“My next thoughts were in panic mode! What should I do now? Get up and move? Where would I go? Sit there and mouth the words? Sing along the best I could? What would I do for music? As all these thoughts were racing through my head, the opening hymn by the choir and the opening prayer were being announced; and the introductory organ prelude started playing. The choir was ready to sing. The dear lady next to me begrudgingly pushed her copy of the music in front of me to share. I gave her a sheepish smile and held onto my side of the music folder. Fortunately, I had sung in church and school choirs since the age of thirteen – so I was familiar with the music they used that day. At the end of the meeting, I explained to my music provider what had happened, and we had a good laugh together.”
The Temple Square filmmaker, Isaac Goeckeritz, whose wife and mother are currently a members of the Orchestra at Temple Square, said that he and his wife met Anna at an extended family reunion on the east coast. “The family held a convention in Salt Lake City a couple years ago. After the family attended Music & the Spoken Word on Temple Square, we had a short devotional where Anna shared her story about singing with the choir. Following the reunion, we kept in touch and included her story in the film,” said Goeckeritz. “It was a fun challenge to find footage to represent the session Anna sang at. We are not sure if it is the exact one, but it’s pretty close. Anna remembered that the women in the choir were wearing blue blouses. For many years the woman sang in a mustard yellow outfit, so we went through several years of General Conference sessions to find when the women started wearing the new outfit.”
Watch a video of the making of Temple Square documentary.