This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Rev. William A. Drury (CN 492, T4) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
. . . Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of though within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
. . . . Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of a incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Robert Shuster and Matthew Drobnick and completed in December 1997.
Collection 492, T4. Interview of William A. Drury by Robert Shuster, December 17, 1993.
SHUSTER: [These comments were added after the interview, when the tape was copied.] This is a continuation of the interview of William A. Drury by Robert Shuster which took place on December 17, 1993. This reel master is being made from the cassette original. Since each reel is...contains sixty-five minutes worth of tape and each cassette is forty-five minutes per side, that explains some of the brief gaps [and overlaps] there are in the tape at various points.
DRURY: [At this point the original interview resumes.] ...the only invitation we gave on the street corner was for salvation. Not dedication, not commitment, not this broad, grandiose type, everybody come, arthritis, halitosis, whatever, but strictly salvation. "You want to accept Jesus Christ, you want to invite him into your heart. He said, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. When any man....' ['hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his house and eat with him and he will eat with me.' Revelation 3:20] You want to open your heart's door." Get their name and address, give them literature that night, some basic, fundamental tract. For years we used Four Things God Wants You to Know. And we would go over those things and...and sometimes they had to hurry off and...and look.... We would try to get their name and address. "We don't want you to join anything, but we'll see." Of course, they were from five boroughs [of New York City]. "We'll see, can't guarantee that maybe there's a church near you that preaches like we were preaching tonight." So that's about all you can do. If...if you can get a phone number on them and you knew somebody in your little circle of friends could follow up and take them out for a hotdog or something like that. So we did as best we could, you know, follow up. [It is] extremely difficult with...with...with street preaching. You really have to leave ninety-five percent of the work up to the Holy Spirit. The same thing that happened with me in Elmont, Long Island: Nobody followed up. There wasn't [pounds fist on table with each word] one person in that church who ever said, "How are you doing spiritually, Bill Drury?" Nice people, don't get me wrong. But, of course, as I said, I was...I was the maverick, the word got out (which was not true) that I had been a gangster, and I was not a gangster. And it might have been my sister-in-law (who was just a kid) ran up after I met Dorothy in the skating rink, I went over to her house the next night to take her out. I had a Fedora, I had one of the Alan Ladd raincoats (I don't know whether you know what I'm talking about [a trench coat similar to the ones actors like Alan Ladd and Humphrey Bogart wore in the movies]), I had a cigarette hanging out trying to look like a....
SHUSTER: Oh, Alan Ladd raincoats.
DRURY: Yeah Alan Ladd, Humphrey Bogart, and you tried to smoke like Humphrey Bogart or Edward G. Robinson and I knocked on he door [laughs] and she didn't even invite me in the house. She ran up the stairs and said, "Dorothy, Dorothy, there's a gangster downstairs! You're not going out with him." She said, "Yes, I am." But as I said, she was backslidden, badly backslidden. But that's what we did at street meetings. We...we...you know, you got out there, you...you tried to do the follow up, you invited...you invited people back to help you...to help you. A guy got saved at Broad and Wall Street and he said, "I do sketches. I think I...let me think on it but I think I can help you." So a week, maybe two weeks later he came back and he said, "Hey, I've got an idea. Can I draw on the blacktop?" (This is Broad and Wall Street), "Can I get down and draw on the blacktop and you preach about what I draw about?" I said, "What are you going to draw about?" And he showed me a sketch of this guy drowning, reaching for a life preserver. I said, "Go to it, buddy! You're on," you know.
SHUSTER: So you used chalks?
DRURY: Yeah, didn't use anything fancy, not like they do with black light or anything like that. He just got down on the blacktop [laughs] and the cars coming around the corner and.... You know we didn't get stopped, you know, we never got chased, the cops didn't say, "Who's that idiot?" And I don't know whether you ever heard and if you have any of the...anything in the Archives from Daddy Hall in New York, the mission in New York....
SHUSTER: No, we don't have anything from him.
DRURY: Well, of course, he's dead and gone, he's dead and gone. But Chrichton...Crayton Dunlap, but you'd know him because he's like almost seven foot tall. And I was preaching at Broad and Wall street one time and I felt this hand on my shoulder, "Preach it, brother. Preach it." And I turned around and here's the Jolly Green Giant, Crayton Dunlap. And later on, later on his brother, Alex, who was a realtor in Philadelphia served on our board.
SHUSTER: Now, Jack Wyrtzen and his group are also street preaching (this is a little earlier). Did you ever have contact with them?
