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Collection 40 - Andrew Wyzenbeek. T1 Transcript

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This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Mr. Andrew Wyzenbeek (CN 40, #T1) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded are omitted. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts, verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English.



... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.

.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.

() Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.

[] Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.

This transcription was by John Horn and Robert Shuster and was completed October 17, 1988. Collection 40, Tape #T1; Interview of Andrew Wyzenbeek by Robert Shuster, May 16, 1978.

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SHUSTER: This is an interview with Mr. Andrew Wyzenbeek made in his home in Chicago on May 16, 1978, at a quarter to ten. Mr. Wyzenbeek, would you like to start off with telling a little about your family background in Holland?

WYZENBEEK: Well, we had a very unhappy youth. There were three children, but our house was not a home. My people were unbelievers. They were militant atheists and they quarreled and actually fought. It was a very unhappy home. And I left it... I left home when I was fourteen years old and went to Amsterdam. It was in Amsterdam that I went to school and got my mechanical engineering degree.

SHUSTER: They had a polytechnic there?

WYZENBEEK: The Polytechnic Institute of Amsterdam.

SHUSTER: So there was no kind of religious background at all in your family.

WYZENBEEK: None whatsoever. They ridiculed everybody that was a believer. My people were modern free thinkers. And prided themselves on it.

SHUSTER: How did you come to come to America?

WYZENBEEK: Well, while I was in Amsterdam, my mother wrote me that my father's business was not in good order and he wanted to leave Holland to go to America. Well, it had been my plan to go to America, but I was under age (I was nineteen years old) and I...I was due for a military service in Holland. But I was intending to leave for England and somehow or other got on board...got on board a ship over there and eventually reached the United States. Well, we called that "the New World," you know and my folks wanted to turn over a new leaf. They promised me that they would not fight any more. I agreed to go to with them.

SHUSTER: And so you automatically became an American citizen when your parents were naturalized?

WYZENBEEK: Well [pauses], no, I don't think my father ever took out citizenship here. But I immediately when I was eligible became an American citizen.

SHUSTER: And I suppose you landed at Ellis Island?

WYZENBEEK: Pardon?

SHUSTER: I suppose you landed at Ellis Island in New York?

WYZENBEEK: Oh. Sure. Sure. And then at Hoboken and I remember going on the ferry and crossing over to New York. And everybody was running, and it was seemingly a hectic city life over there. But it fascinated me.

SHUSTER: Busier than Amsterdam?

WYZENBEEK: Pardon?

SHUSTER: Busier than Amsterdam?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. It was much busier than Amsterdam. People ran. We didn't that in Holland. [Laughs] And I remember getting on the train that went by the way of Niagara Falls. And took...I think it was a Wabash road and went through Canada. And it took us almost three days to reach Iowa, which of course we called [pronounced] "Yowa".

SHUSTER: Yowa?

WYZENBEEK: Yowa. And we landed at Pella, Iowa. And I had visions that Pella, some little manufacturing town, that I found out to be ah...kind of a retirement place for farmers [laughs]. The streets were unpaved--deep, red Iowa mud. And the sidewalks were of wood. Right around the tenth of May, I remember, and three feet of snow fell that day. On the tenth of May in Pella, Iowa. Was I disappointed!

SHUSTER: But your family had bought land there or had bought a business...?

WYZENBEEK: They had...my father had some friends there. There was a hardware store, and the owner of the hardware store and he were old boyhood friends. That's why he came to Pella.

SHUSTER: So what kind of business did you get into when you were...?

WYZENBEEK: Well, I couldn't get a job. This was a deep depression in nineteen hundred and seven, and there was a....

SHUSTER: Let's see, I suppose that Theodore Roosevelt was president? Teddy Roosevelt was president then?

WYZENBEEK: Yes, I'm sure. That's right. Of course, it was a long time before I bothered my head about politics. But we considered Roosevelt a Hollander you know. [Laughs].

SHUSTER: Because of the name?

WYZENBEEK: Well, he use to go to the Dutch churches. He was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. So the Hollanders felt kindly toward him. My father felt that I ought to go to on a farm. All his friends were making money farming. So I tried it out. But I couldn't take it. I'm...I'm a city boy. And I felt awful on a farm. The third day I walked back to town six miles. The last time I ever went on a farm. And then I got a job painting wagon wheels in a wagon factory. Farmers' wagons. I painted them red. I don't remember what it paid, but it was very, very little. I got a job then in a factory finally and I ran a lathe. But after about six months because I could see that my folks were not going to be successful (they fought just as hard as ever) I decided to leave and went to Des Moines, Iowa. I was just picking up a few words of English, and so I felt that I could do better in Des Moines. If I stayed in Pella, I would never have learned English. They all spoke Dutch.

SHUSTER: Was there a large group of Dutch people in Des Moines or were you pretty much on your own?

WYZENBEEK: No. I insisted on getting away from the Hollanders. I...I wanted to learn English, and the only way you can learn it is when you have to. So I did get a job in a factory that was making gas engines, a large size gas engine to run a factory for...for supplying the power to...to factories. We made these big gas...gas engines. At the end of the year the depression had gotten so bad, there was no business. The factory had to shut down. And I was the only one out of seventy men that these...the owner kept because I was a mechanical engineer. He found out that I could not only make drawings, but I could make patterns and work in the factory. So for very low wages I continued there which was a great blessing to me because the man was very well educated. And he taught me a lot of English as we worked together.

