As with most marriages, the story of Orlo and Estella Hayward did not end with the wedding. Over the course of the next twelve years, three children were born to the happy couple as the family moved around the lighthouse world of the Pacific Northwest.
Orlo brought Estella back to Cape Flattery Lighthouse in Washington to live with him after their marriage in 1924, but she didn’t like being off-shore, so in 1926 they went to Coquille River Lighthouse in Oregon for a year. This was followed by two years at Slip Point Light back in Washington where their first child Joseph was born in 1927. They next moved to New Dungeness Lighthouse in 1929 where their daughter Phyllis was born. 1931 took them to Patos Island Light, followed by a return to Oregon two years later to Cape Blanco Lighthouse.
By then, Orlo and Estella felt it was time to stay on shore so their children could go to a proper school, so the next 10 years were spent at Cape Blanco. Their third child Jean was born there in 1939. In 1943, Orlo went for less than a year to Point No Point Lighthouse and then finished his service at Lime Kiln Lighthouse in 1944.
The Hayward children, being “lighthouse kids,” had many fun experiences growing up at all these lights as the family travelled about. Following are some favorite memories that they still enjoy telling today:
A Real Sea Cow
“We needed to have a cow at Patos Island for milk for us growing kids. So, one day all of us set out by boat pulling a raft to go get a cow. It was a beautiful morning with no wind and the sea was like a sheet of glass. Dad purchased the cow and brought her down to the boat and tied her on the raft. We set off to come back but the wind became more intense and the water was choppy with high waves and getting stormy. We looked around to see how the cow was doing and saw the water was splashing up around her neck. She looked very frightened and was mooing continuously. Mom said that she never saw such huge brown eyes in all her life staring back at us. The cow would go clear down out of sight between the waves and then she’d come up over the top and we’d go down. It was a terrible ride. About halfway there, Dad decided we couldn’t make it safely, so we pulled into a nearby island that had a summer place on it of some people he knew.
“Dad was afraid to take the cow off the raft because he knew he’d never catch her on this island if she got loose but he had to get her off the raft. The cow was so happy when she had her four feet on solid ground. Dad found a good place to tie her under a tree and then he broke into the cabin where we found some canned food and crackers. We spent the night there and the next morning the ocean was once again a sea of glass so we could make it back to the lighthouse. Dad thought that cow was never going to have its calf after a ride like that and we’d have to do the whole thing all over again, but the cow did have its calf and we finally got some milk.”
“At Cape Blanco, Mom wanted huckleberries for making pies and jam so she and Joe went out picking one day. When they got there, Mom was on one side of a huge huckleberry bush and she knew Joe was on the other side because she could see the bush moving. They picked for a while and several times Mom spoke to Joe but there was no answer. Finally Mom hollered, “Joe, why don’t you answer me?” There was still silence, so Mom walked around the bush and there was a bear picking and eating huckleberries on that side with no Joe in sight. Mom got the heck out of there and went back to the lighthouse only to find Joe playing there.”
A Fowl Affair
“Grandpa Eugene Hayward brought turkeys to the Cape Blanco Station to raise, but the winds came up so strong that they blew all the turkeys out into the ocean to their demise. At Cape Blanco, the winds were so high that they forced birds down from the sky. One time there were a lot of Canadian honkers that Dad saw land inside the fence in front of the house. The winds were so strong that they did not want or were unable to take off in flight again. Dad looked out the window and saw all those fat geese and thought wouldn’t one of those make a nice dinner? So, he grabbed some gloves and went outside and grabbed up one huge goose and planned to ring its neck but the goose had other ideas. It attacked Dad and scratched him to pieces. He ran to the house, all scarred, beat up and bloody to get first aid from Mom. He said “Well, we ain’t going to get any dinner from one of those things.” He never tried that one again.”
“At the end of a season at Cape Blanco Lighthouse when they got the new supplies, they had to destroy anything old - even things they hadn’t used. The government sent them a new van to drive so they were told to dispose of the old Model A pickup. Dad said we shouldn’t get rid of that pickup because the van is never going to work in that wind. But finally he had to do it. It was a big thing for all the neighborhood. The farmers showed up the day everything was going to be thrown over the bluff. The last thing they put over the fence was this truck that every farmer would have loved to own. It went crashing down into the ocean and that was the end of that. There were new unused tires for it too that were thrown off. Nobody could save them. Some of those farmers would have loved to have gotten them because money was very, very scarce. Just a terrible waste.”
“At Patos Island Lighthouse, when Phyllis was four-years old and Joe was six-years old, Joe showed her a rock he liked and Phyllis threw it out into the ocean. Joe told her she had better go get the rock and give it back to him, so off she went into the ocean to do it. Joe, seeing she was in danger, had the sense to run to get Mom and Dad who were on the beach sunbathing but had taken their eyes off them at the wrong time. They ran and got Phyllis out of the ocean. Phyllis remembers to this day what an awful feeling it was with water coming out of her lungs when they revived her.
Right after that event, Mom got or made harnesses and when she needed to do work and make sure the kids were safe, she tied them on lines from the shade trees to keep them out of the ocean. She said some folks ridiculed her and called her a mean old lady for doing that because what Mom would tie her kids to a tree? But the kids were so rambunctious and required constant vigilance to keep them safe so at least she knew they would not get drowned.”
There are many more great stories the Hayward children can tell of their lighthouse memories. While the specifics are their own, most keeper families dealt with similar circumstances to those shared here. Cows were transported, wild berries picked, wild fowl caught, surplus dumped in the ocean, and children tied to harness lines to keep them safe from harm. But Orlo and Estella’s story, given in detail through their personal letters and by their children who are still alive to share it, is very rare. It is a cherished first-hand account of what it meant to live the “lighthouse life” and is now preserved in the annals of Lighthouse Digest for future generations to enjoy.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2018 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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