DRURY: No, I never did. But the more I hear Jack reminiscing, we evidently preached on the same corners on different nights, or whatever. And when I was at NBI [National Bible Institute] he was holding his youth rally in the old CMA [Christian and Missionary Alliance] church in Manhattan. One of the preachers of bygone days was there (and if...if...if I heard the name I would know it) and Jack...Jack was somewhat of a novice himself, he was just getting started. But my buddy...one of my buddies at school cleaned that church on Saturday night after Word of Life [Wyrtzen's organization] got through with it and he got sick or he had to go so, so I cleaned that church once. I went over. He couldn't do it so I went over and I cleaned the church. But I got to know Jack. As a matter of fact, I got him...I got him a ride here a few weeks ago. Barbara, his secretary, called up and said, "Drury, Jack thinks that you know somebody with a plane." I said, "Well, I know several people with planes." "Well, he needs a ride out of Pottstown [Pennsylvania] and we don't want him to drive. He's seventy-five, seventy-four years of age, two hearing aids and if we could get him a flight out...." I said, "This is a small plane and at night." She said, "No, he's been in small planes before." So I got a friend of mine, Lloyd Miller, who's in the optical business. And it was short order. It was like on a Monday they called and they needed a plane. So I called and sure enough, he flew him from Pottstown up to Schroon Lake [New York, where Wyrtzen's organization had its headquarters]. And I saw Lloyd Miller just the other day and I said, "Did you bargain, you know ?" [laughs] He said, "I've got a free week for my wife and myself" [Shuster laughs] But.... Yeah. I said, "That's a good deal."
SHUSTER: [laughs] At Word of Life camp.
DRURY: That's about a thousand dollars. Yes, I'm sure we, you know...when he talked to some of the street corners.... But I never, never ran into him, never.... But then, I was only in New York just...just...maybe two years after I got saved, I was gone. And I...and I met this fellow. He asked me to come on Layman's Sunday to speak at Disston Memorial Presbyterian Church. Disston Memorial was endowed by the Disston sawmills and they have it made for, I guess, the millennium, whatever. But he asked me to come and speak on a Layman's Sunday and I did and in the following summer he was the author evangelist for the Presbyterian church. And in my testimony I said something about street preaching in New York. He said, "How would you like to come and be my associate?" [laughs]
SHUSTER: And that was Percy Crawford?
DRURY: No, no. That was...that was.... [pauses] Oh, his name just left me. A Presbyterian minister. And I said, "Yeah, let's do it." So I said, "There's some nights if I have to work overtime..." (I was still a businessman, I was a layman)....
SHUSTER: And this was in Philadelphia? When you were in Philadelphia?
DRURY: Philadelphia, with the Summer Outdoor Evangelistic Committee of the United Presbyterian...the U.S.A. Church. Back in those days (it shows you the switch)...but they would do an outdoor evangelism, they had a big sound truck. And the following summer he said, "I can't do it anymore. Will you take on the role of evangelist?" I said, "You've gotta be kidding! I'm no more an evangelist [unclear]." So I did it five nights a week...five nights a week, I was at two meetings a night. I would go right from the office, grab a hot dog or a hamburger on the way, get the sound truck out of Father Divine's [leader of a well known cult] garage . That's where they housed the truck. On the second floor there's a ramp. I could never understand it, they couldn't find a better place to house it. It was downtown and it was convenient. So I did it. I went out and I got PCB [Philadelphia College of the Bible] kids, college kids, I got...I got students out of Princeton Seminary and one of them accepted the Lord after a street meeting. And I got through preaching and speaking and.... Then you could have a...you could have a PA [electronic public address system] system, by the time that I was doing the street preaching) and we were putting the equipment away and he said to me, "Mr. Drury, can I call you Bill?" I said, "You can call me anything that you want if it's nice." He said, "It's probably gonna blow your mind, but I went to seminary to find what you were talking about tonight. I don't have that kind of relationship with God. I have no idea what you're talking about: a personal relationship." I said, "We'll go. We'll move the truck." (Because we were at Twelfth and Market in downtown, so we got the stuff and we went in some side street). I said, "This is the way it is." And I told him, I said, "You have to come to the end of your academic journey. Not that you don't want to complete your work, but forget the academics. You and God. A personal relationship with Almighty God through faith in Jesus Christ. Do you think that you could...you could identify with the Jesus who preached by the Sea of Galilee and up on the mountains and used perhaps a rock or a boulder for his...his...his pillow?" "No, no, I couldn't. I want what you have." I said, "No, no, no, no. You want what Jesus has to offer you. Not what I have." I said, "I could trip and fall, next week I might not show up at the street meeting." So he prayed, he really prayed. He prayed like a little child. I said, "I challenge you before God: You go back to the seminary and tell what happened in your heart tonight." [Chuckles] Now, I don't know if he ever did or.... But some of those kids would only show up once. It was an assignment. They had to do it. They had to get exposure to this type of thing. And a couple of guys that I had there were really aloof. They didn't believe a word I was saying.
DRURY: Not a word. And here they were full time seminary students up at Princeton Seminary.
SHUSTER: Were these street meetings different from the ones in New York in any way?
DRURY: Oh yeah.
SHUSTER: Were the crowds different or did you...
DRURY: Yeah, yeah.
SHUSTER: ...preach differently?
DRURY: Yeah. Yeah. Yup. Well, no, not preaching. I didn't. I didn't...I had some guys who wanted to work with me who were already pulpiteers and they were schooled in pulpitizing. (What I call pulpitizing [chuckles].) The semantics and all of that, you know.
SHUSTER: What do you mean by pulpitizing?
DRURY: Well, the three point outline, you know. [Assumes a solemn voice] "We see here in this verse, you know, it says so and so, one two three." A black guy...black gut came on board and he really wanted to preach. He wanted to sermonize and I told him over and over, "You can't do it. We're going to use the crowd. We're going to lose the crowd. We have got to be...they have got to be sermonettes, you know."
SHUSTER: They have got to be brief.
DRURY: Brief! Extremely. I...I do TV spots now and folks say to me, "Well, I hear they are two or three minute spots." I said, "They are thirty seconds. They are not two or three...." "How do you say what you say in thirty seconds ?" I say, "Listen, just listen to the spots." I don't know how many TV stations I am on. But it's a deal and a half, because I run them three times a day, so I have exposure around the clock and the stations have been good to me. But I learned...I learned in the streets of New York how to, as Percy [Crawford] said.... And, you know, we'll get into that, but he emphasized and reemphasized KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid, you know. [Shuster laughs] And he did, he did. You know, Billy Graham had his...his funeral and Billy told how Percy Crawford would come to Wheaton College and he called him Mr. Excitement. He'd show up every year, like I did for years at Moody and some of the other schools. I was there every year, year after year. Once a year. But he [Percy Crawford] he could preach the gospel in twelve minutes. I mean, the gospel. No...no.... And there were no changes, no changes. It was the gospel plain and simple. "You are a sinner, you are going to sinner's hell, you're going to a sinner's hell. You are going to spend all eternity.... And there is nothing to rededicate or recommit or anything like that. You need to accept Jesus or you are going to go to hell, you are going...." And in twelve minutes he would give an invitation. Jokingly he said he could preach his messages to a group of Fundamental pastors and some guy would get saved all over again, [both laugh], you know, being under conviction. But, yes, they were different in that you had a public address system. I had carte blanche to buy all of the records (we didn't have tapes, we had records back in those days)....
SHUSTER: Records of music or...?
DRURY: Music, music. Gospel music. So you would...you would try to warm up the crowd, you know, with a few records and then you'd start much the same way as you did. And people made suggestions and I used them. We...we never used music in New York. Never used music. Just got up and had three or four guys give little sermonettes. If there was a decision after the first guy got through, after Bob Shuster got through and spoke for five minutes and maybe had two decisions. You'd take those two off. [chuckles] Joe Shmoe would get up or Bill Drury, he would speak for five minutes. If there was a decision, you would take him off to a doorway, you know. You know, you look back and how you did it. Nobody would accept that today, nobody. But we did it. And people prayed serious prayers about getting right with God.
SHUSTER: Now would you be on the street corner for a hour, for the whole evening, for two hours. I mean, how long would you be there?
DRURY: New York?
DRURY: Four hours.
DRURY: From ten o'clock to two o'clock in the morning. Two AM. We were.... And the people were still coming out of the cabarets and the night clubs and the theater, wherever. That was the best.... [pauses] Well, it was a tossup between there and Jamaica Avenue as...as...as I look back. Fulton Street...Fulton Street was a week night and so we were probably a hour and fifteen minutes, an hour and a half. But Saturday night [sic] in Manhattan, we were there for four hours, even if I had to go to class the next day. We had three or four hours of classes at NBI on Saturday, because like they said, it was just a hodgepodge after World War II. They were trying to get the credits to you. But in Philadelphia, an hour and fifteen minutes, and hour and a half at the most.
DRURY: But the most difficult thing in the world was to let somebody participate and then tell him, you know, "We won't need you next week." Because, you know, they...and they were raised in a cloistered, Protestant type of thing, you know, and to try and communicate with street people and tell it like.... I...I almost got myself, you know, beat up. I was...I was...when I was working with the Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, I was out at 46th and Market. That was another place, that was a good place to have a street meeting. And I said something about being a priest, that we are all priests, you know. I said...sometimes we said...the person we knew as a priest.... I said, "We are priests once we come to know Jesus Christ." [laughs] This drunk came right through the crowd, you know, and grabbed me. "You ain't no priest! No priest talked like you! I'm going to punch your [Shuster laughs] blankety blank face out!" you know. Some of the other people got involved and pulled him off me, but man, I thought surely I was going to lose my teeth, you know. [Shuster laughs] So that happened again and again. We were challenged and I got spit on, spit in the face. But they were good days, they were thrilling days, they were exciting. And I wouldn't trade that, I wouldn't, you know, retract any of that for all the Bible schools and all the seminaries, you know, put together. I am sure the seminaries do a good job for people who are going to, hopefully, teach people, you know, the rest of their life in the pulpit. But by the same token, [pauses] there are things that a seminary cannot give you and that's zeal, that's enthusiasm. Billy [Graham] might have said or someone said it to Billy many years ago, that you preach as a dying man to dying men and that doesn't happen any more. It's just...at least, not in the circles that...and I travel in Evangelical and Fundamental circles, you know. One of the problems, one of the problems historically, and I have said it...I have preached at Grace Seminary [in Winona Lake, Indiana] and I have preached...in a few weeks I will be up at Biblical Seminary [in Hartford, Pennsylvania]. One of the problems is that somehow we think that we have to disseminate all of the things that we've learned to Pennsylvania Dutch farmers, you know, who maybe never...the man down the road from my home is a multimillionaire. He never graduated from the eighth grade. And here's somebody worth..... And Percy [Crawford] said...Percy said you have to get down to where the rubber meets the road. You have to ascertain who you are talking to and what their needs are. And...and you have to do this instantaneously. You don't have days or weeks or whatever, but you have to feel for the crowd. And these are some of the questions that are asked at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism over and over again. How does Billy relate with forty or fifty or sixty thousand people? How does he know what their needs are and so forth and so on. But street preaching, you have got to get it down to one syllable words and you have to be very, very careful that you don't use some of the cliches. "Being washed in the blood" [chuckles] When you say that, that's a yucky thing, you know.
SHUSTER: It sounds like Charles Manson.
DRURY: Black kids like we were with today, they said, "Hey man, ain't nobody is going to wash me in blood!' [chuckles] you know. And they want to know, "How am I going to come to know God by being washed in blood?" We know what it means, you know and.... Of course, some of my...some of my theological friends would say, "That's a good expression. Washed in the blood of the Lord, you know" I say, "You know what it means, I know what it means. Some ghetto kid, some doctor, lawyer in Manhattan walking along on Broadway or whatever, he... You see, you have to choose your words, you have to choose your words. Tomorrow morning, tomorrow morning, Bob, I'm going to be speaking at a maximum security prison up in Wilkes-Barre [Pennsylvania]. Now you certainly don't sermonize to a hundred and fifty maximum security prisoners. Like, even if I went to the First Presbyterian Church of...of Lancaster or Tenth Presbyterian Church [of Philadelphia]....Dr. Boice, James Montgomery Boice [pastor of Tenth Presbyterian] is a dear friend of ours and he cracks up.... I don't know if you know Dr. Frank Barker down at Briarwood. You ought to go there and see where they came from. He began a little church in an elite shopping area. And they tried to keep him out of the shopping area. Today he's got one of the biggest going Presbyterian churches. Probably got five thousand in it. But that's an incredible story. But again, Frank Barker (blessed be the name of God) is down where the rubber meets the.... He doesn't try to impress anybody. One of the problems with an awful lot of preachers and I could name a couple of guys on radio...radio and tv. And I won't, you know, try and impress people, you know. The only one that I want to impress is God Almighty [chuckles] that, "Hey, this klutz, this flunky, this little Irish kid from New York is trying to do something for me. Therefore I am going to bless him." I...I've said over so many years over [pauses] oh, it's almost forty years of ministry now, that there must be something we're doing right because God keeps blessing. There must be something we are doing right because God keeps blessing.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that when you were preaching, one guy tried to hit you. Sometimes you would get spit on. What would you do then?
