Saturday, October 22, 2011

We Have A Winner

Late in August Carolyn Bearce approached the Historical Society with an idea and a painting. Mrs. Bearce offered the painting as a prize in a fundraiser for the Lighthouse. Sales of tickets began with the Lighthouse Anniversary Dinner and continued through the last Open House last Sunday. My sister Lee gave the jar a shake and pulled the ticket just before 4:00. Marie Sullivan of Scituate was the winner and she picked up her prize on Tuesday afternoon. Julie did the honors with the camera while I made the hand off. The Society wants to thank all who participated and offers its collective congratulations to Mrs. Sullivan.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don't Try This At Home

One part Smash Up Derby, one part Open House.

Preparations began early for the last open house of the season.  Running the vac, hiding the sweatshirts, laying out the few things we put on sale each time, setting up the renovated Utility room to serve as the gate, these things take time and as a result we missed the big crash.


This was the scene at 12:40 when I finally made it out of the house in an attempt to drop Haley off at the Bates House on Jericho Road where she was going to volunteer today.  An errant driver, (ya think),  had put his car up on the seawall and it became the event of the day.  He was not hurt badly as when he was removed from the car there was not the sense of urgency one might sense if there was a critical injury.  He can be seen here on the right of the frame, his neck immobilized and the EMT's readying to move him to the ambulance.  I was only a few feet away as they rolled him down the sidewalk and would describe him as a 50 plus gentleman who had one of the worst days ever. And wait for the bills to start rolling in.


Black humor emerged along with speculation as to how one could have arrived by car in such a spot.  "Maybe he needs a new GPS."  "Doesn't he know you can't drive to Dublin?"  "Is that the new Ford Escape commercial?"  The truth of the matter is likely to be a lot less funny.  The fence that forms an angle with the handicap parking spot was clipped by the car before it did its Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang act.  This could have been much worse if the usual crew of bicycles and baby carriages had been in the neighborhood.  I don't know enough physics to figure it out, but he had to have been flying.

The story then shifted to how in the world were the authorities going to remove the car from the wall.  Our tours had begun by then so I was cut off from most of the on the spot reporting.  Julie and my sister Lee picked up the slack.

Having decided that the first flat bed truck sent to remove the car would not be adequate, those in charge shifted to the heavy lifters.  Here you can see them rigging the car.




And at last it was up and off the wall. 
Kudos to Julie for working her photojournalistic magic.

The highlight of the tours today was a visit from a couple related to the third light keeper Ebenezer Osbourne.  They brought information that indicates that one of Keeper Osbourne's sons was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Civil War.  William Henry Osborne was wounded at Mulvern Hill, returned to the battle despite his wounds, and was wounded terribly a second time.  While the couple were here I was able to check the census records for 1840 and saw there that Osbourne had a son of the appropriate age.  It is another example of how each day this building pulls out another remarkable Scituate story or connection.  I thank Ms. McKenna for her contribution.

With luck there will be a heating system in this cottage once again on Tuesday.  The renovation is quite close to its finish and I am eager to get the giant pod out of the driveway. 

I am even more eager to be rid of the Porta Potty. Last weekend, while Julie and I ran out to move the laundry from washer to dryer, an entire wedding party came up the driveway, turned the unit in order to use it, (I had turned it so it was blocked from use,) and rattled Haley with the racket they made. 

I came back and thanked them profusely as they sat in their bus waiting for the bride and groom to head onto the reception.  I thanked them again and again for ignoring the four different signs that mark the property as private, and for having the nerve to move the unit, and mostly for thinking nothing of spooking my kid.  I told them they were a wonderful bunch of guys who probably thought of themselves as brilliant.

It was not the first time I thought that some members of a wedding party were only invited in order to be sure that they weren't going to break into the house of the betrothed.  What happened to being a class act? Three weeks ago a young man walked into the house at 3:30 in the afternoon, in a tuxedo and with a beer in his hand.  I turned him around and muttered down the driveway that there are all kinds of stupid out there. 

I wonder if any of those guys owns a Ford Escape in need of some repair.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Long Time Gone

Sit back.  This could take a while.

