Sunday, May 31, 2015

Daniel Webster Brainard: Dead and Alive!

Early last winter, while visiting Grinnell's Hazelwood Cemetery, I encountered a most unusual grave marker: fashioned out of stone or cement to resemble a tree, the marker reached skyward perhaps seven feet; the top gives the appearance of having been chopped off, and several would-be branches  likewise appear to have been sawed off; a sculptured vine circles the trunk onto which were inscribed the vital particulars of Daniel W. Brainard (1837-1919), his wife Susie Kingdon Brainard (1841-1930), and their infant son, Lewis (d. 1875). I was not the first to notice this unusual stone, as Hazelwood's Find-a-grave website confirmed. But there was nothing like this stone anywhere else in the cemetery.  I resolved, therefore, to try to learn more about the people to whom the marker was dedicated, and, if possible, why this particular kind of grave marker was erected over their remains.
Gravestone for Daniel W. Brainard, Susie Kingdon Brainard, and their son, Lewis, Hazelwood Cemetery, Grinnell, IA
Like many others who found their way to Grinnell in the nineteenth century, Daniel Webster Brainard came from the more settled northeast.  Born and raised in Middlebury, New York, he married Susan Kingdon in Stafford, New York in 1863; five years later the couple moved to Iowa, settling on a farm five miles east of Grinnell where Brainard resumed the dual careers of farming and teaching that he had pursued in New York.  In 1884 the Brainards moved into Grinnell, occupying a house at 528 Broad Street (now demolished).  Brainard  developed a business in insurance and real estate, and after 1895 became secretary for the newly-incorporated Home Loan and Savings Association headquartered at 815 Fourth Avenue, just across the street from Brainard's business office at 808 Fourth.

By most measures Brainard was a very successful man. While farming near Malcom, Brainard owned and bred champion Poland-China hogs, and later, after moving into Grinnell, he continued to raise and sell Wyandotte chickens, then still a relatively new breed.  According to the 1915 Iowa census, Brainard's insurance and realty business generated an annual income of around $500, which was not princely. Nevertheless, Grinnell College records show that he gave freely, once donating $100, even though he was not an alumnus of the college.

His intellectual interests were broad, explaining in part how for more than a decade he regularly contributed monthly weather reports for Grinnell to the U.S.Weather Service. These traits impressed L. F. Parker, who in his History of Poweshiek County called him "a thoughtful man, of wide observation."

In addition, Parker continued, "In religious belief he is a confirmed Spiritualist and is fully persuaded that communication has been opened with disembodied spirits that once inhabited this world." Only a handful of Spiritualists were known to Brainard's Grinnell where the more conventional claims of the Methodist and Congregational churches dominated local religious practice. Even Brainard's wife, Susie, was raised in the Episcopal church, no doubt a legacy of her immigrant parents' Anglican roots. But Daniel, who was an associate member of the American Society for Psychical Research, evidently converted her to Spiritualism, as both their funerals were under the direction of Eva McCoy, a well-known Iowa medium.

Brainard's obituary reports that he was both a Mason and an Odd Fellow and, although unmentioned in his obituary, he also belonged to the Improved Order of Redmen as well as to Modern Woodmen of America.  The Improved Order of Redmen continues to operate, but no longer has any bases in Iowa; it appears that Grinnell's lodge (Modoc, no. 67) came into being in the late nineteenth century as an experiment and did not survive long: the last mention of the Grinnell lodge in the organization's records came in 1898. 
A group of Modern Woodmen of America in uniform (ca. 1910)
But the Woodmen had a different and more successful history. Founded in Lyons, Iowa in 1883 (but now headquartered in Rock Island, IL) by Joseph Cullen Root, Modern Woodmen of America is a non-profit, fraternal benefit society, organized into local lodges. Originally membership was restricted to white males 18-45 in the twelve "healthiest states." Moreover, urban residents were excluded, as were those who pursued occupations judged to be unhealthy (miners, almost everyone connected with railroads, sailors, et al.), all this in an effort to protect the low-cost death benefits insurance. In 1890, Root had a falling-out with the organization's leadership, and he resigned, soon thereafter founding in Omaha, NE a rival fraternal benefits organization, Woodmen of the World. Like its predecessor, Woodmen of the World intended to blend both the social benefits of a fraternity with the financial benefits of insurance.  But Woodmen of the World offered a special tombstone benefit: beginning in 1900 members could purchase a $100 rider to their policies with which to pay for a grave marker for which the organization provided a pattern—originally a five-foot tree trunk for adults and a three-log stack for children. As costs grew, the program was abandoned in the 1920s, but by that time the tree-stump monuments had become well-known in America's cemeteries. Often, although not always, the monuments included symbols of the Woodmen—an ax, wedge and mallet—or would cite the Latin slogan of the group: "Dum Tacet Clacet" (Though silent, he speaks).

