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Interview with Rosemary Lands

Interviewee: 
Lands, Rosemary
Interviewer: 
Elderidge, Rachel
Date of Interview: 
1996-04-08
Identifier: 
MULA0010
Subjects: 
Charlotte, NC; Civil rights; Billy Graham crusade; Charlotte Coliseum; Ovens Auditorium; Religion-South; Race relations and religion; Independence Blvd; Merchants and religion; Religion-youth; Prayer meetings; Religious revivals; Religious conversion; Chantilly Elementary School; Chantilly neighborhood; Evangelical work; Women and religion; Public transportation
Abstract: 
Long-time Charlottean Rosemary Lands discusses her and her family`s experiences with the 1958 Billy Graham Crusade in Charlotte, N.C. In addition to detailing the planning and community involvement prior to the crusade, Ms. Lands describes the tenor and activities of the actual crusade services themselves. She talks about what she sees as the long-term emotional and spiritual impact of the crusades on the Greater Charlotte community. In addition, she addresses the role of women in Southern religion and the degree in which community institutions and leadership reflected strong religious values.
Coverage: 
1940s-1950s
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library, Charlotte, NC
Collection: 
Levine Museum of the New South, Billy Graham Series
Collection Description: 
The first six lines of this oral history are not recorded on the original tape. However , this portion of the interview does appear in this transcript, as it was taken from an existing written transcript of the interview. The beginning of the tape-recorded portion of the interview is indicated by an asterisk.
Interview Audio: 
Transcript:
RL (Rosemary Lands): Is Rosemary Lands.
RE (Rachel Elderidge): OK.
RE: And are you from Charlotte?
RL: I came to Charlotte when I was about eight months old.
RE: And where did your family move from?
RL: Spartanburg. They--. South Carolina. [RECORDING INTERUPTED] [RECORDING RESUMES] *They were in Spartanburg during World War II.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: My mother was. And then we moved to Charlotte when the war was over, and my father was released and came to work in Charlotte.
RE: OK. [RECORDING INTERRUPTED] [RECORDING RESUMED]
RE: This is Rachel. [Pause] This is Rachel Elderidge. This--. It`s echoing me. How strange. OK. Let`s turn that up a little bit. This is Rachel Elderidge. This interview is for the Museum of the New South in preparation for the exhibit on Billy Graham. Can I have you say your name again?
RL: My name is Rosemary Lands.
RE: And I understand that you went to the Crusade in 1958?
RL: Yes, that`s right.
RE: And could you describe it to me?
RL: Yes. I was twelve years old at the time.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And because Billy Graham was from the Charlotte area and probably because of the, the way that their, their organization works, there`s a great deal of, of prior publicity about the crusade. We lived in walking distance of the Charlotte Coliseum,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: which is now the Charlotte Arena. It was a fairly new place then and so it was--. The Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium were still, still very new facilities, and people were really excited about that too. We started hearing about the crusade weeks ahead of time, and there was a lot of publicity in the area.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They actually went into the neighborhoods, drove up and down the street and stopped. I remember one particular incident. One of the things that they did was to have block prayer meetings all over the city. Their aim was to have on every block people praying for the crusade, and it didn`t matter what denomination. They didn`t ask what denomination you were.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They simply stopped on your street, asked if you would, you would have the prayer meeting in your home. And once a week, I think it was, if you would have the prayer meeting in your home and then signed you up. They had what they called captains on each block. My mother--. I remember we were playing in the yard, and back then most mothers were at home.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: So it was, it was a little bit different atmosphere. We were playing in the yard, and a lady just stopped and said- she had identification on her car-and stopped and said she was a crusade worker. I think the crusade had not started yet. She was an advanced, part of the advance personnel. And she stopped and said she was signing up people for each block. And she asked my--. She got out and asked my mother if she would be a captain for her block, have prayer meetings every week during the crusade. And a neighbor was standing there with her, and she signed her up as my mother`s lieutenant. And so the two of them had prayer meeting from just, just from that chance meeting
RE: Um-hum.
RL: they agreed to have prayer meetings in their house once a week during the crusade, which turned out ran, I think, about five weeks. I think it was servs--. We didn`t know how long it was going to run then. It was a sort of hold over from week to week type thing.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I think maybe it was a commitment for two weeks, or something like that. I, I honestly don`t remember. But I do remember that it was being held over. And each time that they, they were going to have their meeting, my friend and I, the daughter of the lady who was, was in this with my, or signed up with my mother, we`d trudge up and down our block handing out notices to everybody.
RE: Uh-huh. Being pressed into service.
RL: Yeah, and the interesting thing was denomination was never mentioned. I, I never heard anybody say, "Well, goodness, we`re, you know, something else, we wouldn`t be caught dead at that thing." It was just an assumption that everybody was going.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: The woman didn`t ask anything about church affiliation or if we had ever seen a church, she just--.
RE: OK.
RL: Stopped and got out with her literature.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And there was no offense taken by, you know, people who apparently who were, were asked. They were just, you know, pleased to be asked and, and people came to those prayer things on every block.
RE: How many people would come to your house? Was it, roughly--?
