Learning About the Veiled Prophet

The Senior Seminar this week was on the Veiled Prophet. This personage is purely a St. Louis icon. As luck would have it, I missed the first third of the talk because of having to take my sister to the labs for her blood work. She made the appointment later than we usually go and then the lab was 15 minutes late taking her. I was not pleased but there was nothing I could do about any of it.

I hurried as much as I could to get to the Seminar. Parking, of course, was an issue since I was late. No wonder parking was an issue — the audience was the largest one I’ve ever seen at one of these seminars. But I did find parking on the street instead of in the lot and managed to find a chair when I at last made it to the meeting room.

I wish I could have heard all of the talk. The woman who gave it was very knowledgable and had done lots of research. The Veiled Prophet organization was/is a secret society type thing. For many years, there was a ball and a parade. The local debutantes were presented to the Prophet at the ball. You were not invited to the ball; you were commanded to attend — if you were a member of the upper crust society in the city.

It was with a big grin that the speaker brought up some scandals attached to the organization. One of them I remember reading about in the newspaper. A woman who should not have been in the auditorium where the ball was held somehow got a ticket and got in there. She swung on a rope or cable and landed on the stage right by the Prophet. She reached up and pulled the heavy veil off his head. Of course, the security folks quickly got her out of there. The Prophet put his veil back on and it was “on with the show.”

Nowadays the organization has changed and become more civic minded. It has been integrated to some degree. I don’t know if they still have a ball or not. If they do, it is downplayed in the newspaper. The name has been changed and the big event is a fair held on the riverfront around July 4. The fair is called the VP Fair instead of the Veiled Prophet.

It was a most interesting program. I’d love it to be repeated somewhere so I could hear it in its entirety.

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