Digest>Archives> January 1999

If We Only Had Lighthouse Hosts

By Leo Bedard


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The remote Race Point Light Station has been ...
Photo by: Leo Bedard

Spend the night at Race Point Lighthouse, Provincetown, MA. For reservations and additional information, contact the Race Point Lighthouse volunteer manager hosts, Leo and Linda Bedard at 508-888-9784.

Those were the words that I heard one morning at coffee break. As it turns out, I was sitting with a table of ex-Coasties. It took a great effort to contain my increasing excitement as Joe Lebherz explained, at my request, exactly what he meant. Joe lamented that the Cape Cod Chapter of the New England Lighthouse Foundation had a great opportunity for fund-raising. "We could use the Race Point Keepers' home in Provincetown, MA, as a guesthouse. "Since the Keepers Quarters at Race Point is now nearly restored, money raised from overnight guests there could be used to restore the nearby Wood End and Long Point Lighthouses. "If we only had lighthouse hosts," he said again.

I asked him, half expecting to be eliminated by his answer, "What qualifications would you require of these people?" I found that my wife Linda and I fit right in with the needs of NELF. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was just by accident that I chose to have a coffee break at the Canalside Restaurant that morning. And it just luck that a couple of friends were sitting with Joe whom I barely knew.

I asked Joe what responsibilities went with the job and he explained that the person(s) would drive guests from the National Seashore Parking lot over the shifting dunes in a four wheel drive vehicle, supplied by the New England Lighthouse Foundation to the lighthouse. Once there, the host(s) would start the generator, when needed, light the gas lamps, when necessary, and, in general, see to it that the guests have a pleasant experience for the duration of their stay.

We found out later that Joe was understating. There are many more responsibilities that are required of a couple who are the front line ambassadors for the group of hard working volunteers who make up the Cape Cod Chapter of the New England Lighthouse Foundation. But for all the work, the benefits are enormous. Our free time would be spent in the pristine seclusion of an historic house surrounded by sand dunes, salt marsh, and ocean!

Once we volunteered, Linda and I couldn't wait to take a ride out to see just what we had gotten ourselves into. The excitement began the moment our wheels hit the sand and heightened from that point on. The ride through the dunes and along the 1 1/2 miles of beach was awe inspiring. Dunes to our left, and to our right a beach that has seen over 100 shipwrecks. As we rode along, out of the dunes rose the white cast iron 1876 tower of the Race Point Light Station. Next to it was a restored 19th century home that looked as though it had been built yesterday. We had no key, so we must have looked like children exploring an abandoned house. We moved from window to window, our hands cupped over our eyes against the glass. With each glimpse of the interior, our smiles grew.

One week later, this time with key in hand, we returned for the weekend, Afterward, we couldn't wait to share stories of our experiences with others. Besides telling our friends, we printed a brochure on our computer. Any acquaintance we met was greeted with a handshake and a brochure. Our doctors, our dentists, their receptionists, and even our dog groomer were handed brochures. One word of advice, don't try talking lighthouses to your dentist while he's drilling a tooth. But, then again, my conversation must have been convincing, His entire office has been out there for a weekend.

We learned a lot about human nature out at Race Point. People are at their finest when they're isolated from the rest of humanity and miles from the pressures of everyday life. Hotel owners, school superintendents, CEO's, all slow down their pace and imagine themselves, at least for an overnight, living the harder, but in some ways, the simpler life of a bygone era.

This story appeared in the January 1999 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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