RL: Oh, I would guess probably seven, eight. We were in school--.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Of course, during this time. This was, this was in the morning--.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And, you know, whatever number, it--. But it was a good, you know,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: living room full
RE: Um-hum.
RL: of people. And when you consider this going on on every block in the city--.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It was a much smaller city then, but this, this was a, a rather interesting thing.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: It, it didn`t seem at all out of the ordinary then.
RE: Were these mostly women who came to the prayer meetings?
RL: Yes, well these were the mothers that were at home--.
RE: During the day.
RL: And this was a time when we all, from that neighborhood, we all walked to Chantilly. This was before city and county schools were consolidated.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: So there were no school buses
RE: Um-hum.
RL: in the city. We walked to Chantilly. Everybody walked. Everybody--. There were very few mothers who were not home during the day.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It was, it was sort of unusual. A, a working mother was sort of unusual back then. And all of the mothers that I knew, except for maybe one or two, were at home.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I don`t know--. I, I guess they didn`t have evening prayer meetings. I,--. They, they wouldn`t have since they were having the crusades.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But the assumption was that you were certainly going if you possibly could be, every, every night that you could. I seem to remember that it started on a Sunday.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I know it was, there was big kickoff.
RE: Right.
RL: So it must have started on a weekend,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: like an afternoon or something, and I, and I honestly can`t, can`t tell you. But it, I, I seem to remember that it was a Sunday afternoon or something like that that they started the, you know, with the kickoff for it.
RE: The publicity you, you saw, were these radio ads or newspaper ads?
RL: It was radio, it was newspaper. It was, it was a big media event probably before the term "media event" was,
RE: Right.
RL: was coined. It was--. The interesting thing looking back on it, it seemed perfectly natural at the time, and, and I never heard anyone comment that it wasn`t perfectly natural.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Even, you know, to the adults.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: In addition to there not being any real discussion of denomination, and, and I`m saying that coming from a Protestant background.
RE: Right.
RL: Outside of, outside of that denomination, there may have been plenty.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: I mean outside of that atmosphere, there may have been plenty of discussion about it, but in, in my little world, which, which wasn`t, wasn`t very wide,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: there, there didn`t seem to be any discussion of what religion he was, of what, of his religious views. It was just people were so excited because he was from Charlotte. And Charlotte was not a terribly well-known town then.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: He was from Charlotte. He was the ultimate hometown boy made good, who`d made good. And the fact that he lived outside of town did not bother people
RE: [Laughter]
RL: one bit. They, they, [Laughter] they, annexed him way before they annexed the rest of, of the county.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But our teachers, were--. It was, it was, it was something that, that everybody was talking about. All of our teachers were going.
RE: OK.
RL: And it was back in a day when your teacher, on Friday afternoon, told you to go to church over the weekend.
RE: Really? Yeah.
RL: When, when social values were a little different. I mean when teachers were a little different
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: in their, their social values. But I very well remember teachers in elementary school telling us to go to--. That they were certainly going to church and hope we were going to church and Sunday school over the weekend.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And just thinking of that is the same thing as saying, "I hope you are going to pick up your room tonight." It was a, it was a, it was a behavioral thing.
RE: Right.
RL: I, I--. We knew all, but, but we knew our teachers were going. Our teachers talked about it.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I don`t remember any teacher who didn`t talk about it. [Pause] You saw your doctors, your dentists taking up collection.
RE: OK.
RL: It was a very egalitarian
RE: Um-hum.
RL: thing. The hospital brought nurses by the busload, and they sat in reserved seats. They would bring--. But organizations would come by blocks. They would bring, you would see huge blocks of nurses sitting together. Huge blocks of, you know, people that had come together. You know, almost the way you would seat honorary pallbearers. People, you know,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: brought organizations together. And I don`t want to say this without being, without having seen it in print. I do remember though that, that buses ran--. That there was constant discussion--. You know, the buses running from the Square. People depended very much on buses back then.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RE: But, the bus, they ran special buses, and I, I believe that these organizations usually came on these, you know, a lot of time, on special buses; not school buses, but city buses
RE: Um-hum.
RL: were used for this. Back then, eve--. There were not that many cars, but people certainly, they were certainly, it was certainly a parking lot full of people.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I know my mother spoke of it being, you know, one of the first big traffic jams she`d ever been in, and having to really fight a huge, huge
RE: Um-hum.
RL: mass of traffic.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: You know, with the policeman telling them to go one way and close up the gap and things like that.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It was, it was the biggest--. Probably one of the biggest traffic jams we`d had here.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: But, you know, there was plenty of parking and on during the day when things were going on during the day--. And even at night, we could walk over and somebody could pick us up. Our parents didn`t go every single night, but my girlfriend and I-about three of us-went every night.
RE: Really?
RL: And [Pause] it was sort of--. At that age, we were sort of groupies.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Because I think, we were, we were very dazzled by the fact that this, this world-wide person was there.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And that, that`s not to take away from his, his religious impact at all. But he was an extremely charismatic person.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And that, you know, that, that was very, very evident.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I remember the very first, I guess, probably the very first day when he`d made his altar call, I went.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: All of my friends went. I didn`t even know that at the time. We were all seated with our parents.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But the crowds of people. The emotional impact when you`re actually on site--. On television I don`t think it`s as strong, but the emotional impact of people getting up is absolutely electric in those things.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And night after night to see it. When it`s a one time thing and, and it happens, but when it happens night after night after night, and these are not hysterical people throwing themselves down the aisle. They are the people you`ve been with all your life.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Now, admittedly, I didn`t know any people who were in dire straits spiritually, that I knew of. I mean, they were pretty average people.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But when you see these people getting up and trekking down. And if you`ve been in the Charlotte Coliseum, it`s
RE: Um-hum.