Brainard's Hazelwood gravestone strongly resembles the designs attributed to Woodmen of the World, although the stone bears none of the identifying markers frequently seen on WOW gravestones—no Latin slogan, and no ax, wedge or mallet. On the other hand, it appears that Woodmen of the World grave markers were often modified to suit the beneficiary's taste, and omitting the slogan or the logo was not unusual, so it is conceivable that Brainard used a WOW plan.
Reverse side of Brainard Grave Marker, Hazelwood Cemetery

Unfortunately, however, although there is evidence that Woodmen of the World had some activity in Grinnell in 1898 (its records confirm that a certificate had been issued in Grinnell), nothing survives to connect Brainard himself with that organization; quite the contrary, as noted above, Brainard was a member and officer in the parallel organization, Modern Woodmen of America. It may be, therefore, that, even if Brainard took inspiration from the WOW designs, his stone depends upon the more common symbolism of grave markers—a topped tree trunk denoting a life cut short  (especially relevant for their infant son, who did not live to see his first birthday) and the climbing ivy may point to the immortality at the heart of Brainard's Spiritualist convictions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Final Act: Rev. Bridge in New York

Spring 1923 the Grinnell Herald published several "Drama League Notes" that Bridge authored from afar, reporting on New York performances of Chekhov's "Cherry Orchard," among other works. Evidently this exposure gained him entree to the Russian acting community, as Bridge reported having been "thrown much amongst the Russians of late; a very interesting and stimulating experience, for they are tremendously alive." Present in the theatre when Isadora Duncan performed before a Russian audience, Bridge described the occasion as "one of the greatest thrills I ever had...I was entirely swept off my feet, as was the whole audience." And Bridge found in the experience an important lesson:  "After living in the Middle-west I am struck by the complete freedom of expression I see amongst these people. They are so riotously happy, so uninhibited...."
St. John's Episcopal Church, Boonton, New Jersey

Whether this finding helped him in his clerical position is not clear, but by October 1925 a northern New Jersey newspaper reported that Rev. Bridge was serving temporarily at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boonton.  Subsequent mentions indicated that Bridge had made a favorable impression, and on February 6, 1926 The Jerseyman announced that Bridge had "accepted the call to become permanent rector of this church...and will move to Boonton."

According to his 1928 declaration for U.S. citizenship, Rev. Bridge took his third wife in September 1926, marrying in Morristown, New Jersey.  But no evidence of this marriage could be found in New Jersey state archives nor in the archives of Morris County or in Morristown local records.  That there was a third wife—Myrtle or "Peg" who was born in Augusta, GA February 15, 1891—is not in doubt: Joan Chandos Bridge told her daughter about the numerous mean and demented behaviors she showed her step-children. In one story recounted in the Joan Baez memoir, Joan Chandos had to interrupt her father's Sunday morning liturgy because Peg was chasing Pauline with a knife.  This third partnership soon soured, although, so far as I could find out, the couple never divorced; they lived apart, and evidently had little to do with one another.

As in Grinnell, in New Jersey Rev. Bridge maintained several parallel positions: next to his clerical cure Bridge held appointment at Hunter College as Professor of English and Dramatics.  Exactly what courses he taught at Hunter remain unclear, but a story in the 1929 Brooklyn Daily Eagle detailed complaints lodged against Bridge by the parents of one of his female students. Bridge derided the complaints as a "false interpretation" imposed upon "a perfectly legitimate friendship."  The girl was unhappy at home, he reported, so she sought his advice; "he counseled her, tried to advise her, took her to dinner, the theater and finally obtained for her a position with a liberal school."  The college was evidently unhappy with this explanation, and, although the trustees did not condemn him, they accepted his resignation.

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, Bridge was preoccupied with community theater, just as he had been in Grinnell. From at least fall 1928 he was active in the Mountain Lakes Dramatic Guild, that autumn directing Owen Davis's "Ice Bound."  Other plays followed, interspersed with Bridge's dramatic readings, which had also been part of his Grinnell years.  In late 1928, for example, he gave readings from Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" and William Vaughn Moody's "The Great Divide." Bridge added to his readings "the newly perfected color-organ which provides a running accompaniment of color tones to interpret the passages under discussion."

