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Interview with Lenora Crouch

Crouch, Lenora B.
Sweatt, Jan
Date of Interview: 
Charlotte, NC; 1972 Billy Graham crusade; Shelby, NC; Henderson Law Firm; Law Building; adoption; Religion-South; Evangelistic work; Religious conversion.
Ms. Crouch recalls her experiences at the 1972 Billy Graham Crusade. She describes the emotional and spiritual tenor of the crusade. Ms. Crouch discusses her earliest memories of Rev. Billy Graham, including her first recollections of him as a emerging young evangelist and her chance meeting with the charismatic Graham at her place of work.
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC
Levine Museum of the New South, Billy Graham Series
Interview Audio: 
JS (Jan Sweatt): Interview with Lenora B. Crouch. Interviewer, Jan Sweatt. Regarding Billy Graham crusade in 1972. Ms. Crouch?
LC (Lenora Crouch): Yes. Good morning. Well, I remember going to the crusade in 1972, and I remember thinking this must be about the newest thing like heaven that I can imagine. There were just so many people there, and everybody just seemed to be of--, have the same spirit and same feeling. I didn't realize until about twenty-four years later that probably one thing that made it so special to me was the fact that my son that I had relinquished for adoption in 1954 was at that crusade also. And I had no earthly idea he was there. May have been sitting right beside me, who knows. But, it was just, just really a wonderful feeling just--. It was like everybody was just caught up in one big set of arms around the whole place. Yeah, I think my first memory about Billy was at about 1949. I was still home on my farm with my parents, up above Shelby. And I remember hearing all these radio stories about this fiery young evangelist that was filling up Madison Square Garden. And I think, if I'm correct, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and Trigger also participated in [Laughter] that crusade. And can I share one of my favorite personal stories?
JS: Please do.
LC: This probably is about my most personal memory. It was probably about 1960. I was single and worked as a legal secretary in the Law Building here in Charlotte. Being the only girl in the office, I kept my office door open because the elevator was right across from my office door. I'd get lonely, and that way I could at least see people getting on and off the elevator. [Pause] So that kind of kept, you know, from being so boring. And I had two attorney friends down at the end of the hall that got off the elevator one day, and as usual they said, "Good morning." And I didn't recognize the handsome young man with the golden curl falling down on his forehead. However he spoke his "Good morning" so charmingly that after the second day of that procedure, being as perceptive as I am, I assumed that my two attorney friends had informed this prince charming of my single marital status and that he at least wanted to invite me down for a cup of coffee. So my decision was made. If and when I saw him get off that elevator again, and I heard footsteps coming back up the hall from the Henderson law firm, I would be available. So sure enough here he came, and I was the first passenger on that elevator. Worked just like I had planned. Charlie Henderson turned to me and said, "Oh, by the way, Miss Bridges, I'd like you to meet Billy Graham. [Laughter] Didn't get invited for my cup of coffee, but you can believe I felt like he knew everything I had been thinking. And I'm really hoping that when the crusade comes to Charlotte in '96 that I can attend that crusade with my son. And that probably will be about my most special Billy Graham memory of all.
JS: Did you participate in the conversion in the '72 crusade?
LC: No, I did not. But I really have a feeling that that's where my son began his Christian walk, because he--. We were talking about the '96 crusade and about, you know, a lot of people would be there. And he said, "Well, probably some people will come and for one reason and be fooled as to the real reason they come."
JS: Um-hum.
LC: And I do know that right after that he ended up with a Christian singing group traveling for several years and singing, so--.
JS: So it did have an impact on him?
LC: Um-hum. Oh, yes. Uh-huh. Because one of my prayers all those years had been that if and when I found out who and where he was, he would be a Christian. And, and he very definitely is, so--.
JS: Can you describe more fully some of the feelings? What it was like. Was it the singing that--? Was it the message Billy Graham was giving? Was it just the common purpose of people getting together? What was it that made it so special?
LC: I think rea--. I don't think, really, you could single out any one of those things. I think it was, it was just a presence, and all of those things together. [Pause] And I don't think it's Billy's message necessarily, except I think that's the message that God intends for him to deliver. I don't know if anybody else could get up and give the same message and it have the same impact.
JS: Um-hum.
LC: But it was just, it was just all of it together.
JS: Um-hum.
LC: It was just an electrified feeling. And I, and I really--. I personally think it was just the spirit of God in charge of everything.
JS: That's wonderful.
LC: Um-hum.