DRURY: Sweat. Sweat.
SHUSTER: I mean, would you ignore it? Would you respond to it?
DRURY: Oh, no, no, you would try to talk fast. And I do talk fast. I talk too fast sometimes. But in my case, I'd say, "Wait a minute, man! Wait a minute. Wait a minute, man! You are hitting God's servant."
DRURY: "God loves you!" And a lot of these guys say, "Nobody loves...." "Wait. Wait. Wait. Before you throw the fist, God [pauses] loves [pauses] you. How do I know? This is a holy book. You see this book here? It's a holy book, it is filled with holy words from God." "You've got to be kidding!" "No, no, no. It's called the Holy Bible. That's why it's called the Holy Bible, because there's holy words in there. And there's a verse in there that tells me that God loves you." Percy Crawford...Percy Crawford preached day after day on the radio...radio and television. Young People's Church of the Air, Youth on the March. "Hand out a gospel of John and do a little fishing." "Hand out a gospel of John and do a little fishing." He said that repeatedly. If once, he said it ten thousand times. "Hand out a gospel...." Like B.E. Campbelltion in New York. He preached for Jack Wyrtzen, I would go up with him and...or in Philadelphia. And he would say to the cabbie, "Excuse me, young man. If...if...if I gave you a book about somebody who loved you, would you read it?" [chuckles] The cabbie would stare at him, downtown, big city, "I don't understand what you are saying. You have a book about someone who...? My WIFE doesn't love me." He's talking in the rearview mirror. I have seen this happen. "My kids don't love me. You've got a book about...?" "Answer the question. If I gave you a book free about somebody who...?" "If you've got a book about somebody who love me, I'll read it. I would like to read that. I'll go home and...." And then he would whip out a Gospel of John and hand out a Gospel of John. But you would try to talk your way out of it. Fortunately, fortunately I was never hit. I can't say that with some of our Teen Haven staff over the years. One guy got a broken nose, we have had two attempted rapes. I can go on and on with some of the problems in the Teen Haven ministry. But we have gone onto Satan's turf and I'm sure getting, you know, way ahead of myself. But it was in Philadelphia, when I transferred to Philadelphia that I got in CBMC and did a lot of speaking here, there and everywhere.
SHUSTER: Which is the Christian Business Men's Club?
DRURY: Christian Business Men's Committee, yeah. It is an international group. But Judge J. Griffiths was the...he was the chairman of it and he...I admired him as one of the outstanding witnesses, Christian layman. Very godly, Main Line individual. Main Line. ["Main Line" in the Philadelphia area means one of the city's social elite.] I could take a page out of his book as far as where he came from. But he got to be chairman. And I didn't realize what was happening, but every time that somebody resigned from a committee, he would call me up and say, "Bill, can we have lunch? Can you meet me in my chambers?" And he would go on and say, "You...you know Harry was in charge of the tract committee, you know. Handing out tracts, you know. And we need somebody to head that up and I know about your zeal. Would you head up...? Would you head up the street meeting committee?" Would I head that up? Fine. Then they thought they wanted to have a youth rally, a youth rally in Philadelphia. "You love kids, Bill." Went to the board meeting. And I was on the board of CBMC. The Robert Morris Hotel. Went to the board meeting one night and he asked for reports on the committees and I found myself giving report after report after report. And I thought, "Drury, you are a clown. You know, these other guys don't want to work." But we had this little youth rally and we might have got a hundred, a hundred and fifty kids on a Saturday night. Lo and behold somebody came and said, "Percy Crawford wants to hold a youth rally," or "He's willing to have a youth rally," and so forth and so on. And I got my back up in the air and I said, "We already have a youth rally." "And he said, "No, this is going to be a big deal." I said....
SHUSTER: Had you heard of him up to that point?
SHUSTER: Had you heard of him up to that point?