At exactly that time Rev. Bridge was involved in a much-reported libel suit lodged against him by Mrs. Helen Brumley Baldwin, who chaired the defense committee of the local chapter of the D.A.R.  Apparently the controversy arose from a newspaper column in which Bridge expressed sympathy for peace movements, and later wrote to accuse Mrs. Baldwin of "lying imputations and her customary stunt of labeling anything or anybody she doesn't agree with as communist." Rev. Bridge went on to associate Mrs. Baldwin's views with the K.K.K and other disreputable groups.

The suit received a great deal of publicity, and was widely reported, so that, when in October, 1928 the judge refused to endorse the charge, Bridge gained a great deal of attention as a partisan of leftist interests.  Bridge put it more eloquently in the Trenton Evening Times of October 11, 1928: "The general policy of super-patriots in attempting to discredit all persons of liberal views by tying them up with Communist activities has received a death blow by the exposure this case has brought about."
Children's Percussion Band, The Modern School, ca. 1925.  Pauline Bridge is 3rd from right.

In these years Rev. Bridge seems to have become increasingly close to various radical causes. According to the historian Paul Avrich, already in 1923 Bridge and his family became part of the anarchist community at Stelton, New Jersey that created the Modern School.  I could not confirm that the Bridges resided in one of the modest cabins that community residents built and occupied, but it's clear that the Bridge children were part of the school. Pauline Bridge Henderson, older sister of Joan Chandos Bridge, in 1958 contributed a memoir of her time at the Modern School, and the record describes her as a daughter of a staff member.  Photographs from those years show the children costumed for performance, perhaps a reflection of Bridge's teaching and his on-going commitment to drama as a vehicle to personal development.

At about this time Bridge became acquainted with Jacob Moreno (1889-1974), a Romanian-born psychiatrist who was influential in developing a therapy he called psychodrama. The idea was to have individuals "act out their emotions by reacting to others." Spontaneity and feedback played vital roles in this therapy, and highlighted Moreno's conviction that "a community that embraced principles of spontaneity and creativity was possible and a goal worth working toward." In 1929 Bridge and Moreno collaborated to publish Impromptu vs. Standardization (later republished in Psychodrama Monographs, no. 4, 1944), a brief explanation of the intersection of personal health and drama. His belief in the importance of drama to personal development continued to find him interested audiences. In August 1929, for example, the Brewster [New York] Standard reported that Bridge gave a talk to a local group on "Drama Rediscovered," in which he reported on his collaboration with Dr. Moreno. The central question he raised, the paper announced, was "What can we do in the machine age to preserve the integrity of the human personality?" The answer, Bridge fervently believed, lay within the exercise of and public presentation of drama.

By the time of the 1930 census, Bridge and his wife were living at 195 Claremont Avenue, New York City. That autumn the New Republic reported on the founding of the All-World Gandhi Fellowship, an organization that proved central to Rev. Bridge's last years.  The founding announcement did not mention Bridge, but by 1933 at the latest Bridge was acting as Executive Director of the organization.  Scarsdale newspapers began to publish stories of Bridge meeting with various visiting figures—many of whom were from India—"all of whom are giving their time and talent toward the realization of world fellowship through cultural and religious unity."

In May 1933 the New York Times reported that the All-World Gandhi Fellowship had acquired "a large colonial farmhouse in Mount Kisco...for use as a fellowship center." Subsequent articles called Bridge "the Big Mogul" of the organization, the person from whom one obtained details about stays available at the Center. Other reports recounted occasions when Bridge hosted visiting luminaries who participated in the work of the Center; Bridge was also often featured as speaker to Westchester County groups gathered to hear about and donate to the Center.

Meantime, the Center maintained an active schedule: it hosted a tea for Ruth St. Denis, the American dancer; offered classes in "rhythmics and dancing, violin, art with outdoor sketching, science through countryside study, [and] drama with professional direction." No doubt Bridge himself provided that "professional direction," as a summer, 1934 article in the Scarsdale Inquirer announced the Center's first dramatic production at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Mount Kisco.  Bridge directed two plays—Zona Gale's "Neighbors" and Hildegarde Flanner's "Mansions."  In September a second gathering in Mount Kisco enjoyed a "dance-drama recital," with "dances illustrating the work of the, the and the Duncan school."