RL: from the nose bleed section to the front of this place, it was as if all barriers had fallen
RE: Um-hum.
RL: between people.
RE: OK.
RL: It didn`t matter if it was your handyman. It didn`t matter if it was your minister, your doctor; they were all there, and they were all being pulled down.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It was a very interesting thing. I guess I`ve tried to intellectualize it over the years because, in psychology of religion, they, they tell you that those are twelve and I guess, about fifteen or twenty, are the peak years
RE: Um-hum.
RL: for spiritual conversion.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Especially for girls.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: That those are very, that those are years that are, are very, that youngsters are very apt to have a very strong spiritual experience.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But there were no--. And, and so I, you know, I guess I had thought about that.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Because we were just, just extremely into this.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: As I say, there was, there was no charismatic activity going on. There were no, there was no speaking in tongues. People were not throwing themselves down. Nobody was, was, you know, slain, or in the spirit, or things
RE: Um-hum.
RL: that you, you associate with charismatic
RE: Right.
RL: revivals now. In fact, I remember one day, some woman up in the upper reaches
RE: Um-hum.
RL: screaming, " Hallelujah!" in the middle of one of his, of Billy Graham`s sermons, and he stopped and looked up at her. He was absolutely terrified. I mean, he looked absolutely dumbfounded. And it really threw him.
RE: Really?
RL: And, and so he apparently was not used to this sort of thing at all. You know, to that type of response. It was just a very, you know--. That was not his background.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: So, but I know that people talked about that, and were, kind of, amused at, at--. And there was no follow up to it; nobody dragged her out or anything like that.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But it, it struck him as abnormal behavior apparently.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: And it, you know, it was, it was out of sync with the rest of that, that crusade.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I think people probably made a lot of friends at those, at that, that thing.
RE: Really?
RL: I don`t know--. I don`t mean friends that they didn`t have before, but, you know, it, it was real, sort of binding of the community.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: People really worked together. The police officers, the firemen, everybody worked together to, to take turns.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: People all took turns going. Took turns, you know, letting each other off for things like that. It was a, there was a--.
RE: From work you`re saying? Letting each other off from work?
RL: Yeah. They didn`t close down work, but I mean, you know, people were very anxious to let each other, you know, go to these things.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And, it was not like, "You won`t believe what`s going on over there," it was just everybody knew what was going on over there.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: And it was, it was not like something that was unexpected. I think it was just, it just snowballed.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It went for two weeks. They couldn`t bear to let it go. Then went to three weeks. They couldn`t bear to let it go. They went for four weeks. They couldn`t let, let it go, and it just kept--.
RE: Huh.
RL: They just kept renewing it. I mean there were--. I, I, I think people would have been happy if he`d stayed forever. It was, it was unbelievable, because everybody was just breathlessly waiting to see if they could hold it over for another week. And everything was being, you know, everything was being put aside for this, for this crusade. That you know, it was like people were getting a, a glimpse of the promise land or something.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: And, he was, he was not that--. He was not a wild, a wild minister.
RE: Um-hum. So it was the demand from the community. That the people going wanted him to stay?
RL: Very much wanting him to stay.
RE: Rather than him deciding to stay--.
RL: I think he--.
RE: Because his work wasn`t done, as he would say?
RL: No, I, I don`t think he felt that way. I think that he was--. I think that probably--. My take on this, on this organization
RE: Um-hum.
RL: is that they go by response.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Community response. As long as he was filling out both the Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium, which was an interesting thing. Those that couldn`t get in were sitting over in Ovens Auditorium.
RE: And they could hear him?
RL: Yeah.
RE: OK.
RL: In fact one--. I, I remember one time in particular-and they probably did this more than once. But the very first day I think it was, Ovens was full.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Everything was--. That everybody that could--. And they had a television set up over there.
RE: OK. So you could watch him also?
RL: It was--. I think that was--. I, I`m not even sure, and I know they had the sound. I`m even sure back in `58 that they did, that they had, had--.
RE: Closed circuit.
RL: T.V. But, they had--. I know that they were so creative. They had this song that they sang, that had respon--. The--. Cliff Barrows was the music director.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: And he had--. He would always have people singing back and forth
RE: OK.
RL: on things. I remember there was one "Hallelujah Thine the Glory". It was "Revive Us Again", is the name of the song.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And he would have the, the Coliseum sang "Hallelujah Thine the Glory" and Ovens, and Ovens Auditorium respond with "Revive Us Again". You could hear them, and he would have each side sing a verse.
RE: OK.
RL: Things like that to pull both
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: groups into the, into the meeting. So it was, it was that sort of thing. It was--. Someone asked me about, about admission price. There was no admission. There were tickets
RE: Um-hum.
RL: simply because they had to have some idea of how many people were going to be there.
