Choir leader Martha Paul was strict about punctuality, and it was an extremely rare occurrence for members to be late. On that particular night, however, all 15 people weren’t present. Typically, members arrived at the church at about 7:15 p.m. to prepare for practice, as reported by Snopes.
High school student Ladona Vandergrift was doing her homework before the practice, and she was having difficulty with one geometry problem. She was already running late, but she decided to finish her homework before heading to church. Two other high school girls were late because they wanted to finish listening to a radio show that ended at 7:30 p.m. The pianist wanted to get to church early, but she took a nap after dinner and was only awakened by her mother at 7:15 p.m.
Two other choir members couldn’t get their cars to start, which left them without a way to get to the church. Joyce Black, a stenographer, was feeling lazy that night and didn’t leave early as she usually did. She was getting ready to depart when the explosion happened. Harvey Ahl was at home taking care of his children as his wife was away. He thought about bringing his boys to choir practice, but he lost track of time. By the time he checked his watch, he was already late.