Clearly the Center served Bridge well, permitting him not only to exercise his social and political interests, but also to serve and develop his commitment to drama.  Consequently, when the Center burned down in April, 1935—as reported by the New York Times—Bridge felt the loss keenly. He continued to remain active, although he no longer had the same vehicle through which to advance his ideas. In late 1936, for instance, he gave a talk at New York Junior High School No. 136 on "Developing Personality and Speech through Dramatics," and that same year he published Actor in the Making: A Handbook on Improvization [sic] and other Techniques of Development.

By this time Rev. Bridge was apparently living alone and was seriously ill. He entered New York's St. Luke's hospital November 28, 1936, and never left until his death, March 4, 1937. His daughter Pauline claimed the body, presumably because Bridge remained estranged from his wife, Peg. The day after his death the New York Times published an obituary, among other things crediting Bridge with having established the Mount Kisco fellowship center "as an educational project for the promotion of peace."

So ended the life of this remarkable man: born in London, he died in New York, bookending his life in two of the world's great cities.  In between he resided in Edinburgh, then in the rural outback of Canada's British Columbia before moving to the United States, where he served churches in Moscow, Idaho as well as Boonton, New Jersey.  In the midst of all this, he somehow set down briefly in Grinnell, Iowa, where he managed to combine occasional service to the Episcopal church with an intense devotion to theater, nurturing both collegiate and community theater in Grinnell.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rev. Bridge and Drama in Grinnell

One of Rev. Bridge's first contributions to Grinnell was to institute a regular dramatic reading on campus—every Monday evening. "I believe we need to hear more literature," the Scarlet and Black quoted Bridge as having said; "To speak our literature is to humanize it." Thereafter the campus newspaper regularly reported on Bridge's readings, which were sometimes supplemented by Mrs. Bridge singing.  Readings drew from the classics as well as from plays now largely forgotten—including among the former Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and among the latter J. M. Barrie's "The Will" and Edgar Burrill White's "Master Skylark."

Spring semester 1921 the college drama class took over alternate Mondays, offering short dramas with student directors.  In late February they put on "These Mothers" written by Mary Harris (evidently a student in the class), followed in April by "The Tricking of Malvolio," based on extracts from Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."
Colonial Theater

In February, 1921 Bridge himself took to the boards to star with his wife in Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer," presented at the Colonial Theater at Fifth and Main.  According to the rarely critical Scarlet and Black, "Mrs. W. H. Bridge, together with Mr. Bridge, were the real stars, both in name and in of the most successful productions seen here for some time."

Summer 1921 the Countryside Community theatre of Grinnell put on twelve plays "under God's stars" in the six weeks between July 4th and August 12th.  "Mrs. Pat and the Law" by Mary Aldis; Margaret Cameron's "The Burglar"; Richard Harding Davis's "Miss Civilization" and Doris Haiman's "Will o' the Wisp" were among the plays featured in the summer. In an adaptation of "Pied Piper" Elizabeth and Edward Ricker joined others to represent the "children and rats," and Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Child, Jr. took the leads in "The Wonder Hat" and "A Tramp and a Night's Lodging," a comedy base upon a Swedish folk tale.  Hallie Flanagan, a college drama colleague, joined Bridge to direct the shows, and also starred in "Suppressed Desires."

What Bridge called "the people's playhouse" featured a wide range of adult and child actors, often  under the direction of Bridge himself.  The Kiwanis club provided basic support to the enterprise (guaranteeing to cover any deficit), and numerous Grinnell merchants advertised on the pages of the programs.
Courtesy of Digital Grinnell; original copy in Collection #100, Local History Room, Drake Community Library

Receipts indicate that the endeavor was a big success.  In the second bulletin Bridge reported that from the first seven shows they had collected about $370, despite what he recalls was some initial opposition to charging for admission.  As Bridge put it, "The only way to make Community theatre a democratic institution is to give everybody a chance to 'chip in.'"  Over and above admission receipts, many in town evidently volunteered to help out—with stage building, music (an orchestra was assembled and became a regular feature part-way through the summer schedule), and in many other ways. But the Kiwanis were the volunteer backbone, supporting Community Theatre with a "General Committee" (that included B. J. Ricker, G. H. McMurray, H. L. Beyer and other local worthies), a Finance Committee (Beyer, Ricker, McMurray and J. H. Patton), a Productions Committee, and a Building Committee (that featured two of the town's lumber merchants).

