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Thursday, July 10, 2014

What a difference a letter makes!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The article I wrote for last week's paper didn't have too many errors in it that I could find. But I had it ready to send to the editor when I noticed one slight error that could have made a big difference. Instead of inviting the public to come to the Meet Me in Missouri presentation and sing along with the cast, I suggested they might want to come sin along. Thankfully I caught the error in time.

I want my writing to be humorous but I sure didn't intend to reflect on any of my friends in the cast, and certainly not on Marsha Martin. This near miss made me think back to other times when my fingers put new meanings into intended words.

I did much of Lester's typing while he was in Seminary and just home for the weekend. In those two and a half days I always typed the Sunday Church Bulletin, often typed a paper for some class, and did any other paper work for the congregation.

The Methodist denomination (the correct name in 1962 when Lester began his ministry) had quarterly meetings with the District Superintendent where all the statistics of membership, attendance, and donations were reviewed. We were a little nervous when we had the first one of these, even though the District Superintendent, Ed Neimeyer, was a good friend.

As we compiled the statistics for the meeting I noticed that there were a few less members on the rolls than in the previous report. We knew the reason for the slight decline and I wanted to be sure that reason was recorded. Therefore I started the report by saying, "Although our membership has dripped slightly…". In spite of careful proofreading I hadn't realized my error until some of our new friends greeted me at the meeting by asking, "When did we become Baptists?" I still didn't understand their kidding until my error was pointed out. I consoled myself that the mistake lightened the mood of the meeting with a laugh at my expense.

When I told some of my minister-wife friends of my mistake, I heard several other typos that were funny -- later on. My favorite is the one where the Hymn chosen was "Stand Up O Men of God" and following it was the instruction to the congregation to "Please remain seated".

That mistake was not a misused letter. The following are other examples of one letter making the difference. One newsletter urged members of the congregation to be friendlier to visitors and to be sure and say "Hell" to them when they meet. Another offered an invitation for all to come help a "sappy" couple celebrate their anniversary.

Perhaps the most common error continues to be leaving the "g" off of the word "sing," and it also provokes the most laughs.

An outdoor warship service being planned suggested that those attending might want to bring blankets so they could be comfortable on the ground during the sinning which would follow the worship.

Notices about those on the prayer list can cause concern. This is especially true if we are being asked to "pay for the successful outcome of a member's surgery."

Just to see how good you readers are at proofreading, I deliberately made one mistake. Did you find it?

I'll be embarrassed if you find more than one!

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus