Digest>Archives> October 2010

What makes Lighthouse People so Unique?

By Ernie Corty


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Claire Burn, more than just a “Lighthouse ...

What makes “Lighthouse People” very special and unique? And what makes someone a “Lighthouse Person”? Believe it or not, I was thinking about these questions just the other day. I think I was driven to this pondering by the fact that about twenty-five people asked me if I knew about the “Legendary Lighthouses” film recently on public television (it first aired during the fall of 1998 and was recently re-aired). Knew about it? Why just the fact that I was asked the question was somewhat insulting! I was able to view the six part series even though I missed parts of some of the shows. My family even agreed to watch most of them with me!

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Barb and Randy Hemstad volunteer at lighthouses ...

No, when I think about “Lighthouse People,” I don’t think about those who watch a television special on lighthouses. Perhaps when I think of “Lighthouse People,” I’m recalling those few with special names, titles or those who own a lighthouse. You know the ones that I mean: “Mr. Lighthouse,” “The Lighthouse People,” “The Lighthouse Lady,” “Lighthouse Mom,” “Official Lighthouse Photographer,” and those who have bought or have built lighthouses. Why, some have secured Coast Guard approval to light them as an aid to navigation.

No, when I think about “Lighthouse People,” I don’t think about those who are fortunate to earn a living writing books about lighthouses or painting pictures of them. Furthermore, I don’t think about those who live in lighthouses. In fact, I’m sure I don’t think about those who built their own aid to navigation. Now don’t get me wrong, these are multi-talented people and they have enhanced the nostalgic lore of lighthouses greatly.

Perhaps, putting into words what I think, is a bit more challenging than I thought? Anyhow, I’m prepared to give it a try, so here goes. “Lighthouse People” are that special breed that tries to identify every picture of a lighthouse they see. It doesn’t matter if it is pictured on a billboard or viewed as part of a commercial on television. It doesn’t matter if it is part of an advertisement or on a placemat or in a magazine. “Lighthouse People” often stop along the roadside to take pictures of signs, billboards, or handmade decorations in someone’s backyard that feature a lighthouse. “Lighthouse People” spend hours working on scrapbooks full of postcards, pictures, articles and other items of interest pertaining to lighthouses. You can tell a “Lighthouse Person” when friends come to visit and your spouse had warned you prior to their arrival not to bore them with hours of pictures and conversation about lighthouses. You can also tell this type of person when you are finally allowed to get your scrapbooks, pictures, videos, and whatever out, and you’re the only one still listening to yourself after forty-five minutes. (Imagine someone losing interest after forty-five minutes!)

“Lighthouse People” bake cakes in the shape of a favorite lighthouse. They collect lighthouse pins. They wear t-shirts and sweatshirts with lighthouses sewn, painted, sketched, or embroidered on them. Some even force their children to wear them. “Lighthouse People” plan their vacations around lighthouses and then fit other items of importance into their plans. After all, what is more important: historical items, amusement parks, swimming, or mountain climbing? I think lighthouses! “Lighthouse People” have been known to travel incredible distances to view a single lighthouse. They plan photo contests and picnics with other “Lighthouse People.” One of their more endearing quirks is that they have vehicle license plates with a lighthouse picture on them or the name “lighthouse” on the plate, which leads to many interesting spellings of lighthouse since most plates only allow for 8 characters. “Lighthouse People” make lighthouse beans, lighthouse cookies, lighthouse stew, and a few have been known to use lighthouse toilet paper. (I haven’t stooped that low yet!)

In conclusion, you can be sure you’re one of the “Lighthouse People” if you find yourself doing any of the above mentioned things. Strange, but somehow I find myself doing almost all of them! It seems that once you light that first lamp, it’s hard to turn it out. Oh yes, I almost forgot, “Lighthouse People” talk a peculiar language. They make-up lighthouse sayings and use them frequently. You can find them in their e-mail addresses, passwords, nicknames, and they often find their way into normal everyday conversation. In fact, the more I think about it, I begin to wonder if there isn’t something wrong with people like us.

Oh well, “Keep the Light Lit” and “Burn it Bright Till We Meet Again” and “Light the Way Brother.” Really, I must glow, I mean go! See what I mean?

In His Light,


This story appeared in the October 2010 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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