The Big One or "Is this how you get to the Lighthouse?"

The notes run down a page and carry over onto a second and a third.  There has not been a complete report on life here at the Scituate Light for a long while and its time.

Late in June Chronicle had a feature on Scituate and the Lighthouse segment from several years ago was reprised.   Last night we got some more air time and even a blurb on the Tale of the Lightkeeper\’s Daughter by host Anthony Everett. After they saw the show some of my Marshfield students were working overtime to get me trending on Twitter. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

May and June were about the resurrection of gardens that were mauled during the winter.  Looking out the window today I see weeding that needs to be done but overall the gardens have bounced back perfectly.  New topsoil donated by the Beautification Committee helped the cause but nothing works like getting your hand and knees dirty cleaning and cutting and splitting.

We have seen the yard bloom into awesome colors and the feedback talking along the fence has been very grateful.  There was one guy who complained about the weeds mixed in with the sea roses but I went out there and cleaned it up in front of him. I embarrassed him in fact when I told him that a group of developmentally delayed students had been prevented from doing the job by the intense heat. That those roses came back after the belting that they took from all the stone is a flat out miracle of Mother Nature.

The Scituate High School Class of 1963 stopped by for a brief visit during their 50 year reunion. Among the group was the daughter of Ray Fitzgerald who covered the Etrusco story for the Globe in the fall of 1956.  She was surprised to say the least when I knew of her dad and how much he had promoted Scituate in the follow up articles he wrote.

On June 8th The Scituate Historical Society hosted a ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the battle between the USS Chesapeake and the HMS Shannon.  The occasion sought and achieved the proper balance between the solemn and the celebrated. Wonderful music marked the event with the help of the Satuit Band. I donned the uniform of the Light keeper for the first time and was the target of some well deserved barbs. The jacket is handsome but the hat brings out the awkward.  I think I will always be a work bucket, blue collar Light keeper that  is hard to dress up.

The end of school coincided with Independence Day this year (or seemed to anyway) and that brought the spectacle of flags lining nearly every house along the Point.  That is a fantastic display that never gets old. What did get old were the fireworks at all hours and on a scale I have never known before.  In another setting I described the evening of the Third of July as the Battle of the Somme, relentless explosions, one following another, the last going off right outside this office window at ten past midnight. It was overkill to these ears and I hope that it will be seen as an aberration over time. There was a mechanical quality to the show after the first 30 minutes or so; people launching, firing, and lighting more to use them up than to celebrate or even entertain.

The weekend of July 6th saw a visit from Al Benzanson, owner of the schooner, Green Dragon, built on Lighthouse Road and launched from the beach into the Harbor in the fifties.  His son Andy and Andy\’s wife Amy were along side for a Sunday morning tour of the Light. Mr. Benzanson told me he was an avid blogger and offered a couple of links you might consider. The Green Dragon Facebook page can be found at: and  We were thrilled to have the have a chance to spend some time with this family who were here as the centerpiece of the Antique Boat Show cosponsored by the Scituate Historical Society and the Scituate Harbormaster\’s office.  Here is a shot of the Green Dragon going into the water way back when.

Early July also saw the installation of two new cameras in the top of the tower.  They pan from side to side and tilt up and down. Each requires a user name: history, and a password: scituate. They are best viewed with Google Chrome. It was one of those cameras that captured these images of the fireworks on First Cliff.

The color is not what it might be with another camera but I will disclose that the price was right.  I did have to add in a new router to be able to dial in all four cameras but the good news there was that there is room to expand to three more when we are able to add more power in the Tower.  Plugs are at a premium up top but in time that will be resolved.  Here is a daytime shot taken in late July.

Mid July brought the first open house of the year and the days leading up saw the Cottage and Tower subjected to a scrubbing.  I resurrected a sound system in the runway and Tower and by connecting up a phone, we had a rocking and rolling soundtrack to the scrubbing.  I stole a trick from the ancient mariners and used a mix of white vinegar and water to swab the Tower stairs and runway.  The never ending battle between keeper and spiders continued when I vacuumed the whole place from literally the top to bottom.  A week later I was losing again but that is the nature of this contest.  The next day Julie met someone who commented on the our rocking out.  It is going to happen again.

The Open House on July 14 was an unqualified success.  More than 210 adults and children made their way through the Cottage and out into the Tower from 12:45 until 4:30.  I have never had a day pass so fast.  Some dear friends passed through and some classmates from long ago reintroduced themselves. We had rearranged the utility room to make the story easier to tell and it worked out well.  That room remains a treasure to us. Bright, useful, comfortable, and full of books is a great way to describe it.

