Clergy Clatter

I’m writing this on the evening of All Saints’ Day. We celebrated Halloween last night. It was a beautiful evening with perfect weather, and as I waited for trick-or-treaters, it brought back a humorous memory that I had long forgotten. I hope you’ll find it amusing.

Back in the early 1970s, before the interstates were in, I was driving to Sewanee, Tenn., where I went to seminary. I was on my way to attend a meeting of the Alumni Council, on which I served. I had left Chattanooga, and was crossing the Tennessee River in a horrific rain storm. Since I could barely see where I was going, I was driving very slowly, and without traffic, across the very large Tennessee River Bridge. Suddenly in the rain, fog, and mist, I spotted a guy on foot, with a back pack, leaning into the wind and rain, crossing the bridge. I could not leave him out there. I pulled over and offered him a ride, which he gladly accepted. I should point out, that in those days it was a courtesy to pick up a hitch hiker, if you had the room. Everyone didn’t have cars, and if you felt safe, you helped out a fellow traveler.

His name was Dan. He was an actor, headed to Chicago, where he was promised a part in a play. He was very engaging and quite a character. I enjoyed his company. I was very involved with Norfolk Little Theatre at the time, so I gave him my contact information, and told him that if he ever got to Norfolk, we had a lot of theatre and he could probably find a gig. After about an hour, we reached Monteagle, where our paths split. I dropped him off at a truck stop where he could easily hitch a ride to Chicago. I went in the opposite direction to Sewanee and my meeting.

I forgot about Dan, until about two years later when my door bell rang. It was Dan. Norfolk’s Generic Theatre had offered him a part in one of their plays. He had also gotten a job as bar tender of The Spirit of Norfolk. He asked if he could crash at my place until cash flow kicked in. I had a vacant room, and let him stay.

Now – for a story within a story: At that time, almost next to my house was the last wooden bridge in Norfolk, and it crossed Mosley Creek to Grandy Park, a very large public housing project. Each Halloween, throngs of kids crossed the old bridge and visited my house for trick-or-treat. There were usually several parents with them. It was a lot of fun, and I always looked forward to it. Then Dan decided to get into the act. He borrowed my black funeral cloak, painted his face green with some pretty hideous make up, and his eyes red, got my flash light, and hid in the bushes of my driveway. As the crowds of kids came down the dark driveway, Dan jumped out at them with the flash light under lighting his face, and let out a wolf howl. You could hear the crowd screaming back across the bridge, led by the parents, who would have gladly left their kids.

The bridge got torn down. Dan moved on. and I haven’t had a trick-or-treater in about 40 years. Sometimes even good things come to an end. Boo.

Richard +

November 2, 2022


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A compilation of The Rev. Richard O. Bridgford’s most memorable articles from his nearly 25 years at Church of the Epiphany. Enjoy history, humor, nature, travel, and wacky experiences with Fr. Bridgford, his two-legged and four-legged friends! Recall:

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