Growing Up Forty Nine by Courtney Abud
When I was about eight or nine years old, my parents announced that they had joined the Forty Niners Chorus. Every Sunday night, they said, we would need to be on our best behavior because that’s when they had practice—and my brother and I were coming along.
Practices took place in the auditorium of a nursing school in West Chester. I can’t recall the name, but I can recall the creepy feeling I had as my footsteps echoed down the empty hallway each week. Compared to the contents of the room, that echo was nothing. As one would expect from a nursing school, the classrooms neighboring the auditorium housed a number of teaching implements. Even today, I can picture the pull-down poster of the human anatomy with every organ and section of gut illustrated in great detail.
At the back of one classroom, there was a glass case filled with beady-eyed dolls donning nursing uniforms of various eras. My brother and I tried to avoid that room, lest the dolls attempted to steal our souls, however the allure of multi-colored chalk and an overhead projector won out in the end.
With rehearsals for the Christmas show beginning in October, my brother and I spent the weekends leading up to Halloween surrounded by brain illustrations and the impish dolls; all-the-while listening to the same holiday songs in the background, over and over and over again.
And we loved every minute of it.
Even with the creep factor in full force, we loved Sunday nights. We knew every song by heart. At break, they let us eat snacks. There were so many funny and talented individuals that would come say hello or tell us a new joke. When they needed kids in the show, we were center stage. Many years later, at my wedding, the Forty Niners in attendance blessed the meal by singing the common doxology.
Although we no longer practice at the nursing school (and thankfully so—Thorndale United Methodist Church is decidedly less creepy!), the Forty Niners still add a bit of wonder to my Sunday nights. In my four years as a singing member, we’ve covered the beautifully reverent to the downright silly. Nothing makes me happier than cracking jokes and singing songs to an audience full of moms, dads, and kids—all on their best behavior.
The photo above is my portrayal of Lucy from our 2012 spring show Cable Schmable. The Forty Niners Chorus will be performing our latest spring show starting in May! Visit 49erschorus.org for show times and locations. Additionally, we’re always looking for new members. Those interested should visit our website.