DRURY: Heard of him, heard of him. When I came up from New York City, they said, "You have to hear a man by the name of Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse," who was a great preacher-teacher. I didn't know. "And Percy Crawford." I didn't know who Percy Crawford.... He was a name I'd heard a couple of times in New York. And then they said, "You want to go see the Phillies and the Philadelphia Athletics [the city's professional sports teams]." They both played in Philadelphia at the time. Never saw the Phillies play back then. Now I come from Lancaster to Philadelphia, an hour-and-a-half, to...to see the Phillies play. Never heard Dr. Barnhouse speak in Philadelphia. I heard him in Sewanaka High School in Long Island. And I...somebody told me, pleaded, "Oh, you're kind of a [pauses] man, preacher, whatever." And he was at Snyder Avenue Baptist Church in South Philadelphia. We had two little boys. And we brought them down there on a hot summer night, no air conditioning back in those days. And he went through (which I later appreciated), you know, his kids singing and so forth and so on and the kids are squirming. I said to Dorothy, "Let's leave." She said, "He hasn't preached yet." I said, "I know. Let's leave." And I did. I left. Never heard.... Well, anyhow, he came and they had this meeting and one of the guys on CBMC pleaded with me to go to the planning meeting of this [tape recorder turned off and on again]
SHUSTER: ...rally after his heart attack.
DRURY: We finally put it together and Percy said, "I will be the front man, you know, and I will come and give the invitation first and third Saturday night." We only had the two Saturday nights. "But I will not raise any money for it." So I got involved as a layman. My role...my role was in charge of follow up, to get the names of the kids that came forward and to try and get the churches to follow up. And as I started to say before (went off on tangents), the biggest problem in evangelism is really to get churches to follow up people outside of their own church. To go on a visit, you know. And so I did that. I was in charge of the follow up. And one day.... Percy...Percy was the president of the King's College [New York]. I don't know if you have all his records and credentials out there or not. You should have. 'Cause the films, the films and stuff out there....
DRURY: I got out there when Shoemaker was there, Dr. Shoemaker was there [William Shoemaker, director of the Billy Graham Center in the early 1980s].... But he [Percy Crawford] would come down from the King's College. He was the president of the King's College, president of Youth on the March, the Young People's Church of the Air, the King's Korean Mission. You could go on and on and on. And that's a story that has to be told. His son Don Crawford might help you in that area. But he would come down and he would...he would not even emcee the program. It was a production type rally. It was not your typical Youth for Christ rally whatever. A big orchestra and a big forty, fifty voice...Starlighters, choral group called the Starlighters. And if you can imagine [chuckles] an Evangelical rally where...what we did, Bob, every first and third Saturday...there were a lot of Christian films around, back in those days that were half an hour long. And we were running from 7:00 to 7:30 for no other reason [sic] to get people in the auditorium. So at 7:30 you could you could turn down the house lights, bring up the stage light, throw on the spotlight and sing the theme song of Youtharama. And it was spectacular and it was just a production, like Broadway. It flowed. Another guy and myself, we did skits for no other reason...there was no point to the skit, other than to get that audience broken down, relaxed, you know, and we did some pretty dumb, weird things on...on the....
SHUSTER: Like what?
DRURY: Oh, we did...we blew out eggs you know. For lack of a better word (and I don't know if you ever saw vaudeville or not, have any idea), slapstick comedy. This one thing I remember. We went out and I said, "I'll show you something. You see that egg. It's a real egg. Is that a...?" "Yeah" And you're on the microphone, twelve hundred people there, fourteen hundred, most of them kids. "You can take that egg, I can take that egg and squeeze it as hard as I want and can't break it." "Oh, don't be an idiot. Anybody can break an egg." "No, no, no, no. You can't." So you take the egg end to end and you cannot break an egg when you squeeze it end to end. And he said, "That's fantastic! That's fantastic!" I said, "Hey, let's...let's do something for the kids out there, okay? I will hit that egg as hard as I can and it won't break." "Really?" "Yeah," I said. "You sit down." I said, "You might feel a little thud, but...." Of course he would try to squeeze it, and he said, "That's right, you can't break it." I said, "Listen. Hit it!" If I had a hammer I could break it. So I put the egg on his head, turned the thing sideways and hit it, and the egg would run down. Well, I took this egg out of this box of eggs. Now all the other eggs are blown out. [Shuster laughs] And then he would grab the box of eggs and I would start running out into the audience. And he would start throwing these eggs. You never heard such screaming in your life, you know. [Shuster laughs] And we did a lot of things like that. We...we had animals...we had animals on the platform, we had Western things.... The animals did their thing all over the stage; they were nervous. [Shuster laughs] But a lot of different things.
SHUSTER: Now this was all the C...this is still the CBMC...
DRURY: No, no, no.
SHUSTER: ...sponsored rally?
DRURY: This was a separate work which got incorporated called Youtharama.
SHUSTER: Oh, I see.