SHUSTER: Was this where you were working when you first heard of Billy Sunday?

WYZENBEEK: No. I...I had one contact where I heard the Gospel. But I had never heard of Billy Sunday. I never went to church. I had a machinist in the days when we worked together in that factory who was a drinking man like myself. We use to go down to the saloon and have a few beers be...before we went home. And all of a sudden this fellow stopped drinking. He wouldn't go with me. I said, "Hey. What happened to you?" "Well," he said, "It was costing me a lot of money to stop here in the saloon." He said, "I only got married a year ago, and I need to be at home with my family." He had one baby. And I said, "Well...how come you stopped drinking? I would find that pretty difficult." "Well," he said, "You know, I...I...I became a Christian. I joined a church. And I'm through with that sort of life." "Oh," I said, "I could stop drinking if I wanted to. But I don't want to." "Well," he said, "You try it someday." So I did try. But it was pretty hard. Whenever I decided not to go to the saloon, I'd be there half an hour earlier. So I found it wasn't so easy to quit when you were addicted. And I had been drinking ever since boyhood. Likewise smoking, smoking cigarettes. I smoked a couple of packs a day.

SHUSTER: So where did you...where did you go to work next after the factory that you had ben working in?

WYZENBEEK: Well...I had one wonderful experience that I think that I'd like to relate. Our factory was completely shut down. There was a friend who had some money invested in that plant by the name of Maytag. They were the people that make...

SHUSTER: Washing machines.

WYZENBEEK: ...washing machines. And they came and talked it over with me. They had an idea that they would like to have a very small gasoline engine that could stick underneath the washing machine and belt it up to the wheel. Now those old washing machines you cranked them, and the agitator inside would rock back and forth and wash the clothes. All they wanted was to cut a groove in a flywheel for a round belt and belt it up to a little engine. So I designed a small engine, and we built it. We made it by hand. I did every bit of work on it. And we put it underneath there, and it ran the washing machine. And I demonstrated it at the Iowa State Fair. It was very interesting.

SHUSTER: So this was the first....

WYZENBEEK: People stopped around and washed that...watched that machine running. And it was a good thing for me. It gave me contact with the public, and I had about a week of it.

SHUSTER: This was the first....

WYZENBEEK: Just about that time my mother wrote me and said they had moved to Ottumwa, Iowa. Wouldn't I come home for my birthday which was on the nineteenth of October? And the fair was closing, and I thought it was a good time to try a change. Ottumwa, I knew, was a wide-open town. It was a railroad town. I looked forward to finding a convenient and congenial place in Ottumwa. So I went home. I bought a suitcase in a hock shop. I remember. I paid thirty-five cents for it. An old suitcase. I had no clothes to put in it but a couple of dirty shirts and socks. But I went home, and my father had again left. Several times that he had left home, left my mother to shift for herself. She was running a little boarding house. So I got a little room somewhere and found a job in Ottumwa. And just about that time (this was in October) Billy Sunday had started his tabernacle. A wooden tabernacle. I remember they use to nail it up so that they could pull the nails again and ...and re-use the lumber later on. Well...I didn't intend to go to Billy Sunday. I saw his write-ups in the newspaper. He made the first...the front page you know, and there were pictures of the crowds.

SHUSTER: When he first arrived.

WYZENBEEK: Yes. But it didn't mean a thing to me. I didn't know why a man should be named Sunday. [Pauses] Could have been Billy Monday.

SHUSTER: Tuesday.

WYZENBEEK: [Chuckles] But it so happened that some of his men came and had shop meetings. They came and sang a solo and gave a testimony in the factories around town.

SHUSTER: That was during the lunch hour or was....

