Digest>Archives> Sep/Oct 2012

Wickie’s Wisdom

Just a Skid Mark – No Way!

By Timothy Harrison


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The late Ken Black, “Mr. Lighthouse.”

As I browsed through the social media comments on the recent passing of Andy Griffith, who brought so many wholesome television episodes to American households, unlike much of the trash that is on television today, I came across the following comment, “He is just a skid mark on the underwear of life.” Naturally, I was somewhat disturbed by that statement. Andy was an inspiration to all of us who “knew” him through the characters he played.

However, that particular social media comment made me realize that from reading the daily posts on Facebook, which are made by many lighthouse aficionados, so many of them don’t seem to know or care about those who came before them in saving the history of lighthouses. This is obvious by how many “likes” and comments are made on the “pretty lighthouse pictures” that are posted compared to the number of “likes” and comments that are posted on historical items.

For example, my guess is that many people don’t know about many of the lighthouse authors who we can thank for leading the way in their books about lighthouses, even before some of us were born. They researched history through letter writing and first hand visits long before the days of the Internet and, in some cases, even before the telephone. Some of those names include Francis A. Collins, Mary Ellen Chase, James Otis, Mary Bradford Crowninshield, Bernice Richmond, Malcolm F. Willoughby, Robert T. Sterling, John J. Floherty, George Rockwell Putnam, Edward Rowe Snow, and Hans Christian Adamson. At the rate that old lighthouse books are being destroyed, some of you, especially future generations, may never get a chance to read what these people wrote.

Then there are those who, in recent years, really opened up the floodgates of lighthouse history with their immense research that created books and articles, or those who formed or led a group to save a lighthouse; people who have passed away since we started Lighthouse Digest twenty years ago. Just of few of those names include David Cipra, Harold Jennings, Nellie Ross, Pam Nobili, Rusty Nelson, Al Simpkins, Shirley Morong, Wanton Chase, F. Ross Holland, Merlon Wiggon, Ken Black, Carole Reilly, Lynn Marvin, Jim Gowdy, Richard Melville, Connie Small, Mel A. Hardin, Harlan Hamilton, and so many others who shared so much with the rest of us. Many people who are involved today with lighthouse restoration or preservation never even heard of many of these names.

What’s even more amazing is that there are many people who belong to lighthouse groups who don’t even know the names of the people who started their group, or when or why the group started; this is something I’ve witnessed in many conversations over the years. There are also a number of groups that have no idea where the keepers of their lighthouse are buried, and in many circumstances, their gravesites are not maintained.

I believe that it is vital that we remember and honor those who came before us, whether it is a lighthouse keeper or lighthouse family member, researcher, author, or volunteer at a lighthouse group, all of whom led the way for the rest of us. Fortunately, there are some people out there who are working hard toward this end; there are just not enough of them.

We are all in this together, and the history of each and every lighthouse is intertwined in one way or another with every other. And, every lighthouse group and every lighthouse person or lighthouse volunteer is intertwined in one way or another with each other. This means we must all work harder than ever to work together for the benefit of all, while remembering and honoring those who came before us.

While some people, such as the recent Colorado movie theatre shooter, really are “skid marks,” this is certainly not true of most of those in society today, nor most of those who came before us. It is vital that we learn about and never forget the lighthouse people who came before us who contributed greatly to the lighthouse community. They must be remembered and honored.

That’s my opinion, I welcome yours.

This story appeared in the Sep/Oct 2012 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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