History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It, the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, an uniquely American pop-cultural institution brings together our love of cars and the movies.

Plus 50 years ago this week, the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, a milestone for a famous and well loved preacher. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Today we begin with June 7th, 1891, English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon delivers his last sermon at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle. Reenacted here from a 2010 Christian Television Association documentary: The Life of Charles Spurgeon.

AUDIO: Clip from documentary

When Spurgeon died in January, 1892, he was only 57 years old. Yet during his more than 30 years of ministry, he founded churches, trained pastors and published more than 150 books.

He preached to large crowds everywhere he went. He intentionally spoke to the everyday person instead of the educated. Spurgeon was not a wealthy person and donated much of his earnings to his church and other ministries.

In 2013, John Piper delivered the inaugural Spurgeon lecture at Orlando’s Reformed Theological Seminary: He spoke of Spurgeon’s gospel legacy:

PIPER: Spurgeon stands as a witness to what happens when love for God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated truth feeds the flame of love for people—an explosion of zeal and energy and creativity. All of it aiming to glorify God and bring sinners to Himself.

When Spurgeon died, more than 100,000 people lined the streets for his funeral procession. Every shop along the route closed to honor the Prince of Preachers.

Next we travel to June 6th, 1933—85 years ago this week. Richard Hollingshead opens the very first drive-in theater in Camden, New Jersey.

Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car, and an additional quarter for every person in the car. But concessions sold during intermission were the key to profitability.

AUDIO: Intermission commercial

Drive-in popularity spiked in the early 60s, with more than 5-thousand theaters across the country. But as viewers were given more home theater entertainment options, interest soon waned and drive-ins mostly disappeared. Over the last decade there’s been a bit of a resurgence. According to the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association, as of June 2016, there were 595 drive-in screens nationwide.

And finally, June 5th, 1968. Just hours after winning the California primary in his bid to become the Democrat candidate for president, U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy speaks to a group of supporters in Los Angeles:

RFK CLIP: Let’s go to Chicago and win this thing…

Kennedy leaves the podium and enters a small passageway near the hotel kitchen, where an assailant shoots him three times with a small caliber revolver. One bullet strikes him in the head—the other two in the back.


Authorities identify shooter as Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan. He is quickly restrained, but insists he was in the kitchen looking for a cup of coffee and doesn’t remember firing the weapon.

SIRHAN CLIP: I thought he was a saint. I wish he was still alive.

Kennedy dies 26 hours later at Good Samaritan Hospital. Tens of thousands attend the public viewing at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. During the funeral on June 8th, his brother Ted Kennedy delivers a moving eulogy:

KENNEDY: My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life. Be remembered simply as a good a decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it…

Robert Kennedy is buried near his brother John at Arlington National Cemetery.

To this day, Sirhan insists he doesn’t remember shooting Kennedy, though he admits it was his gun.

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

(AP Photo/Warren Winterbottom, File) In this April 2, 1968 file photo U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-NY, shakes hands with people in a crowd while campaigning for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination on a street corner, in Philadelphia.

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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