With the continued support of the Kiwanis club (this time Jesse Fellows was among Kiwanians responsible for "General Management"), in December, 1921 the Community Playmakers (as they styled themselves) put on Haddon Chambers's four-act play, "Passers By" at the Colonial. Bridge directed (again with the assistance of Hallie Flanagan) and also was responsible for makeup; Mrs. Bridge took the part of Mrs. Summers, and young Joan Chandos Bridge filled the role of Little Peter Summers. Again the college newspaper found much to praise, calling the production "clever," and praising Mrs. Bridge and her co-star, Mrs.Virden.  Moreover,  "Joan Chandos Bridge was delightful in his [sic] part of Little Peter Summers."
Joan Chandos Bridge (; photo credit unknown)
The play's success generated invitations to repeat the production in Sioux City and Des Moines, and, perhaps because Bridge was an officer in the Iowa Little Theatre Committee, the group was invited to stage the production in Chicago at the national convention of the Drama League of America in April, 1922, with Mrs. Bridge and Joan Chandos Bridge reprising their roles. By all accounts the drama proved a success, and Bridge had a chance to address the convention. According to the report later published in the Grinnell Herald, he argued that the "middle western town or small city has as much culture and appreciation for art per capita, as have Chicago and New York.  His plea was for greater recognition of the smaller cities."

Much the same sentiment appeared in an article in the group's journal, The Drama: "Grinnell, Iowa, is a little college town of only 5,000, yet it has some of the most active, up-to-date successful [drama] centers that we have, with a membership of over one hundred...They belong to the Iowa Little Theatre Circuit and are supplying a company for touring in 'Passers By.' Moreoever, they are to have the first exchange performance on the circuit..."

So well-received was the 1921 community theater that there was considerable sentiment in 1922 for repeating the previous summer's outdoor theater. A major obstacle arose, however, when Bridge  declined to be part of the project: a June issue of the college newspaper speculated that an advanced drama student would be put in charge, but local newspapers made no further mention of the summer theater, suggesting that the plan had collapsed.

Despite his reported enthusiasm over dramatic developments in little towns in the heartland, when granted academic leave in early 1923, Bridge immediately took the opportunity to move to New York City where he anticipated attending lots of plays "and in doing some writing which he has long had in mind."  And so began a new chapter in the life of this remarkable clergyman and drama enthusiast.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Joan Baez's Grinnell

Welcome to "Grinnell Stories," a blog that aims to resurrect stories from Grinnell's past, and thereby undermine the sometimes inevitable feeling that things were always this way. "The past is a foreign country," someone is supposed to have said, but it is too easy to assume that the present is only an extension of the past.  I hope that these posts will undermine that assumption, and perhaps also bring us all a little fun.
So, let's begin. Joan, not that Joan Baez, but Joan Baez senior (as she was sometimes called). Yes,  Joan Baez the guitar-playing singer has been to Grinnell, most recently in November, 2006.  But long before that Joan Baez came to Grinnell, her mother—Joan Chandos Bridge Baez (1913-2013), "Big Joan"— lived in Grinnell because her father, Rev. William H. Bridge, taught at Grinnell College from 1920 to 1923.  During that time, the family lived first at 1110 West St. (now demolished) and then at 1215 Broad St.  The third year Rev. Bridge gained a leave of absence that he spent in New York, where he decided to remain, apparently never returning to Grinnell.

But I'm getting ahead of myself; let's rewind the story and start at the beginning.
William H. Bridge, 1923 Grinnell College Cyclone
William Henry Bridge was born in London to Henry James Bridge and the former Ellen Gibbon June 25, 1884. His father was a mercantile clerk (later a banker), who provided a home for his wife, his mother-in-law, William (his eldest son), two daughters (Mabel and Violet), and another son, Harold.  At the time of the 1891 London census, the Bridge family was sufficiently rich to employ a live-in servant at their home at 26 Halsey Road, Hyde Park, London.  By the time census-takers arrived at their 1901 home in Tottenham, Middlesex, Henry Bridge was dead, and Ellen Bridge and her mother maintained the household that now included another sister for William, Dorothy (age 7); by then William was sixteen and apparently contributed to the household income, working as a commercial clerk.
St. Ethelburga Parish Register, Dec. 1898

By 1908 William was ordained as deacon, and later that year he married Florence Annie King in London's St. Ethelburga parish. Bridge then accepted a post as Carlisle Curate at St. George's church in Millom, Cumberland where he served until 1910.  In these years Bridge was also studying at Durham University to receive his bachelor's degree and an L. Th., both preliminary to his being ordained to the priesthood in 1910. He then accepted a position as Carlisle curate at St. John the Evangelist church in Edinburgh.  Eldest daughter Pauline was born in Cumberland in 1910, and second daughter Joan in Edinburgh in 1913.