The next week was a blur of activity. We had a group from France visit. Pat Jacquart and Tom Hall brought a fantastic group.  They had the best questions of any group we have had and one little guy had even been on the blog and knew all about the new web cams. He promised the number of hits would be going up when he got back to France and passed the word.  It helped that they had more English than any other group and actually seemed to know why they were here.

 The introduction of the Tale of the Scituate Lightkeeper\’s Daughter by a cover story in the Scituate Mariner on the Thursday before the Open House prompted call after and call and a two night book signing at the Barker Tavern on the 17th and 18th prompted even more.  The scramble was more than worth it as around 200 people came out over the two nights to have Richard Wainwright sign their copies and hear him speak on the creation of the book and on his career generally.  Pam Martell, The entire staff of the Barker Tavern, the volunteers at the Little Red School House who took reservations, Judy Wainwright, the Cedar Point crew who took money, sold books, and handed out invitations, all of them deserve an ovation for their part in two wonderful nights.  Haley was asked to sign several books and she obliged with her usual aplomb.

There are connections being made because of this book. It was great to have my cousins Lynne and Joan come to the Light and to the event. My dear Aunt Mona put in an appearance. I heard from in laws in California, my brother in Florida, and my sister in Oregon. Aunt Barbara sent a note to Haley from her roost in Wareham. This project is going to come to mean a great deal to all of us I think.

Many copies are still available at the Little Red School House on Cudworth Road and through the Society web site at Order through the web site and I will get Haley to sign it for you before shipping it out.

The architect Mies Van Der Rohe once said \”God is in the details.\”  People watching is the sport of everyday as there is always a game here.  Our little beach has become a destination for many families with many young children. It is no longer a secret to anyone that it is safer because there isn\’t a surf and it never gets all that deep as the tide goes out.  There have been more examples of children at play out there than I can describe here.  It is fantastic to listen to and to watch.

One of the plus 90 degree days, when I took myself over the stones for a dip, I watched as three under the age of 7 made up a game.  You could be in \”sanctuary,\” \”adventure,\” or \”escape.\”  Back and forth they went on their boogie boards; one was especially aware that they were on the edge of being over their heads.  It took me back to forty five years ago on Sand Hills when we were doing very much the same thing.

I saw a terrific family out there on several days, on an inner tube, throwing a football, three generations at play.  Everyone was feeling great to be out of the heat, up to their necks in the water, and doing something together.  It can be a good thing when a secret gets out.

The heat broke several days ago and we were treated to the extravaganza of a bride having her wedding party photographed as the thunder boomed and the lightning struck. Back and forth to the tour bus they went. The shot they wanted was a lightning strike flashing into the ocean serving as the backdrop of the couple kissing.  I can\’t say for sure but it was close a couple of times.

There are some guests however who are not as welcome and who make you question your judgement. While working at this desk on a steamy Friday night, bathing suit still a little wet from an after dinner swim, watching visitors stroll up the walkway, aching for any breeze that might be hiding up by the Tower, I noted a well dressed woman in her late twenties, early thirties. She had a smile on her face, seemed to notice me at the desk with a nod; she looked normal, content, sensible right down to her shoes.

Minutes later I heard someone enter the house. At 7:00 or 7:30 this can only mean Haley has come back from a friends.  \”Hey, \” I shouted out. No answer. As I got up to look I found that my normal, content, sensible right down to her shoes woman was in the house. She had managed to walk by four signs that indicated the property was private.  She managed to ignore the nod she had given to the shirtless, swimsuit wearing light keeper working at this desk. \”Is this how you get to the Lighthouse?\” she asked. I turned her around politely by pointing out that we lived here and that the Cottage and the Light is a private place but for a very few days of the year. Away she went, not so much as a half-hearted \”Sorry\” for my trouble. It gives you pause when your read of someone turns out to be so wrong.  I have taken to throwing the bolt on that door since.

Fog greeted us the last few mornings – complete with fog horn from the spindle light.  It is a long, drawn out, note. Think of a deep beep of a horn in a tunnel. It lasts five to eight seconds and it means you can not see much.  Driving off the Point yesterday morning I stopped at the Yacht Club parking lot and got these shots.

