History Book

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, the 100th birthday of one of America’s most influential evangelists.

Plus an advancement in telephone technology that made long-distance calling commonplace from coast to coast.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, a look at the most destructive storm to ever hit the American Great Lakes. Here’s Paul Butler.

AUDIO: [Sound of blowing wind and crashing wind]

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: On November 9th, 1913. A “November Gale” strikes the Great Lakes basin.

Two storm fronts converge over the still warm waters of the Great Lakes and spawn an extratropical cyclone. Hurricane-force winds, large waves, and blizzard-like, white-out conditions create what’s known as a “White Hurricane.”

The storm blows for nearly three days with wind gusts over 80 miles per hour and waves as high as 36 feet.

At the time, weather forecasting was improving but unreliable, and often lacked specificity. Forty-eight hours before the storm, The Detroit News predicted merely “moderate to brisk winds.” Many ship captains and their shipping partners decided to risk the coming weather.

AUDIO: [Ship horn]

By the storm’s end, 19 vessels were left stranded and 12 were completely lost—along with their cargos. The losses led to a rise in consumer product prices across the country and a sudden shortage of iron ore, coal, and grain.

The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 was the most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes, killing more than 250 people.

MUSIC: [The Gale of 1913—Dan Hall]

Next, November 7th, 1918, in a small farmhouse bedroom, Morrow Graham delivers her first born son “Billy.” The child’s father and namesake, William, was a dairy farmer near Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 1934, at age 16, Billy Graham professed faith in Christ during a revival meeting led by Mordecai Ham.

GRAHAM: I tell you if I wasn’t sure that I had repented of my sins you couldn’t drag me out of Madison Square Gardens tonight till I knew that was settled.

Graham left home to attended Bob Jones College, then transferred to the Florida Bible Institute before finally ending up at Wheaton College. There he met his wife Ruth. After briefly serving as a pastor and college president, he found his life’s work in 1947:

GRAHAM: Have you trusted Christ Jesus as Savior? Tonight! I’m glad to…

Graham led more than 400 evangelistic crusades around the world—a ministry that continued for nearly 60 years.

Billy Graham died earlier this year of natural causes. The next day, his son Franklin Graham appeared on NBC’s Today Show:

KOTB: How do you think your father would want to be remembered? GRAHAM: When my mother passed away, we knew what she wanted on her tombstone, so I asked my father, “Daddy, what do you want on your tombstone?” And he thought about that, and he said, “Preacher.”

Next month, a bicameral congressional committee will meet to begin planning and seeking proposals from artists for a statue of Billy Graham that will be placed in the Capitol Building Statuary Hall sometime in 20-20.

MUSIC: [Johnny Cash—Preacher said, Jesus said]

And finally, November 10th, 1951: the first customer-dialed, direct, long-distance call, is made from Englewood, New Jersey, to Alameda, California.

FILM: The telephone at last was filling a deep, human need. The need of people—seperated from one another—to talk with each other…

Audio from the 1955 AT&T film: Dialing the Nation. For decades, long distance calls required an operator, but regional area codes and automated connectivity equipment made it possible for the customer to do it themselves.

FILM: When you dial a number, the equipment obediently receives the information, stores it up, and remembers it. But although the equipment is complex, direct dialing of your own distant call is almost as easy as dialing a local call…

By the early 1960’s, most areas of the country updated their local phone exchanges, and Direct Distance Dialing was commonplace in even the smallest towns.

FILM: …the story of direct distant dialing points the way to even better telephone service at the lowest possible cost, for you today and tomorrow…

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

(Photo/The Detroit News)

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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