WYZENBEEK: During lunch hour, yes. And that was interesting. To me it sounded like foolishness. But I had some men working under me because they had made me shop superintendent since I could read drawings and make drawings. There were some men under me that were known as the six dirty Swedes. Well ...there were mostly Swedes there in Ottumwa. But these were known as the six dirty Swedes. They worked in a little department where they made a mining lamp. And I had made a part of that mining lamp. I designed a hook for it and made the dies to make it. So I was in contact with these six men. And they were foul. They chewed snuff. I'm sure it was made to be sniffed, but they chewed it. And they smelled bad. I kept away from them. But one Monday when I came to work, two of those fellows looked entirely different. They came well dressed. White shirt. They hung up their shirt. They took all their clothes off and put on overalls and dressed up again when they went home. And I said to a friend of mine, "What happened to those Swedes of mine?" I thought they were going to ask me for the day off to go to a funeral. [Laughs]. "No," he said,"haven't you heard? The walked the sawdust trail at a Billy Sunday meeting." Well...that didn't mean anything to me. Sawdust trail. But to make a long story short in about a week (or less than two weeks) all six of them got the same thing. And I couldn't imagine what had caused that change. Well, I am trained to look for causes. When I see an effect, there must be a cause. So I talked to one of the Swedes. And I said, "Ollie, what happened to you fellows? You're different." He says, "Yeah, Mr. Wyzenbeek. We ...we are different. We are new men. We are born again." I said,"Born again?" "Yes," he said, "we have come to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. And He put a new spirit and a new heart in us. All six of us. "Well," I said, "That's wonderful. You sure are different." "Yes," he says, "We're very sorry for all these sinful things that we have done, and...but Christ has given us forgiveness, and we are now children of God." "Man," I said to myself, "How fanatical can you be!" But I couldn't sleep well that night. It worried me. But I says, "Is there anything to this?" So the next day I talked to them again. He said, "Mr. Wyzenbeek, why don't you go down there yourself? The wooden tabernacle is back of the jail." I said, "A jail is where I want to keep away from." He says, "Go in to the tabernacle. You might come out a Christian yourself." Well, I was so curious. I had no idea what they did there. So I went in. Sat about halfway on the outside of the seat, so I could get out when I wanted to. And Billy Sunday preached. And I couldn't understand him at all. He spoke rapidly. He used big words. In biblical terms. I couldn't understand him at all. So I was very much puzzled at the end of the service. But Billy was closing the meeting and he said, "Now before you go...before we leave let's turn around and shake hands with our neighbors and tell them God bless you." Well...so I turned around, and there was an old lady and I shook hands with her. And she said, "Young man, are you a Christian?" I said, "No, ma'am." She said, "Wouldn't you like to be?" I said, "I should say not." Well, none of it was satisfactory. I was feeling bad.

SHUSTER: Was there music during the service?

WYZENBEEK: Pardon?

SHUSTER: Was there music during the service?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. There was singing invitation hymns. And so I turned around and stared at the ground you know and I said to myself, "I treated the old lady bad. I shouldn't have done that." (She was probably forty. I was twenty you know. Twenty-one.) And so I turned around again and I said, "I beg your pardon, lady. But I didn't mean what I said. I wish I was a Christian." She said, "You do!" And she grabbed me by the arm and yanked me off the seat because I was on the outside and shoved. She shoved me all the way forward [laughs]. And somebody grabbed my arm and shoved it up. I shook hands with Billy Sunday, who was still standing on the platform. Somebody else took me and led me to a seat, a front seat. And I sat down. Well, that's all there was to it. And I looked myself over and I said, "Is this what they do here? Doesn't mean a thing." Then the young man came and sat beside me. And he was what we would call today a counselor. So he said, "May I have your name? I'd like to fill out this card." I said, "Wyzenbeek." "Well, you spell it." I said, "I can't spell it." I didn't know how to spell it...

SHUSTER: In English?

WYZENBEEK: ...because we spell in Holland [pronounced] "ah, bay, say, day"...

SHUSTER: "ay, f, gay"

WYZENBEEK: ...and here it's "a, b, c." So I said, "You better let me write it." He gave me the card and the pencil. I wrote my name and address. And then it said "church preference." He said, "What church are you going to join?" I said, "What church! Do you mean I have to join a church?" And he said, "You heard what Billy said about joining a church." I said, "No. I didn't. It went clear over my head. I didn't hear a word." "Well," he said, "you ought to join a church. Billy said that you couldn't go...mo more go to heaven without joining the church than you could go to England without crossing the ocean." "Well," I said, "I didn't hear it." "Well," I said, "I don't know one church from another." "Well," he said, "What church do your people go to?" "My people don't go to church. They're atheists." He said, "Have you any friends that go to church?" I said, "My friends go to the saloon. They don't go to the church." And he was quite embarrassed. He didn't know what the next question was to be. So I said, "Well, what church did Billy Sunday belong to?" He said, "He's a Presbyterian." I said, "Fine. How do you spell it?" So I wrote Presbyterian. And two days later a couple of young men from the Presbyterian Church came to see me.

SHUSTER: They had gotten the card.

WYZENBEEK: They got the card. I had not done anything because I didn't know what had happened. Nothing as far as I was concerned. And they said, "We'd like to take you to the YMCA Saturday there is a famous surgeon speaking there. Would you like to go?" I said, "Sure. As long as it didn't cost anything." I still remember that man's talk. And that's over seventy years ago (or just about seventy years). I have never forgotten it. But after the boys left, I immediately went out and bought a Bible. I went to [the] book store, and I said, "I'd like to buy a Bible." And he showed me a beautiful Bible. It was nice and soft and very thin paper. And he was telling me that it was the best he had. I said, "How much does it cost?" He says, "Twenty-two fifty." I said, "Goodness. Are they that expensive? I haven't got that much." "Well," he said, "I showed you one of my best Bible." So I said, "Well...show me a cheaper one." Here it is. This is the very Bible that he sold me for a dollar and eighty-five cents. [Laughs].

SHUSTER: You had it all those years.