For reasons unknown, Rev. Bridge decided to emigrate from the United Kingdom, and in late November, 1913 he and his family boarded the R.M.S. Hesperian in Glasgow, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia November 30.  It may be that Bridge had earlier arranged an appointment in British Columbia, because he next surfaces in the records as Minister in Charge of Arrow Lake Mission (now known as St. Mark's Anglican Church) in B.C. Two years later he accepted appointment as Rector, Christ Church, Cranbrook, B. C., by this time making a life for himself and his family in the Canadian West. In 1916 he published an essay as well as a book of "folly and wisdom compiled by the average man." And the following year he joined with several others to edit the local newspaper during a vacancy in the editorial staff.

But 1916 also brought hardship: his wife Florence died in January, 1916, leaving the churchman in charge of two small children. Whether for this reason or others, in June, 1917 Rev. Bridge married Mabel Amelia Roberts, also an immigrant, her family having hailed from Torquay, England.  Almost immediately thereafter Bridge announced that he had received an offer to become rector of St. Mark's Church, Moscow, Idaho.  The family entered the U.S. in September, 1917, with Rev. Bridge assuming his duties at St. Mark's and also working as an instructor in English at the University of Idaho.  Bridge's name appears occasionally in newspapers of the region, but he seems to have exerted a relatively small influence on life in Moscow; for the most part, he appears in the records as officiant for weddings, funerals and other church rituals.  In November, 1918, five years after having abandoned Scotland for North America, the second Mrs. Bridge gave birth to a son, Robert Andrew.

In one of her memoirs, the younger Joan Baez, relaying her mother's stories, describes her grandfather as having had a weakness for domineering women.  Was Mabel Bridge domineering? Perhaps, but in a 1934 petition for U.S. citizenship Rev. Bridge reported that he had divorced his second wife in September, 1920 "on grounds of her adultery." But his report stirs some doubt: he mis-reported his wife's name ("Barbara") and he claimed to have divorced her in the Supreme Court of New York, where he was not living in 1920.  Additional evidence indicates that he and she continued to cohabit in Grinnell through 1922, so it seems likely that he divorced Mabel sometime after his move to New York in 1923.

In any event, in the summer of 1920 the Bridge family was still together, and moved to Grinnell, Iowa. How had Rev. Bridge found Grinnell College from his location in Moscow, Idaho?  And what exactly drew him to Grinnell?

These are intriguing questions, but hard to answer.  B. J. Ricker, still a Grinnell College trustee in 1920, as well as his brother-in-law, David Morrison, somewhat later acquired some property in Lincoln County, Idaho, but this land was a long ways from Moscow.  In any event, the Bridge family came to Grinnell before Ricker and friends purchased their Idaho farms, so it seems unlikely that Ricker or Morrison was responsible for having recruited Rev. Bridge to Grinnell.

Once in Grinnell, Rev. Bridge fashioned a rather secular occupation.  Unlike his position in Idaho, where he joined a church appointment with a college position, in Grinnell Bridge had only an academic appointment, first instructor, then assistant professor in the English department of Grinnell College.  Of course, there had been an Episcopal church in Grinnell—St. Paul's, first organized in the 1870s.  Although now recovered and flourishing, in the years immediately preceding Bridge's arrival the parish, without a priest and without a church, had disintegrated, so there was no episcopal appointment to be had there. Nevertheless, in part because so many of the college's students were Episcopalian, Rev. Bridge did periodically convene services on campus, and he occasionally celebrated the liturgy in Iowa City and in other churches in the area.
However, the transition to full-time teaching indicated where Rev. Bridge's real interests lay.  The 1920 Scarlet and Black printed a welcoming biographical sketch, emphasizing Bridge's acting experience: "He has played with Lawrence Irving in Edinburgh, and has taken many parts, including the leads, in an extensive list of modern and Shakespearean plays." No doubt Bridge himself had helped the campus reporter emphasize his interest in the stage, and a survey of Bridge's time in Grinnell—which will be the subject of the next post—makes clear how important to the clergyman drama had become.