Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2006

Interview with Old Wickie

By Richard Clayton


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"Good evening sir, I’m Roger Rector,

I write for the Herald Tribune Gazette."

"Hello. What? You say you’re a director?"

Asked the old man, "Umm, have we met?"

"No sir, I write stories for a newspaper,"

Said Roger, "And I came here to see you.

You’re the best by far lighthouse keeper,

And my editor wants to know what you do."

"Well, every morning I go to the lantern room,

Wind up and fasten the motor-weight of the clock,

Lower the lamp table and get out the broom,

Extinguish the lamp and clean out the flintlock.

"Wipe the chimney with tender loving care,

Then wrap it in a dry cloth to keep it dust free,

Remove the lamp and see to its repair,

And clean the lantern glass of the salt of the sea."

"What about the shipwreck?" asked the writer,

"Didn’t you row out in a storm and save a life?"

"I was supposed to do that," said the lamplighter,

"It was my duty. I rescued the ship Captain’s wife.

"The station’s life-saving crew was in a larger boat,

And those brave lads saved the rest of the crew,

The waves were so high; it was hard to stay afloat,

And that cold northern wind chilled me clear through.

"But, I’m not in their crew, I was just helping out,

Those life-saving men man a surf boat, that’s tricky,

They are professionals and know what it’s about,

And if they need a little help, they call the old wickie.

"Late in the afternoon, just before the sun sets,

The fishing boats try to make port before night,

They’re swabbing the decks and storing the nets,

And as the red sun is sinking, I light the light.

"You can tell your editor that this is the job I do,

I tend the light and stand watch until eight,

Then the assistants take over and I’m through,

I’m on duty before dawn, so I don’t stay up late.

“How should we remember you?” asked the writer,

“When we look at the lighthouse on a dark night?”

The keeper smiled and his old eyes shone brighter,

After a pause, he slowly said, “He kept a good light.”

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2006 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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