RE: Right.
RL: And so they did give out tickets to it.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But it was--. This was free. Now they took up collection every night.
RE: Right.
RL: And they would just come up and down the aisles with baskets and, you know.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: There was not that much emphasis, oddly enough on, you know, they wouldn`t say you haven`t given enough or anything like that.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: But they did take collection. And everybody knew, of course, that money was needed to keep the thing going.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But business heads were very anxious to help out. This was a time though when Charlotte was--. Most of the businesses were very religious people.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: J. B. Ivey, Ivey`s was still downtown.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: This was very soon after Mr. Ivey would even open his- and I`m not sure that he had at that time. He was the son of a Methodist circuit rider, if I remember.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: He kept his, he kept his drapes on his store closed on Sunday to keep people from shop, from window shopping.
RE: OK. Even outside?
RL: Because he felt, yeah, he felt that it would be the same as doing business.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: He would not sell cocktail glasses
RE: Um-hum.
RL: or even cocktail napkins, anything that could be used with an alcoholic beverage in his store.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: This was a time when W. T. Harris owned Harris Teeter.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Or what was, what`s now Harris Teeter.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: When W. T. Harris would not allow anything that could be used as a mixer to be sold, let alone alcohol beverages, in, in Harris stores.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And as long as he was, he controlled Harris stores.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: That, that--. And this was an accepted thing in the commun--. I mean, that was just what everybody knew, that, that these people`s religious views were very strongly injected into their businesses.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: So these were the--. The, the Belk`s were very strong Baptist.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: This was something that everybody knew. That the, the people who ran the major grocery store, I mean the major grocery store in town. People that ran the, the two, only two
RE: Um-hum.
RL: department stores at that, or major-well there were other department stores, but they didn`t-major department stores across the street from each other
RE: Um-hum.
RL: at that time downtown were deeply religious people.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And that their views were deeply reflected in their, their stores.
RE: Right.
RL: So this was sort of an accepted thing in the community.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum. How would you get tickets to go?
RL: I believe--. Now I was trying--. That`s one reason I was thinking about checking that
RE: Um-hum.
RL: on micro--. Now I, I know that my mother had tickets. They were given to the, to the--.
RE: Block captains.
RL: Block captains. I imagine they were given out at the churches.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Because the churches were very deeply--. And that`s, that`s an interesting point, too.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: The churches were all very deeply involved in this.
RE: Right.
RL: When the ministers were all very excited about this.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: One of the interesting things about Billy Graham is that he doesn`t say, "Join up with my group."
RE: Right.
RL: He says, "Let me get you into a local church."
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It doesn`t matter what the, the local church is.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: And then he follows up to be sure you have gone.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: He contacts the church.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Or his organization contacts the church, which is a little unusual.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Because, you know, so many of the things want to keep channeling your money into their
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: organization. But his thrust, and probably the reason he`s so wide--, well accepted by the ministerial associations, is that he wants to channel people into a church.
RE: Right.
RL: And so the ministers when you would go down to the front and, for this altar call
RE: Um-hum.
RL: they take the people--. If you`ve ever noticed, they take the people back
RE: Um-hum.
RL: off after the service. They take them away to another area to, to talk with counselors.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And there were little tables set up everywhere.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: These were ministers.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: A lot of--. Some of the people were there own, own staff they brought with them.
RE: OK.
RL: But a lot of them were area ministers that had volunteered
RE: Um-hum.
RL: and had trained for this ahead of time.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And so what they were doing was finding out had you been--. Were you now connected with a church.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: If you were not connected--. Of course, we were connected with a church
RE: Right.
RL: that we were brought up in one church all our lives.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Everybody in the neighborhood went to the same church, you know, but they were saying, you know, "Do you belong to a church? Who is your minister? We`ll get in touch with your minister and be sure that you get," you know,
RE: Um-huh.
RL: "If you don`t belong to a church, we`re going to get you connected with one. And what`s your denomination? Where does your family go?"
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: That sort of thing.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They weren`t trying to change anyone from being Methodist to Presbyterian or, you know, something like that. They, they simply wanted people in a church.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And so that--. And they followed up on, with, with letters afterward.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They, they wrote the church that, that you had indicated.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And if you had not indicated, they helped you find--. They would call a minister over and he would talk with you.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: So that was the, the, the way that they went, went at it.
RE: And were the churches bringing people? Would whole churches kind of sit together at--?
RL: They would--. They were certainly, there were certainly a lot of people from the same church that went.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I am sure--. Now our church didn`t have church buses or anything like that. We were all in walking--. Oddly enough, that probably was one of the closest churches to this Coliseum site.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: Now it would be quite a long walk, but back then people would think nothing of walking over.
RE: Which church is this?
RL: This was Commonwealth Methodist.
RE: OK. Was it on Commonwealth Avenue?
RL: Yes it is.
RE: OK.
RL: And at that time, Independence Boulevard was much smaller.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: In fact, it had not been many years since it had been--. It had not been ten years then
RE: Um-hum.
RL: since it had been widened. It had
RE: OK.
RL: it was, it was--. Let`s see--. Morton, let`s see, Westmoreland--.
RE: OK.
