Digest>Archives> June 2007

Women of the Lights: In Their Own Words

By Jeremy D'Entremont


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Celia Laighton Thaxter

“High above, the lighthouse rays streamed out into the humid dark, and the cottage windows were ruddy from the glow within. I felt so much a part of the Lord's universe, I was no more afraid of the dark than the wave or the winds.” – Celia Thaxter, daughter of Keeper Thomas Laighton of White Island Light, New Hampshire, describing an evening walk on the island. Celia Laighton Thaxter, photo courtesy of Judi Kearney.

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Connie and Elson Small

“When we were on the light, we didn't think of it as a job. We thought of it as a calling.” – Connie Small, author of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife. Photo of Connie and her loving husband Elson on the occasion of their wedding in 1921, Lighthouse Digest Archives photo.

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Jenny Cirone

“Didn't I hate that! You had to do it every other day!” – Jenny Cirone, daughter of Keeper John Purington of Maine's Nash Island Light, referring to cleaning the brasswork in the lighthouse. Photo courtesy of the Friends of Nash Island Light.

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Kate Moore

“The sea is a treacherous friend.” – Kate Moore, keeper of Fayerweather Island Light, Connecticut. Photo courtesy of Historical Collections, Bridgeport Public Library.

"The light is my child and I know when it needs me, even if I sleep." – Ida Lewis, keeper of Lime Rock Light, Rhode Island.

“We were lucky to have a job and be able to take care of our family. You've got to sacrifice something when you have a family to keep together. It was worth it to us. We liked that life. It was all right for me.” – Josephine Norwood, wife of Ralph Norwood, keeper of Boston Light.

“Please don't speak of it. Indeed, I did nothing worth describing.” – Roberta Boyd, daughter of Keeper John Boyd of Spruce Point Light, New Brunswick, after performing a daring rescue of two men from an overturned sailboat.

“Why, I couldn't stand by and see those two poor fellows drown, could I? I just jumped in and helped them – same as anyone would have done who knows how to swim.” – Agnes Judson, daughter of Keeper Theodore Judson of Stratford Point Light, Connecticut, after rescuing two drowning fishermen in rough seas.

“One year is exactly like another, and except for the weather, nothing changes.” – Nancy Rose, keeper of Stony Point Light on the Hudson River, New York.

“It has almost seemed to me that the light was part of myself... I wonder if the care of the lighthouse will follow my soul after it has left this worn out body!” - Abbie Burgess Grant, assistant keeper of Whitehead Lighthouse in Maine.

“Living as I have has influenced my belief. We have never had a chance to attend church regularly but when I look at all the beautiful things of nature I feel my religion lies there. . . . When I light the light (which I do sometimes) I feel as if I am believing and helping God.” – Jeanette Haskins Killen, daughter of Keeper Archford Haskins of Great Point Light, Nantucket, Massachusetts.

This story appeared in the June 2007 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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