WYZENBEEK: And I took it back to him a couple of hours later. And I said, "Look. This isn't regular English. I can read a newspaper by this time, but I can't read this." "Oh," he said, "That is sixteenth century diction. And that's a King James version." "Well," I said, "it doesn't mean anything to me." And then he turned around and picked up another smaller book. And he said, "Here is a New Testament." Now, believe or not, I didn't know there was an Old or a New Testament because I had never seen a Bible [pauses] in Dutch. And he said, "This is in modern English." And I said, "How much?" It was a dollar. So for a dollar, I got a book that I could read, and I found it fascinating. And I read the rest of the day. That night I got on my knees at my bedside. I found out that I was a sinner. And I...for the first time in my life I addressed God. And I said, "Father God." Who taught me to say "God Father"...to call God "Father?" And I asked for forgiveness. And peace came in my heart. It overwhelmed me. That was the time I got converted and I found the Lord Jesus Christ my savior. And I've trusted Him ever since.

SHUSTER: Praise the Lord.

WYZENBEEK: [Laughs] And so my entire outlook on life changed. Shortly afterward I got married. And we've had a Christian home. And a Bible has become my guide and has the answers for all the problems of life. Well....

SHUSTER: Did you go to any of the other Billy Sunday meetings after that one you had been to?

WYZENBEEK: I went to the last one.

SHUSTER: Oh. You get in just in time.

WYZENBEEK: That was the end of the Billy Sunday meetings. [Laughs]. The Lord saved me just in time. I ran into a fellow on the street that I had learned to know in some saloon. I had been playing cards with him. His name was Gene Palmer. And he said, "Andy, I haven't seen you for some time." And I said, "No. I had changed jobs. I got another job. I'm the factory superintendent of another company." And he said, "You're looking wonderful." I said, "Aren't you going to take me for a drink?" He says, "No, Andy, I become a Christian." I said, "Where?" He said, "In the Billy Sunday meeting." I said, "So've I!" [laughs]. So we ha had a wonderful feast together telling what the Lord had done for us. In the meantime Mel Trotter, who was the mission superintendent in Grand Rapids, came to Ottumwa to start a rescue mission. And he and Doctor DeHaan, M. R. DeHaan from Grand Rapids, were there to get the churches to unite and start a city rescue mission. Well ...since DeHaan was a Hollander and he spoke Holland, I got very friendly with that couple of men. And I was so glad that they started that mission where for quite a while I spent about six nights out of the seven in the week.

SHUSTER: What kind of programs did the mission have?

WYZENBEEK: The usual. I led the song service for quite a while. A good song service. And some (usually a layman) to give a testimony or a couple of them. And some times the mission superintendent would give a short Gospel message and an invitation. And some drunken bums would come forward to be prayed with, and occasionally one would not only accept Christ but become a changed person. And practical work was awfully good for me in those days. I remember....

SHUSTER: Did you talk with the people who came forward?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. We would pray with them. I remember one old fellow who was very much on the conviction, and he came forward and we prayed with him. But a few days later he was drinking again and carousing around. Sometimes he would last a week or two. But next thing you would find him in the gutter or on the railroad...in the railroad yards lying drunk sleeping it off. And that happened seven times. And I wanted to give him a good swift kick in the pants and let him go. But the superintendent said, "No. Don't do that.

SHUSTER: Was that...?

WYZENBEEK: "Go after him again." He said, "The Lord will forgive him. He will forgive him seventy times seven." So we went after him once more. Cleaned him up. Gave him a shower out at the YMCA. Got him a room to sleep in. And do you know that was the last time he ever got drunk. He became...he became a real saint. We got him a job as janitor in the city hospital. And there he became a blessing to everybody.

SHUSTER: Was Mel Trotter the one...was he the superintendent who had...?

WYZENBEEK: No. Mel Trotter was not superintendent. He...he only started the mission. They sent us a man from Kalamazoo to be the superintendent of that mission. Well, he was there as long as I was in Ottumwa. During those days I had started a little automobile repair shop. Automobiles were so new, and I was fascinated by them. So I started a repair shop. I first sold a couple of used cars. Then I begun to sell new cars.

SHUSTER: Fords?

WYZENBEEK: No. It was a Page. Before the Page, Detroit [unclear]. Page had begun with a two cycle engine and I had changed to a four cycle engine and it was a very nice little car. But all of them cranked. A crank. And occasionally some poor guy would break his wrist or his arm cranking the car because the car would backfire. So I thought the thing over and designed a kick starter. You threw the engine over by kicking a pedal. And that had to have a safety device so that if it should backfire it wouldn't break your leg. So I incorporated a release in there that the moment it backfired it released itself. So I went to a patent attorney there, and he told me I was the thirteenth one in the patent office with an automobile starter. And I demonstrated on the automobile show in Davenport, Iowa.

SHUSTER: And what year was that?

WYZENBEEK: That was in l9...l910. In the fall of l9l0 they had an automobile show there. And there was a fellow from Chicago that wanted to buy it. And I sold it to him under contract that I would go to Chicago and then help him get started manufacturing those things. So I...I was driving a two cylinder Jackson car myself, and I loaded it with my possessions and drove to Chicago.

SHUSTER: And you've lived here ever since.

WYZENBEEK: The.... What?

SHUSTER: And you have lived here ever since.

WYZENBEEK: And I've lived here ever since. I came here in 1911.

SHUSTER: What was the city like then?