DRURY: That was...I folded up my little rally, and then I finally was convinced that this was of God, 'cause Percy Crawford was involved. And I got affiliated with that as a layman. And then Percy...Percy called me up from King's College and said, "Are you available for lunch on Monday?" I was still in the business world; I was still with Diebold [a manufacturer of locks and safes], still traveling. I said, "I can make myself available." By then I had a pretty halfway decent job; I had a big expense account and...and sort of had it made. And we had lunch. Chuck Pugh, who was our music director, who was just hired by Bibletown down in Florida, I found out.... And he's got to be as old as I am. [chuckles] I...I just got a letter from Art Larson down there. Art Larson, who is...is.... I...I heard that the other guy left. I don't know whether you'd heard that or not.
SHUSTER: Not Torrey Johnson? Oh, Hubbard.
DRURY: Hubbard. But at any rate, Chuck and Percy and I went out to a little place called the Lion's Den right alongside the Pinebrook Bookstore. That was another thing Percy started, was these bookstores. And we went out to have lunch, and making small talk and Percy...Percy always was using me as a sounding board. He didn't want my opinion, he...he just wanted a sounding board about "Fifty thousand dollars for the King's College, and one hundred thousand dollars and...." I would walk away from that luncheon with a headache, with all those numbers he was throwing out. Now I know what he was talking about, you know, thirty-five years later. So he said, "Oh, by the way, Bill, Chuck and I were discussing that we really should have somebody full-time. Chuck is in charge of the music, and he does a good job. And I'm up at the King's College, and we need somebody full-time." I said, "Percy, I've been saying that for months. We need somebody who really has...a hands-on situation, is close to the situation as...."
SHUSTER: Full-time with the youth rally?
DRURY: Yeah, full-time...full-time with the youth rally. And he said, "Well, we...we pretty well know what his credentials ought to be and everything." I said, "Fine." I said, "Do you have anybody...?" They said, "Yes, we have somebody in mind." [Shuster chuckles] I said, "Listen. When you come down again, let me know." I said, "I will set up the appointment, and...and...and we can interview him and get him before the board." "Oh, we...Chuck...Chuck has talked to the board members, and they're in agreement." I said, "Great. When do I get to meet him?" "Well, [pauses] you're it!" I said, "I'm what, Percy?" He said, "You're the man we've been thinking of." I said, "Percy." I said, "You are stark raving mad, Percy. You've really got a problem." I said, "I know the financial situation. I've got a wife, and I've got kids, I've got a house I'm buying, I've got a car I'm buying." And that was '56, 1956...in October 1956 and by that time I was buying a house, and I was buying...I was buying a new car...a brand new car because the expense account would pay for the car. So I said, "You're stark...." I said, "God bless you. Goodbye. I'll see you." I got up from that table...that booth.... I could take you to the place if it's still there. I walked out. I walked out. My office was their office. It was right next door, or whatever. And I walked. I walked from Seventh and Chestnut back to my office at wherever so upset that I forgot that I left my car down at Seventh and Chestnut. I got back to Sixteenth and Washington, and my car was down there. And I was sick, I was sick for days.
SHUSTER: You were upset because....?
DRURY: Because I...I...I said no. I had turned it down. And yet, in my mind, I had lied again and again. To kids as a layman I would go out and speak, and say, "Where God wants you to go, you go," you know. "Where He leads you, you must follow. What He feeds you, you must swallow." I said this again and again. I talked to my wife, and she said, "You're out of your mind if you even consider it," you know. A couple weeks later he was going to be out at Grace Chapel, at Eagle and Oakmont Road. And he wanted me to say a word about the...about the follow-up. What do we do, how do we do it, and so on and so forth. And I used to take time...I used to take time...and the company knew it. On Monday morning for a couple of hours I was over in that office trying to get the mail out and the letters for the kids who made decisions. They decided on Saturday night [to accept Christ as Savior], we got a letter out to them and to the church that they put on their card on Monday morning. But anyhow, I went out to church, and man, I was...I was flip-flopping all the way out. I thought, "Have I lied to God? Did I tell God a pack of lies about my life?" Because I kept saying, "I have a craving to serve the Lord. I want to serve the Lord," you know. And I can take you...again...I can take you...I came up the stairs, and the railing was there, and Percy was waiting on the platform. And I got a hold of Percy's arm, and I almost started bawling. And I didn't cry much back in those days - now I cry at everything. I said, "Percy," I said, "you've got a flunky. You just hired a flunky." Bob, I went with that organization. Ten solid weeks I went without salary. That's gospel, that's in the records. And I never did get it...never did get it. I maybe got one or two salaries...one or two..... I found out they were in debt and I couldn't believe it...I couldn't believe it. That was...if my memory serves good, they started in October, and that was March...March of '57, maybe, when I went with them. Being with Diebold, you know, doing everything decently and in order, we sold rotordecks [sp?] and big files, and all of that. And I thought that the King's business, you do immaculately, you know. And I asked for the books. I said, "I'll come on one cond...." "Well, so-and-so has the books, he runs the bookstore, you know." And I had to plead with that guy and I knew when I got them why he didn't want to give them to me. "The books" was a ledger...was a ledger with the invoices stuck in there [Shuster laughs] with a rubber band around it. And I went home and I said to my wife, "Dorothy, I did...the stupidest thing that I ever did in my life was leaving Diebold."