Make sure you clip on each to see a bigger version. This was unusual and very, very, cool to see.
A project is about to begin here that will incovenience some but that has to happen.  The seawall is being rebuilt of much larger stone as a revetment wall.  It will be slightly higher than the wall in place now and the difference in material is expected to secure the Lighthouse for some time to come.  It is going to be a loud and messy process.  The contractors have asked for permission to start some mornings as early as 4:30 and to work on Saturdays as well.  Half of the Lighthouse parking lot will be used for staging the project.  The fire lane nearest to the cottage will be blocked and a new one has already been painted. That happened at 2:00 in the morning two nights ago.  
My biggest concern is that we will get a storm while the current wall is being disassembled.  My second concern is that there will be a hangup with materials when rebuilding.  My third concern is that disassembling the wall will displace some wildlife who will try to move in with me. My fourth concern is that brides will take a page from my normal, content, sensible to her shoes, nitwit and try to use the yard for their photographs. Those of you who took a low number in the pool on how many I would throw out of the yard this summer might want to reconsider.
We have had two gentlemen on the job here this week. Ken Litchfield has been working here and has replaced three doors that had shown signs of rot. The door that once took a keeper from the kitchen wing to the oil storage vault has been replaced beautifully, the door to the runway that was the equivalent of a piece of swiss cheese in the winter is now as tight as Ebenezer Scrooge, and the bulkhead door to the cellar  is on its way to once again being a barrier to wind and rain instead of a gate. Ken will be devising some protection for the runway before he finishes here.
Nate Baker won the contract to paint the Cottage and runway. He has been scraping this week and hopes to have this building set before moving on to the Cudworth House and the Mann House.  I am grateful to both for their effort and attention to detail.
On August 19th Arcadia Publishing will release a new volume in the Legendary Locals series, Legendary Locals of Scituate.  This project has been a tremendous education for the light keeper and the Scituate Historical Society will receive any royalties generated by the sale of the book.  Every effort was made to create an entertaining, educational, representative, and respectful telling of more than 120 life stories.  Many will be well known, many more not known at all by a wide audience.  Look for it on line at the Society web site and at the Little Red Schoolhouse in late August.
This is the longest blog to date in the five years of posting.  The idea for this blog emerged from some corner of this elastic brain of mine as I drove along Summer Street in Marshfield heading over to pick up Haley from camp. She had just finished fourth grade, didn\’t have a cell phone, traveled in a different circle of friends, all closer to our neighborhood. I was wondering how we could differentiate ourselves from the posse that had collected seeking to find their way into Ruth Downton\’s shoes and this Cottage. I was wondering that because I wanted so much to find a way to be appointed as I knew the difference it would make for that girl. Like Mary Poppins reaching into that carpet bag, I pulled out the idea for a blog. I thought that Julie could provide the pictures and I would find the words.  At the interview I leaned over to her and said, \”You don\’t know about this, but if we are appointed, we are going to have a blog.\”  The idea was well received. More than 70,000 have viewed it, all around the world, including my young friend from France noted above. 
Some of the postings stand the test of time better than the others. I am very fond of one that recounts what we hear. Another on the Knights of Columbus carnival holds up. The day of the three brides has resonated with a lot of people. All the photographs, by Julie, by Haley, and my own, take me to the first photograph when Ruth handed me the key and kicked off real life here. When you get right to it, seeing the kid grow as I thought she might is the crown jewel.  The Word from Old Scituate Light is the real Tale of the Scituate Lightkeeper\’s Daughter.
\”Is this how you get to the Lighthouse?\” Yes it is. Stay out of the yard and come visit this way.

5 responses to “The Big One or "Is this how you get to the Lighthouse?"”

  1. The Big One or \”Is this how you get to the Lighthouse?\” …..Awesome title and an awesome blog. Scituate is very fortunate to have you and your family as keepers.D. Ball


  2. well said as always Bob! Love the lighthouse, always have.Mum instilled the wonder and beauty of the lighthouse to all of us. Love that you get to live there and Haley can grow up there [and her parents can too! Any time I hear an accent in the store I ask are you from MA?? Do you know Scituate? and with pride I tell them My brother and his family live in the lighthouse. some have been and many plan to visit. i hope they do as it is really a magical place. Hope to be home sooner than later! Love christine


  3. Thanks Bob! A true teacher's \”recap\”.


  4. Thanks Chris – we are happy to keep on plugging here.


  5. Have been wondering what happened to your cams up inside the Lighthouse ??


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