WYZENBEEK: This city has treated me just right. It was a beautiful city. There was all kinds of work here. I was accepted. I was a born engineer, especially educated in a metric system. And ball bearings were already made in the metric system in those days. And it was easy for me to take on anything along that line. And I became a consultant. I got a job first a couple of times.... I first started making that starter. But the following year the electric starter was invented. And it killed off all the other type of starters. There were spring starters which you wound up. And there were kick starters and pull starters. And when the electric starter came, that was the end of it. Well...I have been here ever since. Looked for a church to go to and joined Moody Church.

SHUSTER: How did you hear about Moody?

WYZENBEEK: Well, I...at the time I was living way out in the south side in what is now ...what is used to be called Windsor Park near Manhattan Beach. South side. And a man from the Moody Institute came to hold some meetings in a little Baptist church, and he taught the book of Romans. He was Norman H. Camp. And that's exactly what I needed, to study the book of Romans. And I went to Moody Church and liked it. There was no pastor at Moody Church at that time. They had...they had what they called the assistant. His name was E. Y. Wooley. But the visiting pastors use to preach there. And one of the pastors by the name of Paul Rader was a dynamic speaker, and he had the ability to make the Bible come alive. And people were fascinated. After a couple of meetings, the deacons and elders decided to call him, and he accepted the job and became the pastor of Moody Church. We were then on the corner of Chicago Avenue and LaSalle Street where the Moody Institute bookstore is now. That was the entrance to the church.

SHUSTER: How many people were in the church when you came?

WYZENBEEK: Oh. It was a very well attended church. It was packed every... every day that there was a service. It was.... When Paul Rader came, the people sat in overflow meetings. They decided that they needed more room and a bigger place. And they bought that lot on the corner of Chicago, LaSalle, and North Avenue. They bought the whole lot. And then they erected a wooden tabernacle. How they got the fire department to okay it, I don't know. But we had that for almost ten years, I think. Paul Rader wanted to make the meetings unlike a church meeting as much as possible. So....

SHUSTER: Was that so non-Christians would come?

WYZENBEEK: That is so the people that did not go to church would feel more at home. And that's why he started a beautiful band and orchestra and a big choir. And we use to play a band concert a half hour or even an hour before church started.

SHUSTER: You were in the band?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. I played flute. I've played flute all my life. And I also played oboe and bassoon and any woodwind instrument I can play. But flute is my main love. I still play it. [Chuckles]. And people came for a long distance. I remember friends of mine that came in from Hammond....





SHUSTER: Hammond, Indiana?

WYZENBEEK: Hammond, Indiana on Sunday afternoon when the band played a Sunday afternoon concert.

SHUSTER: They came in by train, I imagine.

WYZENBEEK: The IC train...the North Central train I think had a service out that way.

SHUSTER: So a lot of people came from out of town?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. They did. They came from a hundred miles around.

SHUSTER: Did.... What kind of speaker was Paul Rader?

WYZENBEEK: Paul Rader....

SHUSTER: Did he...was he like Billy Sunday? Very acrobatic or was he....

WYZENBEEK: Well...Billy Sunday was so well versed in the Scripture. He knew it practically by heart. And all the stories of the Old Testament. he could make these mending to heroes. And you were fascinated when he was preaching. It was a wonderful experience and a great help to me. Sitting there in the band close to the platform. It was a wonderful experience to listen to Billy...Paul Rader. And he started then a summer camp at Cedar Lake, Indiana. Use to be called Monan [sp?] Park. Belonged to the Monan [sp?] railroad. And they had a summer camp there. Dance floor and ...and a dining room and so forth. And the Monan [sp?] road use to run right by there. And crowds would go to...to that m...that park. But there had been a fight there. And I think someone was killed there. And Monan [sp?] Road wanted to get rid of it. And Paul Rader and E. Y. Wooley dropped off one day. Looked there. And looked over the place. And they talked to the officials of Monan [sp?]. And they agreed to take it over and bring crowds to come to that park in the summertime for a camp meeting which they did. And they fulfilled their contract and brought enough people there so that Moody Church took over the Cedar Lake camping grounds.

SHUSTER: So, then they had meetings there every summer?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. They had.... From about the middle of June until September.

SHUSTER: Did Paul Rader also have some kind of radio program?

WYZENBEEK: Have what kind?

SHUSTER: Some kind of radio program?

WYZENBEEK: He went on the radio when it was a brand new thing.

SHUSTER: 1920's?

WYZENBEEK: In fact his musical program was desirable on the radio. And of course he ...he....by doing so he got the service on the radio. I remember that the first program they played on a radio station with [a] studio in city hall. They played on top of city hall. The brass quartet of our band put on a musical program.

SHUSTER: What year was that?

WYZENBEEK: [Laughs] That's pretty hard to say. I think it was about 1928. Thereabouts.

SHUSTER: And were you involved in the production of the program?

WYZENBEEK: Well, later on I...I monitored the program and kind of bossed the studio. And so I got the microphones in the proper place and so forth. We had the old carbon microphone. We use hit it with a pencil before we started to speak [laughs] to jar the carbon granules loose. I have seen some wonderful things in these meetings and especially in that radio studio. After the service we had a program...program that we called The Back Home Hour. And usual...it was mainly a musical program, but Mr. Rader who would close it with a short message and an invitation to accept Christ.