RL: Street.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It didn`t have dividers
RE: Um-hum.
RL: at that time.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: We rode our bicycles across it all the time. It had not been many years since cars parked on Independence Boulevard.
RE: OK.
RL: Parallel parked.
RE: So, it was--? Was it a four-lane road at the time or--?
RL: I think it was a four-lane road,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: but it was--. Yeah, it was probably four-lane.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It certainly wasn`t, wasn`t six lanes.
RE: Right.
RL: But, it was a, you know, it was a, it was a busy street.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But it was certainly a street that pe--, that children crossed
RE: Um-hum.
RL: all the time.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And the traffic wasn`t that heavy.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But we lived in the Chantilly area, and we walked to the Coliseum for anything. And we walked home from Commonwealth at night.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Children did.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: You know, they walked over. We`d walk home, you know, in pitch darkness.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And there just wasn`t that much crime in this area.
RE: Right. So--. Had you been to anything at the Coliseum before the crusade?
RL: Yes. I guess because we lived so close.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: We were at the Coliseum when they opened it.
RE: Um-hum. OK
RL: For the dedication of the Coliseum in Ovens.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And that was a--. In fact, as I think about it, I seem to think he may have been there for that.
RE: Oh, OK.
RL: I`m not sure. I`d like to check that.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Because I, I seem to think he may have come for that.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But I--. Yes, I had been--. I had--. The Coliseum was the only thing there was to have any thing of any size.
RE: Right.
RL: But that was, that was fairly early in the Coliseum`s
RE: Um-hum.
RL: existence I think. This--.
RE: Um-hum. I`m just wondering, what else was there that twelve-year-olds could go by themselves without their parents to do at that time? You and me talked about you went every night, but your parents didn`t go as often.
RL: Well they didn`t go absolutely every night because my mother had three younger children.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: What else was there to do for twelve-year-olds?
RE: Right.
RL: Well we had just gotten our first store at the--. Just a few blocks down at the old Coliseum Shopping Center.
RE: OK.
RL: Up until then, there had only been Westover.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: The little one-room general store
RE: Um-hum.
RL: to, to go to. And you could go and get bread, and they had an old candy counter.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And this sounds like I`m a 110 old, but this
RE: No.
RL: this was the store, up in--. It was on Westover--.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Street. And anytime you needed anything, unless you really wanted to go to Harris Teeter,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: you walked up or rode your bike up to Birch.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Most of the time, they would, they would pick us up
RE: Um-hum.
RL: from, from the crusade.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But very often, we would walk over
RE: Um-hum.
RL: to it. And we--. Yes, we did walk over to, during the day we walked over the Coliseum.
RE: What would be happening during the day?
RL: Well, they had the circus there.
RE: OK.
RL: They--. Everything that, that, that happened at all was held at the Coliseum just about.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They had--. Let`s see, that predated the trade shows.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They had rodeos.
RE: OK.
RL: Just anything, anything
RE: Right.
RL: that was of any size at all was there.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: At that time, the Ovens Auditorium was absolutely the most beautiful thing anybody had ever seen.
RE: Really?
RL: Looking back, it was kind of gaudy, [Laughter] but it was absolutely beautiful. But, and I, you know, I remember the day that opened.
RE: Uh-huh. Would they hold concerts and things like that at the Auditorium?
RL: That was the home of the Charlotte Symphony.
RE: Oh, OK. Um-huh.
RL: The--. And the symphony was a very big deal to us then.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: Back in, in, many years ago- and I think this predates the Ovens Auditorium- was the Charlotte Symphony had its own television
RE: Um. OK.
RL: show once a week.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And they`d always, you know--. For those of us that took music it was, it was exciting because many of our teachers were, were members of the symphony.
RE: OK. Um-hum.
RL: So, we, we enjoyed that.
RE: While the crusade was going on, was there anything else happening in town? Were there other events going on? Or did sort of everything fall away?
RL: I don`t remember, I don`t remember anything else that was going on, except school
RE: OK.
RL: during that time.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Yeah, I`m sure there were many things going on.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But for a twelve-year-old, you know, your life is, is fairly small
RE: Um-hum.
RL: world.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: And it pretty much revolves around school and, and
RE: Um-hum.
RL: what`s happening at home, and anything else that you, you, you`re doing. But world events were not too important to me at that point.
RE: You said that he wasn`t a wild preacher? What would he--? How was he when he was up on the--?
RL: He was forceful.
RE: He--. OK.
RL: He, he was forceful but comparing him now, I see that he was, he was quite sedate.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: He was very entertaining. The thing that we enjoyed of course was hearing stories about his days in Charlotte.
RE: OK.
RL: One of his favorite stories was--. And this was, they had once a week, they had youth night
RE: OK.
RL: where they emphasized young people. I would say every night was youth night because so many young people were,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: were involved in it. But is was--. And it was a time when there were huge church youth organizations in Charlotte.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: The Methodist youth organization was tremendous. They had districts, sub-district.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Every church had a, had a very large youth group so there were a lot of young people around.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And this is, at, at this point, this is, this is the twelve-year-old baby boom rolling through.
RE: Right.
RL: This was the, the, the crowd that rolled through in each year that they rolled through, and as they roll--. And, and I remember this very well, that as they rolled through the grades
RE: Um-hum.
