Annie Joe Dawson (transcript only)

INTERVIEWER: Pauline Rhiner
INTERVIEWEE: Annie Joe Dawson (Mrs. John Dawson)
DATE OF INTERVIEW: February 9, 1986

Re: North Shore Baptist–

My earliest memory of the church is of my parents who had come here from Texas, and visited at least three other churches before picking this one. When we first came here, they were playing the Benediction. My mother said to my dad and me, “If someone speaks to us after the Benediction, this will be our church.” They did and we joined. The church was first at Leland and Racine. When we outgrew that church, there was great, great discussion about where to go. Finally, this site was picked. People came from all over to the church and also gave money to build it. Later there was a fire which destroyed the whole building. It was a tragedy. However, it was rebuilt.

The church congregation was very large at one time. They had over 1,000 in the Sunday School classes. They were in a contest with a church in St. Louis, and at another time with one in Ohio regarding membership in the Sunday School classes. The numbers rose to 2,000 attendees.

The Chinese began coming to our church way back, before I was married, which is over fifty years ago. Quite a few came into the neighborhood who couldn’t even speak English, so we decided to help them. Each Chinese man had a volunteer teacher. We did this on Sunday afternoons. The Chinese learned very quickly, we were so proud of them. After awhile the Chinese had their own services in our church. Later they acquired their own church. We were so pleased with their progress. Since then, we have Spanish-speaking. More recently, we have had Filipinos, too. Our Assistant Pastor today is Filipino. Today, we have a beautiful mixture. I have been active teaching Sunday School for many, many years.

I met my husband at this church, too. My husband, John, was very active with the boyscouts. The troop started in the old church. Because my husband was such an active scout leader, someone suggested to him that he might like to teach Sunday School. He had not been active up to that time, but he really loved teach­ing Sunday School.

Howell Hall, here, is named after my parents who were members of this church. Mr. Ernest Ridgeway was another prominent member of our church.

I attended a small private school on Hollywood, which is still there. Mr. Kraft was another influential member who contributed a beautiful window which is called The Jade Window. He started out cutting the glass himself, but it proved to be too much, so he got help with it.

The big bas-relief at the entrance to the church came from the Century of Progress which was done by Lorado Taft and was in the Hall of Religion. Mr. Kraft obtained it for our church. Mrs. Kraft is still living; she’s about 98.

There were many activities in the early days of the church which involved many people, especially the young people. The gym was a popular spot.

One evening we were returning from having dinner with friends in Park Ridge and when we turned on the radio they were describing a horrible fire which was in progress at the North Shore Baptist Church. They never found out what caused it. Of course they had to rebuild. In recent years, the church has been involved with Care for Real, and has also furnished a meal site for meals for the elderly. The church building is not used just on Sunday. Prayer meetings on Wednesday nights is an integral part of the Baptist tradition.

I like to make ceramics and have made a great many things for money-raisers for the Baptist Children’s Home. I learned to do ceramics while on summer vacation at the Baptist Camp.

I was married at the North Shore Baptist Church and even had my wedding reception there; that was over fifty years ago. The church has been a very important part of my life.

Clark Street –

Most of the buildings on Clark Street were built over 50-60 years ago. Some have been kept up, others have not.