Digest>Archives> Nov/Dec 2021

Keeper Memories of Burnt Island Lighthouse - Corlais Adams

Corlais Adams (former wife of keeper Jerry Marlowe 1973 – 1974)


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Corlais Adams, former wife of Coast Guard keeper ...
Photo by: Debra Baldwin

Corlais Adams was married to Jerry Marlowe when he was stationed at Burnt Island Lighthouse in the early 1970s. While standing in the living room of the keeper’s house at the anniversary celebration this year, Corlais reminisced about their time there together.

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Lighthouse keeper Jerry Marlowe served at Burnt ...

Christmas 1973 was her first time away from her family and she was feeling homesick, so Jerry went out on island and cut the biggest tree he could find. It took up the whole corner of the living room. They decorated it and enjoyed it for as long as they could, but when it was time to get rid of it over a month later, the snow was too deep to haul it out, so they had to cut the branches off one by one and burn them in the fireplace. It took a while to dispose of the big tree, but they had some nice fires to look at on wintery evenings in the meantime.

Corlais used to walk around the island every day at lunch while their daughter Tamara, 18 months-old at the time, was taking a nap with Jerry, sandwiched between his legs on the couch so she couldn’t roll off. This was Corlais’ time to take a break and relax every day. She did it all winter in the snow, except when it rained.

Once, Jerry got a call in the middle of night while they were sleeping. He left the phone on his pillow and went into the office to take the call, but Corlais could hear the conversation clearly through the phone. It was a woman on a boat who said her husband and the Captain had both been drinking, got drunk, passed out and had run her aground. Jerry said he’d call someone to find her and get her some help. She said, “You’ve got a sexy voice. Are you coming to rescue me?” He told her no because he was on Burnt Island at the lighthouse, but he would call the base for someone to come get her. She had been drinking, too, and was scared, but not scared enough to fail to appreciate his sexy voice. When Jerry got back to bed, Corlais teased him by saying, “Well you DO have that sexy voice….”

She, too, mentioned that the overflowing cistern in the basement during the rain meant washday so they could use up the extra water. She also remembered every other day having to clean barnacles out from the toilet tank that had built up due to the use of ocean water for that part of the plumbing. No ocean-scented air freshener could ever come close. “No one smells ocean in the bathroom like I do,” she joked.

Corlais also remembered opening the drapes one morning in January to see the snow flying. When she closed the drapes at night, it was still snowing. She marked it on her calendar. Every day for the next 21 days, she did the same thing with the same result as it hadn’t stopped snowing during that whole time. She still has that calendar.

Paul Kelley was the Coast Guard keeper at Burnt Island Light right before Jerry. Corlais noted that his wife, Sharon, had a loom set up in the house to weave bags and pocketbooks that she sold in town.

This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 2021 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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