DRURY: I said, "This is a Mickey Mouse organization." You see the big rally and the spectacular...and you thought, "Man, it's a big org...." There was nothing behind it, it was nothing behind it, as far as organization. And I determined in my heart...they had told me, a couple of board members had told me, "We might be two thousand dollars in debt." I said, "I want to be at every board meeting." I said, "I don't want to be on the board. I want to be there and I want to have my say." And lo and behold, when I got all the invoices.... And this was '57.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. And that's when you joined, in 1957?
SHUSTER: That when you went full-time, I meant to say.
DRURY: Yeah. And they were seven thousand dollars in debt. And that was a lot of money, a ton of money. And there were people ready to come down on us and I could tell you story after story. I went over to town hall. That's where we had this big rally and it was an auditorium that seated twenty-two hundred. On occasion we filled the place. And that's where Billy Graham spoke at Percy's funeral [ in 1957] and we had...we had probably twenty-five, twenty-seven hundred people inside that building, in the aisles and.... I was told that there were between five and seven hundred people out on the pavement who never got into town hall. And then we had a crowd in the lobby who couldn't hear anything. But it seated...it seated twenty-two hundred people. And I went down there, I used to get there early. We would start the rehearsal at three o'clock. I would there at a quarter of. And the Jewish guy who was the manager of the town hall was waiting outside for me. He said, "We're not opening the doors today." [Shuster chuckles] He said, "You're three weeks behind, three rallies behind." And I think it was two hundred fifty dollars a night, so it was like seven hundred fifty dollars that we owed him. And I said, "I beg of you, please, please! The kids are going to be coming here. The least you could have done was to try to reach me." And I got to a phone [unclear] and the first time in my life...nobody likes to ask anybody for money. And I started calling different people. I got "No", "No", "No", and I had to give him some money that day! And I finally got a hold of Phil Baur who is now chairman of the board of Tasty Baking...
DRURY: ...who are here in the east [coast of the United States]. He said, "Do you have anybody with a car who can get up here? I'll have a check for you for seven hundred and fifty dollars to pay that guy off." And, man, I went back and I told him, "The check is on its way. Your check is on...." I said, "I've got this check made out. You can have this check. You can't cash it anyhow until Monday [Shuster chuckles] and the other check is coming." So...but it was a new experience, a new experience and....
SHUSTER: Did you become then more or less the business manager?
DRURY: Oh, I...I was everybody. I was the guy who went out and did the preaching and exposing people [to the gospel] and holding youth rallies in other communities and speaking at Youth for Christ and the next thing I knew I was traveling from here to Canada, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, all over New Jersey preaching Saturday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night, running, running, running. And they were identifying me with Percy Crawford, that I was Percy's assistant.
SHUSTER: Who's they?
DRURY: [Pauses] Church people....
DRURY: Yeah. Church people, Evangelical community. Like Leighton Ford is Billy Graham's brother-in-law. Now that's supposed to mean something, I guess. I don't know. So they invite Leighton Ford for crusades [evangelistic meetings], you know. So the next I know I was running constantly and the first time I was asked out to have a week of meetings, I couldn't believe it. [laughs] I could go for one or two nights, but a whole week, you know! So all of a sudden I learned by the seat of my pants. I flew, I guess, like [Dwight L.] Moody and [Billy] Sunday. I just did it! You had to do it and I held...I held...I guess the longest crusade I ever held was two weeks. About sixteen days from one Sunday to another Sunday. That is a story in itself how that happened.
SHUSTER: This might be a good point to stop...
DRURY: All right.
SHUSTER: ...when you went full-time with Youtharama and perhaps another time when it's convenient for you...
SHUSTER: ...we can pick up from here.
DRURY: Sure. Yeah.
DRURY: I'd love to get out....
SHUSTER: Let me just....
END OF TAPE