SHUSTER: How many years was the program on the air?

WYZENBEEK: Well, now you have me. I'm not good at remembering dates. But it was quite a few years. When Paul Rader left Moody Church, another group had started a tabernacle, and they asked him to become the...the preacher there which he accepted.

SHUSTER: Was that the Gospel Tabernacle?

WYZENBEEK: It was called the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. And the musical organization continued there. The pastor of Moody Church did not want to use a band so that practically threw my musical family out of that service. And they invited us to Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. So we joined the band there.

SHUSTER: Why did Paul Rader leave Moody?

WYZENBEEK: I wouldn't like to talk about that. I was too much on the inside. And it is better that I don't talk about it.

SHUSTER: You also know Peter Deyneka, Senior, don't you?

WYZENBEEK: Well, Peter Deyneka got converted in a tabernacle meeting and....

SHUSTER: Gospel Tabernacle.

WYZENBEEK: In the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. And they sent him to me. Asked me to employ him as a worker in the factory. [Sounds of telephone ringing in the background and Mrs. Wyzenbeek answering it.] And he worked for me for two years before he went off to Bible school where he had a vision of starting in a missionary work to the Slavic Gospel...to the Slavic people. So he organized the Slavic Gospel Mission. [Break in interview as tape recorder is turned off]





SHUSTER: What kind of an impression did Peter Deyneka make on you as a young man?

WYZENBEEK: Well, I did not get much of a chance to get acquainted with him for a while. But we had a morning prayer meeting in our factory. Several of the Christian men had a fifteen minute prayer service before they went to work. And Peter was very active in that and prayed with a loud voice. And he was very much liked around there. But about...at the end of about two years he left us to go to Bible school, he started this missionary organization in which I have been able to help from time to time. It's been a very satisfactory thing and has grown. His son is now the president of the Slavic Gospel Mission.

SHUSTER: Yes, I've met Peter Deyneka, Junior.

WYZENBEEK: Yes. He's a wonderful, wonderful boy.

SHUSTER: And you served on the board of directors?

WYZENBEEK: For a while. Yes.

SHUSTER: It started out as preaching to Slavic immigrants in South America, didn't it?

WYZENBEEK: He went to South America and started something outside of Buenos Aires in Rosario. Since I speak Spanish.... I've always been very much interested in that.

SHUSTER: Did you use to go with him to South America?

WYZENBEEK: No. I have been there, but before his center was big enough to find him. Of course now they.... One of the other boys use to work for me, Andy Semenchuk.

SHUSTER: Semenchuk.

WYZENBEEK: And he was the head of that Bible school that they started in Rosario.

SHUSTER: Is he still with Slavic Gospel Mission?

WYZENBEEK: He is still with them, yes. And he's very active not only in Argentina but also in Brazil.

SHUSTER: Let me reverse the tape

[Pause]





WYZENBEEK: [Discussing Billy Sunday]...time I heard him was in a...in New York City, in the Metropolitan Baptist Church there.





SHUSTER: Did you ever get to know him personally?





WYZENBEEK: Oh yes. I sat on a platform there, because I became a friend of Ma Sunday.





SHUSTER: How did you meet her? Was it through the meetings?





WYZENBEEK: Yes, through the meetings. I met her even in Ottumwa. She was a wonderful woman. And when Billy died, Ma Sunday needed help and a friend of mine together helped her and saw her through her difficulties.





SHUSTER: Did you.... You mentioned that you knew Mel Trotter when you came to Chicago. Did you have any contact with the Pacific Garden Rescue Mission?

WYZENBEEK: Well, I used to go to Grand Rapids a great deal and always went to the mission there. [Laughs]. Yes, he was a.... The Lord made a great man out of a drunken barber. He...he certainly was a wreck when the Lord took him and made a new man out of him.





SHUSTER: So you stayed in close contact with him...





WYZENBEEK: Yes...

SHUSTER: ...for the rest of his life.

WYZENBEEK: ...we did because there was a campground in Muskegon where we use to go there in Muskegon. The Maranatha camping grounds. And then we always went to Grand Rapids of course.

SHUSTER: Did you help him to start any other rescue mission besides the one in....

WYZENBEEK: No. I did not really help him start. But I went to all the rescue missions that I could find as I traveled in the United States. I ...even in Washington, D. C many years ago I went to the city rescue mission there and met a man whom I met lately in Bibletown, Boca Raton. His name was Mister Crumbly [sp?]. I said, "Look, I have met you before." I said, "Didn't you use to be a rescue mission man in Washington, D. C.?" He said, "Yes." [Laughs].

SHUSTER: Very good memory.

WYZENBEEK: Yes. Well, all the missions around this part of the country, in Indianapolis and in Saint Louis and Minneapolis, I've had the privilege of being active in them, in the mission.

SHUSTER: You used to attend the services or you...

WYZENBEEK: Oh. Sure.

SHUSTER: ...helped the people there.

WYZENBEEK: I used to attend the services.

SHUSTER: And you'd help....

WYZENBEEK: Give my testimony or play my flute. [Laughs].

SHUSTER: How did you come to know V. Raymond Edman?