RL: another teacher was added.
RE: OK.
RL: Each, each year that this
RE: Um-hum.
RL: this swell
RE: Um-hum.
RL: came, came, got, got a year older
RE: Um-hum.
RL: that, that grade, another teacher would have to be added on very often. So there were a lot of young people to choose from or to, to--.
RE: Participate in all this.
RL: Participate in these things. But one thing that he enjoyed telling was, and things that we could connect Um-hum. Um-hum.
RL: to Charlotte, was that he was a very wild boy.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And what we realized later and, you know, as we reflected on it, was that wild for him- I mean, his standard of wild- was sort of less than what you would think of today.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But he told about riding into town with his friends in a [Pause] I, I guess, a convertible waving a cow bell
RE: Um-hum.
RL: and getting to the Square, and the policeman telling him he couldn`t make a u-turn. And he said, but, you know, we could and did. So they made a u-turn on the Square. So his idea of the wildest thing he had ever done, I suppose,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: was to make a u-turn on the Square. And this is something that played very well in the hometown.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Because everybody knew where the Square
RE: Right.
RL: was and, you know, I guess everybody`s fantasy is to make a u-turn on the Square, but [Laughter].
RE: To stop traffic
RL: Yeah.
RE: and to annoy the policeman.
RL: Well he was--. This was late at night and he just, you know, riding through being wild
RE: Um-hum.
RL: and, and crazy. And so he--. These are things that connected
RE: Um-hum.
RL: very well at home.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It also, you know, illustrated to children that he was not somebody who had been anointed from infancy
RE: Um-hum.
RL: and had just, you know, cruised through life with a halo on his head.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: So this, this did very well with young people.
RE: Right. What else would they do at, at the meetings? Would there--? I mean you mentioned Cliff Barrows would sing and lead singing, and Billy Graham would speak--.
RL: Well, of course, Barrows would lead singing. Beverly Shea--. They had a very predictable organization.
RE: OK.
RL: It was almost like a, a regular church service.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They, they took, they took this huge choir from the local churches.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And so they, and this took a tremendous amount of dedication.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It was one thing for people to go every night that they could get there.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But for a choir to show up every night--.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And most of them certainly did. It was a huge choir. They took entire section.
RE: A couple of hundred people you think?
RL: You know, I`m, I`m not a good judge of numbers but it was--. I, I, I am judging by the size of the, by the--. It was the end. If you look at the end of the Coliseum,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: it was that whole section
RE: OK.
RL: behind, behind him. And so I`m, I`m not at all a good judge of numbers, but that, but just at the amount of space they took up.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But, these, this, this choir was full every night.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And the dedication that that took is, is tremendous. Now, I certainly can`t say that the same people, to a man,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: every night,
RE: Yeah.
RL: but they certainly were, were very
RE: Um-hum.
RL: dedicated. But they would do some songs. They would usually would have a soloist, and it was, at that time, it was always George Beverly Shea.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They would do congregational singing.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And then Billy Graham would do--. It`s very much the same format that you see now
RE: OK.
RL: on television. Then Billy Graham would, would do his, his sermon. I guess they must have taken up collection before he did his sermon, but anyway.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They, he would do, have his sermon, and then they would have the altar call.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They`re still--. I think they`re still using the same altar song, alter-call song, that they, hymn that they have forever.
RE: Is it "Just As I Am"?
RL: Just as I Am. Yes.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They would, you know, sing all the verses. Sing all the verses again.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: "Woo, woo" a couple of verses. [Laughter]
RE: Hum it probably?[Laughter]
RL: Yes. [Laughter] But it was amazing the way the, the impact that that,
RE: Um-hum.
RL; that that had.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And then, you know, they would just, you know, dismiss, and people would very quietly leave.
RE: OK.
RL: It was, it was just always a very, it was very peaceful.
RE: Um-hum. And did they--? Would they change it much for youth night or--?
RL: No, not at all.
RE: [Laugher]
RL: They might have somebody that was sort of a youth-type person
RE: Um-hum.
RL: give a testimony. And that is--. That, I meant--. I should have said that. They usually had someone give, give some sort of personal testimony.
RE: OK.
RL: And youth night would usually be somebody who had some connection with youth.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: You know, like an athlete or, you know, somebody who young people knew. But you have to remember that at this time, Billy Graham himself was a young person.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And a very attractive young man.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: This was not lost on a twelve-year-old girl.
RE: Right.
RL: [Laughter] This was not lost on any twelve-year-old girl.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: So he was a, you know, this, this--. These were not unattractive people.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: So that, you know, he prob--, he probably didn`t need to drag in anybody much younger.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: All of his staff was fairly young except George Beverly Shea
RE: Um-hum.
RL: at that time.
RE: Did local ministers participate in the service? Did they offer prayers or--?
RL: You know, I honestly don`t remember.
RE: OK.
RL: I know--. I was just looking at something a few minutes ago. I know that they were there and that they, they served as counselors.
RE: Right.
RL: And I honestly don`t remember particular ministers.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I was noticing in looking over some things that-and I guess this didn`t make much of an impression on me because I just felt like everybody who was anybody was there anyway- but noticing that the governor came.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I`m sure, and I would have--. I would be astounded if they weren`t there. I`m sure that the city fathers were there.
