Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bridgewater by the Bridge, on the Water

This week we made our first visit to Florida since 2002 or so -- not counting hectic layovers in MIA, Capital of Latin America. We had certainly not been there since starting this Bridgewaters Project blog, and on the second day of this brief visit, Pam suggested we should seek some Bridgewaters in Florida. Careful readers of this blog will know that it started as an exploration of towns that share the name of our town, of which there are quite a few in the United States and a few other English-speaking countries.

Careful readers will also know that we like blogging so much that we have extended our scope to include shopping malls, housing developments, and other geographic ephemera. Hoping to find a couple such places, I did a lazy search on Google maps, and found something like this:
Of these, the Bridgewater Inn was close to our planned travels for the day, so we started heading that way, following the low-tech map I sketched on the back of a restaurant placemat. When navigating in a rented car, I can use my phone's GPS, but I prefer to go old-school on longer stretches like this one was to be.

Following Burnt Store Road from I-75, we began to wonder if my navigational technique had failed us somehow. We passed mile after mile of low-density development being carved into the flatness to the west of Ft. Myers, block by block, until we lost track of the scale of our drive. We were both starting to think of giving up when we finally arrived at Pine Island Road. We were then surprised to find ourselves in the kind of resort-town traffic jam we associate with places like South Padre or Ocean City.

When we first found the inn, we were somewhat underwhelmed.

Usually we have nothing to do with crabs outside of the borders of Maryland. But this one was very cute.

We were confused when we first found the Inn, because it seemed very small and without an office. We abandoned our quest, and realized almost immediately that this was a small annex located just a few yards away. We learned, though, that amidst all of the sprawl and free parking in southwest Florida, we had found one spot where parking is at a premium. A nearby gift shop advertises free parking with any purchase.
We then found the main entrance and availed ourselves of the limited parking just long enough to take a few photos. 
Island time begins on this side of the bridge; no need to wait until getting across to the actual island.
Geographers love examples of "sense of place" -- the symbols by which people manifest their connections to places. This bric-a-brac collection certainly tells us where we are, and how the innkeepers see it.
Even more specific to this place is a mural in the main office that shows us both the bridge and the water. Rooms on the western side of the inn have a great view of both!
Since we started spending more time near the water over the past five years, we've become more aware of the rhythms of weather and water. Writing the daily details on a board like this might be a better way to get in tune than any digital gizmos.
The next time we go to Florida between blizzards, we might find a way to spend a couple of days right here, in the southmost Bridgewater we've visited so far.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bridgewater: The Hymn

At the beginning of today's service at First Parish Bridgewater -- the church that started the town and of which we are active members -- Pam noticed something interesting about the prelude we would soon be hearing. The title of the hymn was "Bridgewater," and its composer was born in the town.
Because of Pam's quick thinking, I was able to get ready to record our organist Duncan Vinson opening the service with the first stanza of the song. It was an appropriate way to begin what turned out to be a thought-provoking service about the competing religious ideas of two founders of the United States: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Given that Lewis Edson lived from 1748 to 1820, he must have written this hymn during the years in which the debates of these original frenemies were most active.

Those who wish to sing along have several choices, according to the Bridgewater entry on Hymnary.org (an obscure synonym for hymnal, this site is like the IMDb of church music). Edson did not write words for his tune, but three alternatives were written by others:
  • Great God, Attend While Zion Sings by Isaac Watts
  • To God the Father, God the Son also by Isaac Watts, who apparently liked this tune
  • My favorite: Assembled in our school once more by Dr. L. Mason
My first thought was that Edson might have composed the hymn with the famous Bridgewater Normal School in mind. But history happens in order, and even though that school (now our employer, BSU) is old, it was not founded until 20 years after Edson had died, far away in Woodstock, New York.

My second thought was to wonder whether this piece had been played in our church during the composer's lifetime. If so, it would not have been on the historic organ used today, which was constructed for our third (1848) sanctuary in 1852.
A drawing of the E. & G. G. Hook Opus 132 (1852) organ hangs in the Conservatory (music room) of our Bridgewater home, Cloverfield. The name of the artist "Phyllis" appears in the lower right; the artist Phyllis Packard was a long-time member of the church, in which her daughter Nancy served as music director.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Triangle House?

The teller shuddered when I handed her the check, which I was depositing to cover the cost of renovations in the kitchen our Bridgewater home. When we bought the home in 2002, we arranged for structural repairs in the kitchen before we even moved in. The collapsing ceiling had, in fact, made our purchase of the house possible: we later found out that many of our friends had been interested in the house until they saw that ceiling. Once the major work was done, we turned our attention to the rest of the house, eventually making it a "rainbow house" inside, as we steadily remodeled each room.
Our kitchen, the "before" picture
Finally, our attention returned to the kitchen and its Full House-era cabinets, and this involved some banking. Back to the teller ...
I never really watched this show, but when we did catch an episode a few years ago, Pam noticed the cabinets right away.
The reason she was startled, she said, was that she had grown up in the house. Her family had owned it for 22 years, and they had sold it to the woman from whom we bought it. I mentioned our current project with the cabinets, which she of course remembered. I was pleased to meet yet another person connected to the house -- I think it might have been her mother who had a similar reaction to a check I wrote at the local grocery a few years ago, and we have bumped into a number of former residents over the years.

