History Book: Billy Graham’s first sermon

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It, the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, a world-renowned evangelist delivers his very first sermon. Plus the U.S. government begins rationing meat, milk, and cheese and other staples during World War 2.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, 170 years ago this week, a natural wonder in North America shows a face never seen before. Here’s Paul Butler.  

AUDIO: Niagara Falls Drying Up

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today on March 29th, 1848. A little before midnight a farmer in New York noticed that the usual roaring of the Niagara river was silent. For several days before, gale-force winds blew ice floes on Lake Erie across the mouth of the river. An ice dam formed on the eastern shore, stopping the water, and causing the majestic falls to run dry.

For the next 30 hours, industry up and down the river stops and people flock to see the anomaly.

AUDIO: People Walking on River Bed

A steady parade of gawkers and explorers walk the Niagara river-bed, looking for and finding many souvenirs.

AUDIO: Explosion

The Maid of the Mist operators blast away dangerous rocks and clear some of the larger boulders to make it easier to approach the falls once the water returns.

There are even reports of impromptu prayer meetings as some thought it was a sign of the end of the world.

AUDIO: Ice Dam Breaking Up

Shortly after sunset on March 31st, the wind changes direction and the ice dam breaks, violently releasing millions of gallons of water back into Niagara River and over the dam.

AUDIO: Pump Organ

Next, March 28th, 1937, Florida Bible Institute dean John Minder assigns one of his students an Easter evening sermon at a small, local Baptist church. The 18-year-old Billy Graham tries to get out of it, saying he’s unprepared, but Minder insists. Graham’s son Franklin tells the rest of the story, courtesy of First Coast News:

GRAHAM: He only had four sermons. Total. But he was so nervous, I think he preached all four at that one time. You know, he laughs about it.

After the evening service, one parishioner encourages Graham to go back to school and study hard, confident that God would use him mightily. Graham does return to school, eventually ending up at Wheaton College.

AUDIO: Billy Graham sermon in background 

From his humble beginning at the North Florida Easter service, Billy Graham eventually goes on to preach to more than 80 million people in person around the world, and millions more by television, radio and film.

RATIONING SONG: It’s as clear as ABC, share alike for victory…

And finally, March 29th, 1943, 75 years ago this week:

RATIONING SONG: …that’s what a rationing plan is for, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Jones…

The Office of Price Administration begins rationing meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk and other processed foods.

RATIONING FILM: Seems to me, if I was one of them big fellas in Washington, I’d kind try to figure out how some system to uh, spread the food overall thin, so it’ll cover more.

Voluntary rationing proved effective during the first world war, but during World War 2, the U-S government determined that a mandatory system was necessary:

RATIONING FILM: Americans not in the armed forces will get less of the common foods to which they are accustomed. But by rationing, by sharing what we have, by using our food supply wisely, our nation at war can still support a healthy, active people.

Throughout the war, rationing spread to clothing, coffee, gasoline and many other items. The difficulty in obtaining many everyday goods led to a profitable underground market, especially of meat, sugar and gasoline.

RATIONING FILM: Even rationing isn’t any good, unless we make it work. It’s still up to us, and there are an awful lot of people in the world depending on us. [IT’S UP TO YOU SONG STARTS]

By the end of the war, restrictions on most items were quickly lifted in the U-S, though sugar was rationed until 1947.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

AUIDO: Rationing song out

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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