WYZENBEEK: Well, he came preaching at Moody Church occasionally, or even at the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle he was known so that I always recommended to my friends that they should send their children to Wheaton College. And so we got acquainted quite early. And I used to go to the Wheaton Bible Church.

SHUSTER: That's my church.

WYZENBEEK: That's your church. Well, that is a wonderful church. During the days of Doctor Prank [sp?] I made it my business there about...at least one month or so. I found Doctor Edman a real friend. Whenever he spoke at the Moody Church here, he...I would have him here at noon. We'd go to lunch, and then he would lie down and sleep for an hour or so [laughs] at our apartment.

SHUSTER: Was he a dynamic speaker or a scholarly speaker?

WYZENBEEK: Oh. He was a...he was a spiritually minded man. And for instance when he would talk about...talked about his friends, they were the blind men of the Bible. He had three friends. And of course he himself had suffered blindness until they repaired his retina which gave him back pretty good sight. He had better sight than I did. He was a delightful person. He wrote a tract about my conversion.

SHUSTER: I believe I have a copy.

WYZENBEEK: The tract is known as "Six Dirty Swedes." That's the one. [Laughs]

SHUSTER: I understand that he and Peter Deyneka use to preach on street corners. Did you know him then?

WYZENBEEK: I did not know about that.

SHUSTER: Did you know anyone else from the college?

WYZENBEEK: Quite a few. But It's very difficult for me to think of the names of them just now. Of course, I got acquainted there with Bob Van Kampen. Bob Van Kampen used to be...use to be publisher of a...of an industrial magazine. And I advertised in his magazine.

SHUSTER: How did you come to know.... Did you know Herbert J. Taylor?

WYZENBEEK: Who?

SHUSTER: Herbert J. Taylor?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. I was of course active in the Christian Business Mens' Committee and Gideons, and that brought me in contact with these people.

SHUSTER: He was also I understand very act...of course the founder of Christian Workers Foundation.

WYZENBEEK: Yes. I joined the Gideons in 1918 when I was eligible. You had to be a salesman to join the Gideons, or I would have joined them earlier. [Laughs].

SHUSTER: A salesman. So you traveled to different places and put the Bibles in...?

WYZENBEEK: That is right. I made it my business to help start Gideon camps in various places. And for a number years I was very active in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas. And so I left a chain of Gideon camps in those towns where I started them.

SHUSTER: These were children's camps or camps for the whole family?

WYZENBEEK: No. Camps....camp of the Gideons which is a...a...a...a local camp as we call it, see.

SHUSTER: Oh. It's like a local chapter.

WYZENBEEK: Like a chapter. But since we take the name of Gideons, why Gideon was in a camp.

SHUSTER: With the horn...

WYZENBEEK: Yes.

SHUSTER: ...and the pitcher and the....

WYZENBEEK: And beat the enemy with three hundred dedicated soldiers.

SHUSTER: Well how would you go about starting a Gideon camp?

WYZENBEEK: Well, I always made Christian friends in the town where I went for business and went to church with them. And I would get a couple of active Christians and say, "Now look. I have ....I wear this emblem which is the emblem of the Gideon association. We place Bibles in hotels. And we should have a local camp here. And I suggest that you fellows get together and get a few of your other friends together and start camps here and we ....we'll see to it that all the hotels and motels have Bibles. And I take them to maybe ...take them to dinner or...a get together dinner, and we would organize them. That's all there was to it.

SHUSTER: And did the camp also meet then for Bible study?

WYZENBEEK: Well, they do that amongst themselves. Their business is to represent Christ in the business world. And by placing Gideon Bibles in the hotels they...they get a lot of visitors to come to the churches and so forth. It's a wonderful organization for practical Christian work.

SHUSTER: Did you have any connection with the founding of the NAE [National Association of Evangelicals] in Chicago?

WYZENBEEK: Only in that I favored their doctrine. And the evangelicals should have a voice. And I would support any effort that they made for the evangelical group to be properly represented in Washington. And that is why I am a member of NAE.

SHUSTER: What...what finally happened with the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle?

WYZENBEEK: What happened to them?

SHUSTER: Yeah.

WYZENBEEK: After Rader left,....

SHUSTER: What....he left in the thirties?

WYZENBEEK: Rader accepted the presidency of the Christian Missionary Alliance. And he was active in the East for quite a while. And then Clarence Erickson took over the tabernacle. But after a while.... This also was a wooden building. It was a steel frame, but a wooden building. It was always difficult to get permits to continue services there. And the group held together very well. But finally they worshiped in some other church that they organized for the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle.

SHUSTER: So the congregation moved out of the building.

WYZENBEEK: Yes.

SHUSTER: Together.

WYZENBEEK: Yes.

SHUSTER: And the Tabernacle was going down.

WYZENBEEK: Yes. I don't think at the present time that they're in existence. The.... Some of...some of the best Gospel meetings have continued not only in the...in Chicago but some are on the west coast and so forth as an outgrowth of that Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. There was Lance Latham who was pianist. And there was Merrill Dunlop who was a pianist in the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. And they had continued until this day. Lance Latham is in his eighties. And I met him this year yet Florida.

SHUSTER: I've written to him.

