Maury Z. Levy

Posts Tagged ‘madison square garden’

The Second Coming of the Rev. Billy Graham

In The Trentonian (1968-1970) on August 31, 2009 at 3:11 pm


NEW YORK — “Jesus Christ,” said the guy with the dark green Robert Hall suit and matching Midwestern twang, “I can’t find him anywhere. We’d better go to the Garden.”

He slammed down the mint phone receiver in the plush staff suite and huffed out to the 28th floor express elevator to the velvet lobby of the Penn-Garden Hotel and out into the heat of 7th Ave. where the heavens hung heavy with whimpering clouds.

He darted the group buses on 31st St. and took the plaza steps two at a time to the main entrance of the new Madison Square Garden. He zipped past the women in the white blouses and long black skirts and the gray hair in buns, and the men in the baggy black suits and the white socks and he did not stop to hear what they were saying.

“I hear there are a lot of protesters around the other side,” one of the shorthairs told a cop. “I think we ought to box them off and throw hand grenades at them.”

The guy in the dark green suit kept flashing his staff pass at the security guards all the way up to the first promenade and into the Crusade office where he found his man.

It has been 12 years since Billy Graham, evangelist, had been in New York, the sin capital of the Western World. Time had made things curiouser and curiouser.

“The other night I walked through Times Square,” Graham said later, “and I was stirred and angry at what I saw.”

Graham had to come to the Garden to help clean New York up. On the opening night of the Crusade, about 25,000 believers and seekers showed up to have their souls sweat by a new broom.

Graham, his wavy golden-gray hair sitting on top of an iron face of pancake makeup, was overwhelmed at the welcome.

“It’s one of the largest, if not the largest response we’ve ever had on a first night,” he said.

Overwhelming was the word for the whole thing. There was a 2,000-voice choir, pared down from 3,000 applications. There was someone in every seat in the place and some in places where there weren’t seats.

There were old men and women after their last sal­vation. There were young men and women seeking the right road, seeking a spiritual saviour.

“HE’S HERE,” one of their buttons said.

Indeed, he was.

Cliff Barrows, Crusade music and program director, warmed the crowd up with a fast hymn from the Official Billy Graham Song Book (only 50 cents at an usher near you) and then introduced Graham.

“. . . and now, here is God’s spokesman for these meetings . . .”

Graham walked forward to the thunder of the crowd. He stood before the bullet-proof podium smothered with artificial flowers and green snowball bushes — a true believer amidst the foliage of an artificial Garden of Eden. The organist played on.   Read the rest of this entry »

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