The Gadfly and 281 4th Ave., NYC

Bill Jr.:

Before there was an National Episcopal Church Center at 815 Second Avenue, there was a crowded, ornate and friendly building on 4th Avenue. It was the place where the national and international mission and ministry, plus the budgetary back-ups, were implemented or forestalled. Someone else should write its history and ambiance. On occasion, Dad would send me up there to pick up a bulletin or to deliver the latest week’s copy of the W.G.W.  1  Or, if possible, to listen to see if anything was ‘popping’ that might make a story.

Of course, through the years, he had his resources there. Among them, naturally, were the guards at the door and the elevator men. They were glad to see him come, since, in those days, he would discuss the fate of the Yankees and the Giants up at the Polo Grounds and the Dodgers across the river. Or, if they wished, the latest troubles in the South or up in Harlem. Then, on to the Dept. of Christian Social Relations, headed by Almon Pepper and Muriel Webb (both C.L.I.D.). Over to the Rural Work Department, which the young Cliff Samuelson from Seattle was transforming into the Town-Country Division, 2 to find out what was up. Then, on to the Dept. of Promotion (Warfield Hobbs and, then, Joe Boyle) to swap newspaper stories; to Finance in order to question the budgetary expenditures of the Church; to Christian Education, headed in order by Daniel McGregor, John Huess and David Hunter and, finally, to the Presiding Bishop’s office for a quick ‘howdy and what’s new?’ If the guards were glad to see him, I am sure that the others groaned when it was known that he was prowling his ‘beat’. He relished digging up stories and, very seldom was proved in error. 3

After 1949, with the move to Tunkhannock and away from N.Y.C., this aspect of his career slowed down. In the isolation of Pennsylvania, he was dependent on the Religious News Service, letters and phone calls and perusing the New York Times, The Christian Century and the other Episcopal magazines and following-up as best he could. He also became more dependent on the work of his editorial board in N.Y.C. and a network of ‘feeding’ and non-paid reporters around the nation.