And then she asked if we had noticed anything happening in the house. I am not a follower of the paranormal, but somehow I immediately knew what she meant, and said that we had not. Because that is what I thought.

The teller -- who was training a new teller at the time, a man who stood silently by as we had this discussion -- related stories of her family's experience. Most notable was her brother, who slept with a baseball bat for fear of the ghosts in his room. The family had eventually hired a medium to put him at ease.

I reported this to Pam when I got home, and she found it interesting, repeating that she does not believe in ghosts, and had not seen any. Whenever I think of ghosts, I am reminded of C.S. Lewis, who asserted that seeing and believing are not the same thing. He had seen ghosts and did not believe in them, while a good friend of his was a firm believer who had never seen one. I have never seen one and do not believe in them (I think), but I do not doubt those who see them.

When I mentioned all of this to our kid -- 20 years old and home for the holidays -- they reported having seen one when they were about age 7. If they were sleeping in our room (which was often the case), they would see the ghosts walking back and forth in the upstairs hallway. JUST WHERE THE TELLER TOLD ME HER BROTHER SAW THEM.

We have since reconfigured that space, so that no wall divides the hall from the room. And we have a light fixture there that is new and professionally installed but sometimes simply does not work. Inexplicably. I am not sure I believe in ghosts, but I do believe in pranks.

As I was wondering whether the ghosts looked like my most consistent mental image of ghosts -- from the Alfred Hitchcock book ghostwritten by Robert Arthur -- Pam reminded me of the obvious: whatever kids in the house have seen, we are deep in the Bridgewater Triangle, and only a few steps from a famously haunted dormitory.

Maps: Paranormal Encyclopedia

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Bridgewaters Project Makes the Big Time

Last week a reporter from the local newspaper (The Brockton Enterprise) visited with us in our home for an interview about The Bridgewaters Project. The article, with some fun photos was published in print yesterday, and online today. Read all about it!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Finding these Bridgewaters

Finally, I made a map of the Bridgewaters included in this blog and some Bridgewaters we hope to reach in the future.

Blue marks places we have been, red marks our #goals.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Nuevo Bridgewater

Today we were on the Cape of Cod for the first time in several months, to redeem some much-appreciated gift cards at the Trader Joe's in Hyannis. A long drive with a short walk seemed the best way to enjoy a sunny afternoon without breaking my commitment to rest the tendons that hold my left foot in place.

As we were getting ready to leave our place in Fairhaven, I thought to myself, "I wonder if there is a Bridgewater on Cape Cod." I was remembering such non-town Bridgewaters as the shopping center we visited in Ohio last year and a subdivision in Maryland where we toured a model home in 2013. As soon as the words were forming in my mind, they reminded me of the obvious: our own Bridgewater State University Cape Cod mini-campus.


We had not been to campus before, but knew that it was just a simple building, not yet open on weekends. As it finds its academic footing, I'm not sure whether I will ever have a professional gig there, but I have helped to lead a number of geography field camps on Cape Cod and once published a photo essay about this amazing slice of physical and human geography. So perhaps it will provide an excuse for some future geography gigs in one of my favorite areas.
Image may contain: sky, tree and outdoor
I set up this photo to capture most of the open space on campus.
Image may contain: sky, tree and outdoor
A retired school, but sadly it no longer has a gym, though I had
suggested keeping it for EarthView.
As she usually does when we are in the car together, Pam played DJ, and selected my very favorite CD -- Clandestino by the enigma Manu Chao. There is simply no better driving music, and it was perfect for zooming home along that Cape highway. Enjoy:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bridgewater Falls - the most generic place in America

In the late 1980s and into 1990 we lived in Oxford, Ohio, a college town (Miami University) near the Indiana border, and about 30 miles north of the Roebling Bridge, which connects Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky.

This weekend we returned to the tri-state area for the wedding of a friend from our days in the Buckeye State. We were completely disoriented by all the changes we found since our time here. Miami University, along with the town itself, had exploded in new buildings. We were excited to see that there was a brand new public library, though. There was also a Chick-fil-A, something that ordinarily would escape any interest from us, except that during our drive from Oxford to Cincinnati we spotted a billboard for said restaurant indicating two nearby locations: Oxford, and Bridgewater Falls. 

Once we checked in to our hotel room (where a gift bag from the grooms awaited us) we Googled Bridgewater Falls and discovered it was a shopping center (or, more specifically, a "lifestyles shopping centre") in the nearby town of Fairfield. It also appeared to have only national chain-type stores. It didn't look like the kind of place we would seek out, unless, as James pointed out we were looking to appoint a dorm room. In other words, it is a great place to look for stuff you already know how to find.

Nevertheless, it is called Bridgewater and we were nearby so a pilgrimage was called for. If there ever was a place with "no there there," this is it. Stores include\ Target; Staples; JCPenney; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Panera Bread, Chiles, and of course, Chick-fil-A. We walked around and took a few pictures. It did have fountains and geese at the entrance, but there were no local shops, and no place that we had any interest in going into.
 Near the main entrance. That's the Chick-fil-A on the left.
Another view from the entrance.
Could be anywhere 
Our first-ever blogspotter award (as yet unspecified, but it will be local to the real Bridgewater) will go to whomever can identify a national chain retailer that is not represented within one mile of this spot!
At least it has a rotary.
We have already experienced it ... so you don't have to.