Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2005

Vintage ad is vital to lighthouse history

By Timothy Harrison


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The regular readers of Lighthouse Digest know that I keep harping away to look for old advertisements with lighthouses in them or vintage post cards that may have a real story to tell. Over the years we’ve stumbled across lighthouse post cards addressed to a lighthouse keeper or from a lighthouse keeper and they all have a story to tell.

Recently while in a used bookstore, I was flipping through an issue of Time Magazine from April 20, 1957 when I spotted this advertisement using a lighthouse. At the first quick glance I thought it was another of the many old magazine ads where a manufacturer used a lighthouse to help sell a product or service. But, when I flipped back to it, I knew I really stumbled onto a neat story. And the story within the advertisement actually had a photograph of a real lighthouse keeper in it, one that we did not have in our files. It was like finding gold.

Since we have reduced the size of the advertisement to fit on this page, here’s what the basic text of the advertisement says.

“Many folks think a lighthouse keeper is not interested in people on shore... let alone automobiles, traffic jams and accidents.

“I hate to shatter popular beliefs, but... most lighthouse keepers do keep cars to get around in off-hours. Like any driver, they need sound auto insurance.

"Ask my family. We were out driving recently when a pedestrian stepped in our path. I spotted him and swerved . . . right into a tree. Mrs. Pittsley, our daughter and I all received injuries. I certainly was glad we had Hardware Mutuals medical payments protection. We especially appreciated the personal interest the Hardware Mutuals claims man took in the case. He made sure we had a prompt settlement.

“I know now why my Hardware Mutuals representative took the time to plan complete auto insurance for us. We’ve got exactly the protection we need... and that suits us fine.”

The advertisement featured a photograph of the lighthouse keeper with the following written underneath it, “Claim paid to Roy S. Pittsley, E.N.C., Annisquam Harbor Light Station, Gloucester, Mass., Hardware Mutuals File No. 1-5A13872.”

Now, if we could only find family members of lighthouse keeper Roy S. Pittsley they might have a better quality photograph of him that could be displayed in the museum and other photos or documents detailing life at Annisquam Lighthouse.

This vintage advertisement will now become part of the archives of the American Lighthouse Foundation’s Museum of Lighthouse History where another slice of unique lighthouse history has been saved for future generations. We would encourage our readers to keep looking for old items like this and send them on to us. Who knows where the next story will be found.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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