Tuesday, March 31, 2020


“Call Night”

 Call Night – May 10, 1970. To quote President Roosevelt, “A date which will live in infamy”. After four years of college we approached the event that changed Nancy and my life forever- Call Night.      Call night is the night during which all eligible teaching candidates hope to receive a teaching position. A committee tries to match congregational needs with the available candidates based on interviews of all perspective candidates. Sort of like the NFL draft. Draft the best talent when your turn comes up. Anticipation was high that evening but so was the concern. This was due to that fact that this year more candidates were available than were positions.     This was an exciting prospect. The Procedure was referred to as the “cattle call”. Students proceeded to the front. Received their envelope with the call documents in it and returned to their seat. Where the candidate would unceremoniously  rip open their envelopes to see where God has place them. This was referred to as the “Divine Call”.    Now in my case, God apparently had a sense of humor. The girl on my left received a call to Hawaii and the girl on my right receive a call to the International School in Hong Kong. Bursting with anticipation I opened my envelope. Now crazy thoughts went through  my mind at that moment. A call to the Virgin Islands? Tahiti? Never mind the fact  that there were no Lutheran schools in the Virgin Islands or Tahiti. My imagination was running wild. I looked at my call documents and there, in bold letters, were the two words “Chester, Illinois”. Oh well, not Hawaii, or any other exotic location. A thought crossed my mind  at that moment and  fortunately it remained unspoken, “Where in the hell is Chester, Illinois”. Nancy and I had been hoping for a call in the Chicagoland area. I had done my student teaching at St. Phillips and would have liked a call there. If not there perhaps a suburb of Chicago like Schaumberg or Arlingtion Heights. No one around me had ever heard of Chester, Illinois. I began to worry.    As the program came to a close Nancy and I went out to our car and rifled through the glove box for the   map  of Illinois. Ah ha! Shoved behind the old napkins and other junk was the map. Pulling it out and spreading it out on the hood of my car we began to search. Finding nothing in the suburban Chicago area, we expanded our search into an ever widening circle. We began to explore the southern Illinois area, which everyone in the Chicagoland area considered to be Springfield. Again nothing. We expanded our search farther south to what was considered the unexplored area of   true southern Illinois.  Our search was over. There it was, a tiny little dot along the Mississippi River about 70 miles south of St. Louis – Chester. Nancy began to cry. My wife was a homebody and had not travelled any great distance from Chicago and was very reluctant to leave her family and be banished to the hinterland known as Chester, which upon some research we found was known for two things, Menard State Penitentiary and for being the “Home of Popeye”.  I don’t even like Popeye.

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