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Interview with Suzanne H. O`Neal

O`Neal, Suzanne H.
Echols, Emma
Date of Interview: 
Retirement community; Billy Graham crusade; Charlotte, NC; Religious conversion; Children and religion.
Susie O`Neal discusses her childhood experience at a Billy Graham crusade in the early 1950s. She recalls the impact of the message and music and describes the compelling nature of the altar call. As the activities director for Sharon Towers retirement community, she talks about her plans for residents to attend the then-upcoming Billy Graham crusade in Charlotte, 1996.
Charlotte, 1950s-1990s
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at Sharon Towers, Charlotte, NC
Levine Museum of the New South, Billy Graham Series
EE (Emma Echols): This is Emma Reid Echols, 5150 Sharon [Pause] Towers. 5150 Sharon Road. And I am at Sharon Towers, and I am recording reminiscences and stories of Billy Graham. I`m doing this for the Museum of the New South. And I have a special, special person today. And this is a person who attended one of the, one of the crusades. Give me your full name.
SO (Suzanne H. O`Neal): All righty. It`s Suzanne Herndon O`Neal.
EE: And what is your official capacity here at Sharon Towers?
SO: At Sharon Towers I am the activities director for independent residents.
EE: And what family do you have?
SO: I have one daughter and one husband, and that`s about it. [Coughing] Pardon me.
EE: Your home has always been in Charlotte?
SO: No. I grew up in Greensboro and moved to Wilmington and then, then to Charlotte, so all over North Carolina.
EE: That`s good.
SO: Yes.
EE: You were here for one of the Billy Graham crusades?
SO: I, I attended a crusade in Greensboro as a matter of fact with my mother and grandmother when--. And it was somewhere in the early 50s. Yes.
EE: Well, we`ll look up the date and find out more on that.
EE: And what impressed you about the crusade and why did you want to go forward?
SO: It wasn`t a want, it was a need. [Laughter] I mean a want and a need, I guess you`d say. And it was--. I was compelled to do so. When he called us down, I had to go and--.
EE: Do you have any idea how old you were?
SO: Oh, I think nine or ten or eleven. Something, some, somewhere in that span.
EE: Well, that`s the time when the Lord reaches out
SO: Yes.
EE: to children your age,
SO: Yes.
EE: I am sure.
SO: Uh-huh.
EE: And you mother and your grandmother. Your grandmother would have been an old lady by that time.
SO: She wasn`t very old! [Laughter]
EE: [Laughter]
SO: Let`s see. She was probably fifty, so she was a young woman.
EE: Yes.
SO: Yes. Yes.
EE: And all three of you.
SO: Um-hum.
EE: Had you ever made a profession of faith before? It was a new experience for you, wasn`t it?
SO: It, it was, it was quite new. Yes. Yes. I had been raised in the church. We went to Myers Park Methodist in a, in a--. Not in Myers Park. Market Street Methodist there in Greensboro, I--. That was my home away from home. But still the, the feeling and the, the compelling need to go and commit myself to Christ was just overwhelming. Yeah, it was.
EE: And you remember the music, too, don`t you?
SO: Oh! Yes. Yes. I definitely do.
EE: Which particular song? "Just As I Am" was--?
SO: Oh Yes! Yes! I think that was probably--. It meant the most to me.
EE: Did George Beverly Shea sing?
SO: He did, yes. Uh-huh.
EE: He always makes a tremendous impression.
SO: So exciting and thrilling.
EE: Since then you have raised your Christian family, and here you are at a Presbyterian Home
SO: Um-hum.
EE: with contacts all over the building. I must say that we appreciate and we love you.
SO: Thank you.
EE: Now what are you planning to do for us for the crusade?
SO: I`m planning to have a sign up sheet, and we shall be there with the proverbial bells on. [Laughter]
EE: [Laughter]
SO: We`ll take a bus or maybe several busses. I`m sure there will be a multitude of us here who want to go.
EE: They will be many that want to go.
SO: Yes.
EE: And I want to go with you, and I will be on the front seat beside you.
SO: OK. That`s a bargain. [Laughter]