RE: Right.
RL: But, it was that--. It drew that sort of crowd.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: It was a very highly [Pause] accepted.
RE: Um-hum. When we were--. Before when we were discussing how it was a very civic,
RL: Um-hum.
RE: you had said, or a very community event. Did people come from out of town, from neighboring
RL: Oh, yes.
RE: places like Gastonia or--?
RL: Oh, yes indeed. They came from as far as they could possibly come.
RE: Really?
RL: And there were a lot of stories about, you know, about all, about that.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And all of the special arrangements that were made to get people there. Yes, they, they made people--. But of course this was a time when Charlotte was also the--. People thought nothing, nothing of taking an hour long bus ride to get to work.
RE: Um-hum. Ok.
RL: There weren`t that many cars, so people were pretty used to coming to Charlotte as they are now
RE: Um-hum.
RL: for one reason or another.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Pretty used to coming to Charlotte for, for big events.
RE: Right.
RL: But yes they, and, and it was, it was so well publicized in the churches.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: That you asked earlier about whether groups came. But in Charlotte they didn`t need to come, but I would imagine that, that groups that had church buses and things like that came together.
RE: OK.
RL: And I, I say that without, without knowing, but I think we might just check some, some of those early publicity
RE: Um-hum.
RL: articles and, and see it. Some of the early columns in each and see it. But it would have--. People were coming. It was, it was drawing such a crowd
RE: Um-hum.
RL: every night that I, I would guess people were coming as they do now for things.
RE: Um-hum. You had said, too, that the audiences tended to be a cross section
RL: Yes they did.
RE: of the population. Did that include blacks and whites as well? Did it seem--?
RL: Yes. Now my memory is, and my memory is going to be that of a twelve-year old. I mean, you know, thinking, trying to think back to what, what would have been normal to me
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: at twelve, because Charlotte had not integrated at that
RE: Right.
RL: time. And I`m, almost certain, because--. And I base that on having read later that Billy Graham was one of the very first evangelists to insist on integration.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And I know, you know, I just, I know that, that it was integrated but I don`t remember
RE: OK.
RL: in what way.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: You know, whether they had, you know, whether they had black sections or, you know, whether it was, it was fully integrated, you know,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: in seating. I don`t know how--. I don`t think he would have allowed integrated, segregated seating.
RE: No.
RL: But you know, but I just don`t, I just don`t remember how it was done.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: You know, as I say, this is, this is thinking of a twelve-years old`s memories, and a twelve-year-old thinking of the person they`re with,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: the people they came with and not, you know, looking out at a, you know, taking a real historical stance looking at the situation and seeing what`s different from--. You know, you don`t have a lot to--.
RE: Compare it to.
RL: Compare it to, yes.
RE: Right, so. Did his, his sermons change much from night to night? Did he change his topics very much?
RL: No, and they don`t ever change.
RE: Right.
RL: He might have preached on something different but
RE: Um-hum.
RL: he had--. He may have said some different things. He probably used different examples.
RE: Right.
RL: But I don`t think, I`ve, I`ve heard, heard them fairly recently
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: and I don`t think he`s changed anything.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: His whole point is always going be you may not get home tonight.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And he`d--. He used to talk about Independence Boulevard. He would not get out on Independence Boulevard if he had, did not know where--. [Laughter] Remember, you`re going out on Independence Boulevard when this is over.
RE: Yeah. [Laughter]
RL: And so he threatened us with Independence Boulevard for that five weeks.
RE: Um-hum. [Laughter]
RL: And, you know, every time, you know, I, you know, I`m sure people that drove, people who were old enough to drive must have pulled out on Independence Boulevard every night wondering if they were right with God.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But--. And anyone who`d lost their life on that Independence Boulevard after that, I am sure their last thought must have been [Laughter] Billy Graham said this would happen.
RE: Right.
RL: But not as a punishment but just
RE: Um-hum.
RL: you know, it, it--. You better get yourself ready.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But it`s--. And he does seem have a pretty predictable theme still, still.
RE: Um-hum, he does. It`s interesting is that people would continue to come week after week when it didn`t seem to vary very much. That the atmosphere was so strong.
RL: It, well, it was atmosphere.
RE: Really?
RL: They were very much drawn. And there was a feeling that was different, and I still remember that.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Because you`d, you`d look at it and you would think, the horse show didn`t create this.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: The ball game didn`t create this.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It wasn`t like this when they had ice hockey.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: People were doing things for people that they hadn`t ever done before.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It was, it was just a different atmosphere altogether.
RE: Um-hum. Did that atmosphere linger after the crusade left town?
RL: Yes. It was hard for it to linger. People tried. It was like a wonderful dream that people were waking up from, and they didn`t want it to be over.
RE: OK.
RL: It really was, and I think that`s why it lasted so long.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: It was such a good feeling in town while it was going on
RE: Um-hum.
RL: that people were almost clinging to it.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They were almost afraid to let it go.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I think there was a lot of sadness when it, when they finally said that they were, that, you know, that was, they were going to have leave.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But it was something people had just gotten used to, and they kept thinking, it was almost like that old Bible story about being on the mountain,
RE: Um-hum.
