Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2020

Keeper's Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comment from the Tower

By Timothy Harrison


In Memory of Edla Duncan

We would like to thank the many people who recently donated to the Lighthouse History Research Institute in memory of Edla Isabelle Kendall Duncan (1/10/1935-12/23/2019). Edla Duncan was a long-time subscriber to Lighthouse Digest who had a lifelong endearment for lighthouses. She and her husband Edward Canton Duncan had visited many of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes, in New England, in the Pacific Northwest, and Florida, as well as many in Canada, Ireland and Scotland. Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends. 

Movie Uniforms

Variety Magazine recently published a number of photographs of lighthouse keepers in uniform that they said were used for the research to make the replica uniforms for the keepers in the movie The Lighthouse. Interestingly, some of those photos were exclusive to Lighthouse Digest.

45th Parallel Lighthouse Turns 150

The old Mission Point Lighthouse on Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City Michigan turns 150 years old this year. The lighthouse is located on the 45th Parallel halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.

The “Sea Lord of Mobile” is Lost

We are saddened to report on the passing this past January of Captain Hal Pierce (USN Ret.) of the Alabama Lighthouse Association. Born on September 6, 1932, he was a 31-year Cold-War era veteran of the U S. Navy, who was profoundly involved with many patriotic endeavors. He was a Commissioner of the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and a member of the American Legion, VFW, South Alabama Veterans Council, and of course the Alabama Lighthouse Association. He was known locally as the “Sea Lord of Mobile Alabama,” an honorary title given to him by the Mayor and City Council of Mobile.

He was passionate about saving Alabama’s 1905 Mobile Middle Bay Lighthouse and a proponent for moving the lighthouse from the Mobile Harbor to land. He was a long-time subscriber to Lighthouse Digest and a supporter of the Lighthouse History Research Institute. We will miss hearing from him. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends. He left the world a better place and we need more people like him.

West Quoddy Gets Keepers Uniform

Dennis Day (l), and Timothy Harrison (r), of the Exhibits Committee of the West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association (WQHLKA), and Kimberly Ashby, the Executive Director of WQHLKA, are shown here with a United States Lighthouse Service light keeper’s uniform jacket and hat that will go on display this spring in the museum at the Visitors Center at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine.

The uniform was purchased from Kenrick A. Claflin & Son Nautical Antiques through a grant received from the New England Lighthouse Lovers, a nonprofit lighthouse preservation group.

This type of uniform was officially adopted in 1883 by the United States Light-House Board and was in use, with some minor changes over the years, until 1939 when our nation’s lighthouses were taken over by the United States Coast Guard.

Storm Rips Sheathing at Smeaton’s Tower

A wind storm this past February ripped away a large portion of the protective sheathing covering the scaffolding at the former 1759 Eddystone Lighthouse. It is currently undergoing restoration at its land-based location in Plymouth Hoe England. The lighthouse, now affectionately called Smeaton’s Tower, has been getting a makeover in preparation for next year’s Mayflower 400 commemoration.

“The Lighthouse” Nominated for Oscar

The horror flick The Lighthouse starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson was nominated for an Academy Award’s coveted Oscar for Best Cinematography. The filmmaker used authentic vintage lenses and 35mm film to achieve the look of antique film images of the maritime nightmare. You can learn more about the making of the movie by referring back to the May/June 2018 edition of Lighthouse Digest)

Famous Keeper’s Granddaughter Dies

Anne W. Brume, the paternal granddaughter of the last official U.S. Lighthouse Service keeper of Maine’s Portland Head Lighthouse, died this past January 20, 2020. She was born October 25, 1941 to the late Robert T. Sterling Jr. and his wife Jane. Anne Brume had fond memories of staying in the keeper’s house at Portland Head Light where her grandfather Robert Thayer Sterling Sr. served from 1928 to 1944 as the 1st assistant keeper and from 1944 to 1946 as the head keeper. It was stated that she inherited her meticulous cleaning and cooking skills from her grandmother Sterling. Our condolences go out to her family and friends.

Clarification for New Point Comfort

In the January/February 2020 edition on page 68 in the story, “Doomsday List Restoration Planned” we stated that Virginia’s New Point Comfort Lighthouse was abandoned since the 1930s. This should be corrected to read that when the lighthouse was converted to acetylene gas in 1919, the keepers were removed and the keeper position was assigned to a lamplighter who made occasional visits. Exactly when the keeper’s house and other out-buildings came down is unclear, but a 1928 photograph shows that they were no longer standing. In 1950, the lighthouse was converted to electricity. Lighthouse Digest subscriber Peter Brunk, who was in the Coast Guard, recalled that he helped paint the lighthouse in the early 1960s before it was decommissioned in 1963 and replaced by a lighted buoy. In 1976 the lighthouse was deeded to Mathews County.

Name Change for Squaw Island Lighthouse

The owners of Squaw Island and its lighthouse recently petitioned Michigan’s St. James Township for permission to change its name to Eagle Island, which would also, presumably, change the name of the name of the lighthouse. The township approved their request, but the final approval must come from the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

Shame on Hallmark

Shame on Hallmark Channel for using the Fisgard Lighthouse in British Columbia, Canada to promote its Martha’s Vineyard Mystery Movie, from books written by the late novelist, Philip R. Craig. Although the movie was filmed in Canada, they did use a few views of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, however they could have used any one of the five lighthouses on the island. But they did not. And, for that reason, we say shame on them.

Love On Iceland

Although we admonished the Hallmark Channel for not using a lighthouse on Martha Vineyard for their Martha’s Vineyard Mystery Movie they did use and film at the real 1897 Grotta Lighthouse in Iceland for the movie “Love On Iceland” which starred Kaitlin Doubleday and Colin Donnell.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2020 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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