WYZENBEEK: Yes. He's very, very active. Of course, Lance Latham started that Awana camp movement. And that has grown to be a very big thing among young people.

SHUSTER: How did you come to know Torrey Johnson?

WYZENBEEK: Well, Torrey Johnson was around Moody Church.

SHUSTER: He attended there?

WYZENBEEK: And when he became an ordained preacher, he started...he worked from the Midwest Bible Church on Cicero Avenue. And that's where I got acquainted with him. And then when he got active in Youth For Christ.... He and Paul...he and Billy Graham started Youth For Christ. And I felt that was very well worthwhile work. And when they started holding Saturday night meetings for the young people, I...I thought it was a very timely work to get the kids off the street and into a Gospel meeting on Saturday night.

SHUSTER: That was during World War II?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. And of course that's where I got acquainted with...with Billy Graham too.

SHUSTER: Did you use to attend the rallies, the Youth for Christ rallies?

WYZENBEEK: Yes, I use to attend them. I attended them quite regularly. And they were in different churches and so forth, so they wanted to make a real impression here in Chicago. And both Billy and Torrey Johnson came storming into my office when I was in business here, and they said, "Andy, we got a chance to rent the Auditorium." That's the....

SHUSTER: Soldier Field?

WYZENBEEK: ...that's on the northwest [unclear] Avenue there. Yeah.

SHUSTER: Oh! Yeah. Roosevelt University.

WYZENBEEK: Yes. And I said, "How much does that cost you?" And they said, "Five thousand dollars." And I said, "Have you got any money yet?" They said yes, they had three thousand. So, we were prospering. I turned to my bookkeeper. I said, "How's the exchequer?"

SHUSTER: [Laughs].

WYZENBEEK: He said, "It's in good shape." [Laughs] I said, "All right, boys. I'll give you a check." [Laughs].

SHUSTER: What were the programs of the meetings like?

WYZENBEEK: The programs of Youth For Christ in those meetings?

SHUSTER: Yeah.

WYZENBEEK: Well...it was a great deal of music. Good singing. Good soloists. And good preaching. And many kids were converted. And it was a tremendous help to the churches. To keep their young people in line. I think it was directed by God in those days. It was a necessary thing. And the Lord used Billy Sun...Billy Graham and Torrey Johnson to do it.

SHUSTER: There wasn't an.... Was there any hostility towards Youth For Christ? Any opposition to it?

WYZENBEEK: Not that I know of. Of course they had their ups and downs. But anytime you do a job for God why the devil will be active.

SHUSTER: How did Billy Graham impress you in those days?

WYZENBEEK: Why, he was a fiery young fellow and he impressed me as a go-getter. He did not disappoint me. [Laughs].

SHUSTER: Did you stay in touch with him after he left Chicago?

WYZENBEEK: Oh yes. I kept in touch with him. And when they started their various campaigns, I would turn up here, and I was in the meetings in San Francisco and other places in the West coast and of course here [Chicago].

SHUSTER: Were you on...I imagine you were on some of the committees here when they were planning the crusade?

WYZENBEEK: I was very active with them, yes. And when he started the Songs In The Night program in Western Springs. He started in the basement of a Baptist Church. Before the church was built, they had a basement and put a roof over it and worshiped in the basement. Well...that's the way it started for the Youth For Christ program.

SHUSTER: Songs In The Night program?

WYZENBEEK: Songs In The Nightprogram.

SHUSTER: Did you know George Beverly Shea too? He also sang on that program, didn't he?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. It fascinated me to see the Lord opening this thing up. And of course as you perhaps know, the Youth...Songs In The Nightprogram was continuing, and it's now being broadcast from the Moody Church auditorium.

SHUSTER: You yourself have traveled a good bit abroad haven't you visiting?

WYZENBEEK: Well...

SHUSTER: In other countries?

WYZENBEEK: I begun to manufacture a line of flexible shaft equipment and other tools and also concrete vibrators and found a market for it abroad. And since I speak most of the European languages, why I also did some exporting to Europe and visited there. I visited in Holland and in Germany and Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain. I spoke those languages, therefore it helped. And I don't like Chicago winters. I never did. So I use to go to Mexico for my winter months. And Mexico became as good a productive territory as anyone of the states here. So it was worth my while to go up to Mexico and Central America and later on to every republic in South America.

SHUSTER: Did you have much contact with the missionaries in those....?

WYZENBEEK: Always I visited the missionaries whenever possible. And if not the missionaries I would visit the American Bible Society or whatever Bible distribution center they had in those little cities, I would be there.

SHUSTER: What were your impressions of the ...the evangelical churches in South America? Are they growing?

WYZENBEEK: Well, of course I...I didn't go to the various sects. There are some types of missionary work among the various types of people. I did work with the Salvation Army in Mexico City. We would go to jail meetings and so forth in Mexico. But in the other big cities I would find a good evangelical group. In Mexico City we were very active [in] the Presbyterian group and also Baptists. And I found that very rewarding. To this date I am helping various little churches in South America.

SHUSTER: These are churches led by native Christians?

WYZENBEEK: Yes. Run by native Christians.

SHUSTER: Well, that...that about takes up about all my questions.

END OF TAPE


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