Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2012

Learning From A Post Card


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We published this vintage post card image on page 71 of the January/February issue of Lighthouse Digest, asking people to do a little research to see what they could learn about the post card and then let us know what they learned.

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Lighthouse keepers Lewis Sawyer, Adelbert ...

The idea behind this was hopefully to get people to follow the many tips we have provided in past issues to learn about an individual lighthouse from an old post card and about the area the lighthouse was in and other pertinent things that could enhance their knowledge of history and geography.

We thought we would be inundated with e-mail responses, but surprisingly we were not.

Perhaps this tells us that people are not interested in doing their own research or they just don’t have the time. If this is the case, we find it to be a real shame, because researching old lighthouse post cards can be a fun and rewarding experience for the entire family.

However, the few people who did respond learned a lot from this one image and some even sent us photographs to show the depth of their research. This is a synopsis of the correct information that folks found and sent to us.

The post card was made by Bernice “Bunny” Richman and her husband Reginald Robinson, who owned the Winter Harbor Lighthouse from the mid 1930s and lived there through the 1940s.

Bernice Richman wrote at least three books, two of which extensively detailed her life and the obstacles faced while owning and living in an island lighthouse. Those books are, Winter Harbor, published in 1943; Our Island Lighthouse, published in 1947; and Right as Rain, The Story of My Maine Grandmother, published in 1946. Copies of these long out of print books can be found for sale at places like Abe Books and sometimes on Amazon and Ebay, and make for wonderful reading.

At some point Bernice Richmond and Reginald Robinson were divorced, and in 1960 Bernice married John Riddle Burleigh. After that, the lighthouse had a series of owners, including Pat and Rene Prud’hommeaux who wrote a number of children’s books under the pen name of Joan Howard. One of those books, The Light in the Tower, a fictional children’s book, is based on the lighthouse. After Pat passed away on the island, his wife moved to the mainland but continued to own the lighthouse, but without proper care it fell into disrepair and was vandalized.

In 1974 the lighthouse was purchased by Gerald Kean, who sold it in 1994 to William Holden III, who spent a small fortune restoring the historic structure. Holden has created a web site that is literally loaded with photographs of his time at the lighthouse, with many paintings done by him at www.ieyetouch.com. Holden has since sold the lighthouse and it remains privately owned to this day.

Winter Harbor Lighthouse, in Winter Harbor, Maine, is also known as Mark Island Lighthouse because it is located on Mark Island. But it is not to be confused with the Deer Island Thorofare Lighthouse near Stonington, Maine, which is also referred to as Mark Island Lighthouse.

Built in 1856 the Winter Harbor Lighthouse was discontinued in 1934. During its existence it was a single family station and nine different people served as the lighthouse keeper.

So, all in all, I would say that our readers did a pretty good job of researching this vintage post card.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2012 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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