The Elevator Story

Type of post: Chorus news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Jan Hoffman
Status: Current
Date Posted: Tue, Apr 27 2021

From competition weekend, 4-29-94: 

The Rochester Chapter of Zumbro Valley Sweet Adelines headed off to Milwaukee for the annual region 22 chorus competition. 

Twenty-six members were in our chorus and we were all headquartered at the (old) Marc Plaza Hotel.  Our rooms were all on the 11 floor. 

At the assigned time on Saturday, we emerged from our rooms, all hair sprayed, powdered, blushed, and glittered.  Our feet encased in medieval torture shoes (designed by men, no doubt).

We assembled by the elevators waiting for a signal from our guide (this is big time stuff).  She was to lead us down the path to a photographer on the 5th floor and ultimately to the stage.

She gave the signal, we pushed the elevator button.  I ended up with 13 fellow chorus members, bosom to bosom to say the least! The elevator started and immediately stopped! Those in the front pushed buttons again, doors would not open, we felt it move up a floor.  Fearing the worst, with panic rising, rang bells, pushed buttons, pulled out an elevator phone with the cord hanging loose.  Our hope was fading fast, spirits sagging (among other things) but trying to present a calm exterior (most of us were mothers) sweating profusely in our unrelenting costumes, shoes and layers of makeup!

There were a few weak attemps at humor hoping no one would “lose it” as there wasn’t any room for anyone to faint and lay down.

One of the gals said very precisely, “I’m VERY claustrophobic you know”.  At that point we pretty much presented a united front of claustrophia.  She was the tallest one of us getting most of the air.   She loosened the ceiling panel, hoping for more air, I looked away as I didn’t want to see the cable. 

Remaining members now were in the photo room wondering where we were.  Two phrases float thru – “where are they” and the guide saying “I heard an elevator had stalled”.  What to do, we’re on a time schedule, we are #7 to sing, we can’t do it with 14 members missing!

Meanwhile, back on the elevator, all trying to keep in control because IF WE SURVIVE, you know we have to 2 songs on stage. 

Finally we hear men outside the door yelling “How many are on the elevator”?  We said 14, in which was replied, 14 is too many, that’s why you stalled!  What a comfort that was.  Someone from inside hollered back, “well open the door and some of us will get off”.

We had looked for the capacity (after the stall, of course) and found only 2400 pounds.  One member said quietly, “I suppose before this is over we’ll have to tell them how much each of us weigh’s!  We all groaned softly trying to conserve oxygen.  The men tried to pry the door open it didn’t give an bit. The men said “it will b

e a few minutes” and said it again several times.  They said we weren’t level and that was the problem.  We considered doing a mass shift but knowing what a problem choreography is for us, we tossed that one out.

My mind envisioned having to climb hither on yon cables, Indiana Jones style, with the possibility of snakes in a pit below and I knew I’d never measure up, so made up my mind to go down with the ship. 

Finally the doors opened, we had to step down a bit, we all floated out as tho one giant sweat ball.  We headed for the exit sign and started stomping down 7 flights of metal steps in our torture shoes and wobbled down the hall toward the photographer room.  Saw some ice water and drank as tho an oasis in a desert. 

Got on the risers for pictures and most got leg shakes and had to sit on the risers for a few minutes.  Shook and got teary as we tried hard to mind set for the stage.  We finally got pictures taken and the guide rushed us out to be bussed to a college for competition.  I have no memory of this ride, but I got there so it must have happened.  We went down a hallway near the stage, tried to shake out the knots, tried to joke feebly, filed on stage as tho in a dream, and saw 6 International Judges staring up at us.  I really wanted pity points but no one told the Judges what had happened to us.  We flew through the 2 songs, filed off, and went limp and drained. 

Later that night our chorus survivors and the curious wanted to gather to hear all of our stories.  We start reciting what we remember all saying in the elevator, each bringing another memory, we laugh hysterically, what a cleansing! 

We decided we were probably in there about 20 minutes, but remember, that is 5 hours in dog years (after all it was a “hairy” situation).

Songs being considered for competition next year are –

“Please Release”, “Don’t Fence Me In” or more likely “Operator, Operator, Get Me Jesus On The Line”


Written on the bus on the way home and put in our local news paper

By Shirley E Wilson

Sadly Shirley passed away this past year, she was truly a very fun lady to be around.