Each website you might visit has the FAQ section and after consideration I decided to join the crowd. A common set of questions has emerged after six months and today's blog holds my answers to those regular queries.
Question 1: How did you get this position?
In the summer of 2008 Ruth Downton decided that she would step down as Lighthouse Keeper. The Scituate Historical Society created an application describing the duties and obligations of the Keeper. Those who were not scared off by the list of 39 dos and don'ts were asked to write a cover letter explaining what they could bring to the table. 26 couples or individuals were then interviewed. I would like to think it was a combination of my having helped the Society with a number of projects in the past, having a track record as a reliable tenant at the Maritime and Mossing Museum, and having been trained as a history teacher, that vaulted my wife and I toward the job. We were not spooked by what would be asked of us; we looked forward to it.
Question 2: How long do you get to stay?
The Lighthouse Keeper is a tenant at will. Simeon Bates served from 1811 to 1834. George and Ruth Downton from 1986 to 2009. We are hoping we can beat the record.
Question 3: Have there been any big storms yet?
There have been several nights when stones from the ocean side have been thrown into the road, but even with the rainiest June in memory there hasn't been one storm in which the grounds or the cars were buffeted. The house whistles a great deal - it is one big tea kettle when the wind is up - but so far it there has not been a "Get your attention yet" kind of storm.
Question 4: Do you mind living here with all the people around at all hours?
The traffic here is considerable. Yesterday afternoon at 1:00 there were nearly 200 people either on the beach or on the jetty or just walking around the building. That said we have found ourselves in dozens of very pleasant conversations and in only a few instances that could be described as clumsy. People just don't know what is public and what is private here. We educate those that don't with a simple question, "How can I help you?" As soon as we ask, people start to recognize that they could potentially overstep from the public to the private.
Question 5: How does Haley like being the LightKeeper's Daughter?
Haley is a natural born story teller and shares what she knows with our guests and the travellers milling around the site. There is a long roll of names in the kitchen of all the visitors she has had since we moved in and there was a stretch when it seemed the Keeper's Cottage had turned into her own private inn. We have had a number of Stay Awakes here. (I never have called them sleepovers.) She is eager to pick up the history, asks terrific questions when she meets someone who has traveled a distance to get here, takes some keen eyed photos for us. I would say it is working out for her just fine.
Question 6: What has been the most surprising thing?
The most surprising thing has been the enthusiasm I have been met with by people parked in cars or passing by on foot. Their affection for the Light is even greater than I guessed and I felt it was quite high at the start. People light up; ask questions like these; offer to help. I hoped we would be well received here but it has been remarkable. If I had to narrow it to particulars I would point out the young man saluting the flag on the first day and the couple that sang the Eddystone Light Keepers song. I never saw either one of those things coming.