RL: and the disciples saying this is so good, let`s just stay up here. Do we have to go back? It was a mountaintop, and I guess that is, is the answer. It was a mountaintop experience.
RE: OK.
RL: And that`s a, you know, a term you do hear used in, in religious
RE: Um-hum.
RL: situations. But it was, and people were reluctant to come down
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: from it. And I guess they`ve always hoped it would be that way again.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And I don`t know, you know. It`s hard to imagine this city or any city--. And I guess people always hope and I gu--. Maybe that`s why they`re hoping for the next crusade.
RE: Right.
RL: You think it`s impossible, but then you turn on the television and you see a million people in Korea--.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: That, you know, would slog through anything to get there.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: There, there, there`s an atmosphere that it`s hard to describe. I mean, it`s just hard to say what causes it.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But it`s--.
RE: But it`s not the sheer mass of people.
RL: No, it`s not.
RE: Like you said.
RL: The same number of people went to Spring Living Show, I`m sure.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But they didn`t, you know, come out doing things for each other.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But it--. Yes, it `s a very, it`s an, an interesting--. I, I don`t know why he has lasted the way he has, but there`s, there`s something beyond humanity there.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: I mean there. From denomination to denomination, I`ve heard--. I`m, have converted to Roman Catholic.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: To the Roman Catholic Church for many years now.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I have heard many elderly nuns who are very fond of him.
RE: Really?
RL: He is--. He has a real across-the-board appeal.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And I think what people are seeing, and I`m certainly not a, a theologian, but I think what people are seeing is the goodness.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: And that sort of transcends.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: There`s a, there is a spiritual goodness that, that transcends religion.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: Or religious division.
RE: Had there been any other revivals in Charlotte you can remember?
RL: Yes.
RE: I mean, he came back in `72 but--.
RL: There have been revivals, and I`m sure they`re, you know, they have meant a lot to, that there had been individuals whose lives have been entirely changed by them.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: I`m not aware of any that had had any tremendous effect on the entire community.
RE: OK.
RL: I`m sure if--. And, and they`re fully as important to the people
RE: Um-hum.
RL: who were involved in them.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But, I haven`t, I haven`t been aware of any that were, that, that, sort of, had that, sort of, effect on the city.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum. Do you, did you go to the one in `72? Were you here or--?
RL: I, I was not here.
RE: OK. And, you probably weren`t here for the appreciation day and `71 or--?
RL: I was not.
RE: OK. Let`s see. Did you go--. I heard that also in `58, or around that time, he would have movies that played, I know at The Plaza. I`m not sure if they played elsewhere in town. But his organization would make movies about people who would go, who decided to lead their lives for Christ or something like that.
RL: I don`t--.
RE: There was one called "Mr. Texas" or--?
RL: Now, I don`t remember that.
RE: Okay.
RL: Except that, you know, the only thing I can say is that, there may have been some that I didn`t connect with that.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: That, that movie I don`t remember.
RE: OK. OK. I wish I had more details, but--.
RL: Um-hum.
RE: Because he, he would tend to use all sorts of media
RL: Um-hum.
RE: to get his message across, and one of these is they would make motion pictures. And I knew that it was showed in Charlotte.
RL: I know there`s some movies--. Yeah. I know there`s some movies of his crusades.
RE: Really? OK. [Pause] Let`s see. [Pause] I think that about covers it; the rest of what I was going to talk about. So, did you--. You said your mother was a block captain. Did you father participate other than just going to the--?
RL: Well no, he was very active at church, he was a Sunday school teacher.
RE: OK.
RL: So he was very active from the church end of it.
RE: Um-hum. He was working and was not able to, you know--.
RE: Right.
RL: Of course this was almost an entirely, entirely a women`s thing.
RE: Really?
RL: He, he went to the crusades.
RE: Right.
RL: But when, you know, when he was not working or when
RE: Um-hum.
RL: he, you know, when he could get there. But the prayer things, prayer meetings
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RE: were almost entirely attended by women.
RE: Right. Because you had talked about the people who participated in the choir. I also knew that a lot of people worked as ushers--.
RL: Um-hum.
RE: At these events, and I was just--.
RL: And I, I don`t remember him doing that.
RE: Right.
RL: He ushered at church.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: But I don`t remember him doing that.
RE: Yeah. I was just wondering if anyone from your church
RL: Oh, yes.
RE: worked as an usher.
RL: I`m sure some of them did. I don`t remember that. I remember that my minister
RE: Um-hum.
RL: worked as a counselor.
RE: OK.
RL: And this is another thing. We--. What, what we saw and what I`m sure other people saw
RE: Um-hum.
RL: by seeing their ministers there was the, their church`s stamp of approval on it.
RE: OK.
RL: You know, they--.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: That, that may have also made people very comfortable.
RE: Um-hum.
RL: They saw that, that this was, was, even if-whether it was said or not-that it was a, a sanctioned event.
RE: Um-hum, um-hum.
RL: I don`t whether that would have made any difference but it, I think it, sort of, probably had some psychological effect.
RE: OK. Well, I thank you.
RL: Thank you.
RE: I`m glad you did share with us something. Just stick it back there.
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