The blog has been on the back burner for three weeks as one project after another has captured my time.  The clubs I advise have been put on their feet at school, a new responsibility there has required some attention, and the ongoing renovation of the utility room coincided with preparations for the Lighthouse Anniversary dinner.

150 interested friends gathered at the dinner on Friday September 30, 2011 at the Barker Tavern.  I was especially pleased to have so many of the former Lighthouse families have their work and affection for the Light acknowledged by an audience.  Representatives of the Bates, Waterman, Prouty, Cushman, Cole, Abell, and Gillis families were presented with Certificates of Gratitude for their service.  Other families not in attendance will be sent theirs through the mail as soon as we can get solid addresses.

One of the highlights for me was having Haley offer a toast.


I started with a lighthearted look at the many carvings you can find in the Tower.  It was an icebreaker that worked.  Who knows maybe Jennifer Lopez has visited the Light?


From there I was off on the history I have researched. I will offer the same thanks here that I offered last Friday night as this project was very much a pyramid and was built by many hands.

"First, to Dave Ball who handed me this ball and has let me run with it.  He is the expert and I am the apprentice. 

To Betty Miesner and to Carol Miles I am grateful for their digging into things I could not get to or did not know existed at all.

To Chris Hall, Jesse Morrell, Connie and Laurie Abel, Betty Foster, and the local history belles of the Town Archives and Town Library.  I hope that they recognize that by their sharing of their personal memories all of us are made richer.

To my cousin Joan who came through with more gifts from Uncle Tom.

To all the Trustees and Volunteers of the Society for putting up with my learning curve.

To my own Army of Two - They have given their time and put up with me talking to myself.  No good thing happens without them."

I have considered all sorts of things I would have liked to include in the talk.  I should have done more on the Blizzard of 78.  I should have asked if any of the other families had anything to share. I might have offered some of the unexpected stories I have shared here, of singing Light Keeper songs and being sea sick in bed for instance.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda, is not really my style but I think a great deal is still out there to be said at another time.

Several noticed that I said little about the Army of Two.  In 2014 we will remedy that.

We had the unexpected happen in the midst of the talk when an audience member was taken ill and the Scituate Fire Department was called in response.  They were the epitome of professionalism as always and the audience managed to be enormously sensitive to this misfortune and to my presentation at once.  Kudos to Paula McCloud who managed the evening for the Barker Tavern.  She was a smiling grace under fire throughout the episode.


Another highlight of the evening was this photograph of former Light House residents gathered in front of the Barker Tavern fireplace.  All those years ago the land for the Light was taken from Mr. Barker.  You could say we gathered at his house to celebrate all the events and people that followed from that. Thanks to Kate Leary for this photograph.

The other track I have been following is the renovation of the utility room.  I have a battery of photographs that cover that story and I will be posting them when there are no more trips to the laundry mat, no more tourists eager to use the porta potty brought in for the construction crew, no more twists in schedule that push back the completion date.  The work looks spectacular and I can't wait to revise the manner in which we introduce people to the Cottage during the Open House days.  I have learned a ton about that wing and a great deal has been unexpected.  Some things I have shared earlier but there are a few new turns that for now will be left mysterious.  

We have been extremely fortunate to have a great guy here throughout the project as foreman for Vareika Construction.  He is extremely averse to having an attention turned his way and as a result I won't name him here.  What I will do is state as clearly as I can that this guy is the best of the American working man.  He earns every dollar and the work is going to hold up a long, long time.  

We have been doing without heat as the new boiler is to be installed late in this coming week.  There were a few nights this past week when we were truly roughing it here.  The efforts of the turn of the century Jetty Light Keepers, Prouty and Cushman, became that much more admired when you could see your breath in the bathroom while shaving.  Could that be why they had beards?

The last Open House date for the year is next Sunday, October 16, 2011 from 1:00 to 4:00.  All the Society sites will be open.  Of particular notice is the opening of the Stockbridge Mill for the first time in 20 years.  This is the oldest working mill in the United States and millwright Andy Shrake is making a special trip to Scituate to help the Society run it.  You will not want to miss a chance to see one of the most basic of technologies, and one of the most important, in action once again.


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