It didn’t look like much that first day. Paint falling off the walls, plaster crumbling, floor boards warped, windows broken. A few months after we got started in the restoration, it was beginning to take shape. The house was beginning to look once again, like a home.
We headed back to the harbor village and were greeted by an older man. He told us he grew up at that old place; that was his dad’s job. The place was cold and drafty back then. And well even back then, the place was old. There isn’t anyone around now, that would know what it was like when it was new. But this nice man sure remembered what it was like back when he was a boy. He grew up along with his brothers and sisters on this tiny island, the son of a lighthouse keeper.
He hadn’t been on the island for over 50 years. He hadn’t wanted to. He fished in the waters near the island for most of those 50 years and went past the lighthouse every time he left the harbor and again when he returned home. The lighthouse had been abandoned by the Coast Guard and left to decay. With each passing year, a little more was wrong with the old light station.
He finally felt the need to go back. See his “roots” so to speak. So he took us on a tour one day. We walked into each room now lovingly restored. He told us who slept in each room. He showed us where they played. He even showed us where that poor old cow fell off the cliff…. “Best darned steaks we’d had in a long time!” And then he walked into the kitchen. The floor! It was spectacular, he thought. “It looks exactly like when we lived here,” he told us.
Over the years we became great friends. And we learned of the rich life he had. He taught me a bit more of the real history of the beautiful lighthouse. It is so much more that just a light station or a place to raise a family. It had known many families. All kinds of people from all walks of life called this place home; families of the US Lighthouse Service days and the men of the US Coast Guard.
Knowing a little more about its rich history and all the heart that had gone
into making individual lives and careers here, makes me care all the more for it in the present.
We are called to live in the “Now,” but certainly, the present is so much richer when we understand and honor the past.
This story appeared in the
November 2008 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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