Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2016

Wickie's Wisdom

Can the Apathy for Lighthouse History Be Reversed?

By Timothy Harrison


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As well as uncovering yesteryear’s history, ...

Over the past 24 years Lighthouse Digest has published hundreds of lighthouse stories and photos, many that had never been published before and many photos that had never been seen by the general public, especially photographs of the lighthouse keepers and their families. This issue is another perfect example of a large number of photos with accompanying stories that have either never been published before, or not seen for many generations.

In recent months Lighthouse Digest has again, through various means, located a treasure trove of photographs and memories of life from many years ago at a large number of lighthouses that will be published in future editions of the magazine. Most of this was accomplished through diligent, time-consuming and, in some cases, expensive, research that could easily be called “detective work.” However, it will all fill in many blanks in lighthouse history that might otherwise have been lost forever and will now be published and saved for all future generations. But do enough people care?

The answer seems to be “No.”

For example, a beautiful lighthouse photo posted on Facebook reaches thousands of people while historic photos that are posted on Facebook to draw attention to what we have found are barely given a glance or a “like.” Book sales about lighthouses are at an all-time low. In the last fourteen months, hundreds of Lighthouse Digest subscribers have died and they have not been replaced by anywhere close to the number of subscribers that have passed on, which is a true indication of our demographics and perhaps the overall current interest in lighthouse history. Then there are also those who did have an interest in lighthouses, but perhaps it was more like a passing fancy and not a passion, and they have let their subscriptions lapse. Although there are many strong and dedicated lighthouse groups around the country, the larger number of people who honestly care about lighthouse history that relates to all lighthouses seems to be disappearing.

Recent news stories, on-line postings, and social media seem to reflect a dumbing-down of the American mind to the point where the knowledge of history, especially lighthouse history, is no longer deemed necessary. And emotional satisfaction and feeling good seem to be the new standards by which all things are measured and not by honoring and remembering those who came before us and the sacrifices that they made.

The first-hand memories of many of the old time lighthouse keepers that have been passed down to descendants are rapidly being lost as these descendants pass on and the following generations, for the most part, don’t have anywhere near the same interest in those memories. In my humble opinion, most young people care more about pop stars, the latest iPhone, or video games than gaining wisdom and knowledge from our past. But this trend can be reversed, provided that those of us who truly care about history actually do something about it.

We need your help, now, more than ever before. Success is not measured in the fleeting moment; it is, however, measured by being persistent.

One immense way to help is by encouraging others to subscribe to Lighthouse Digest, and better yet, give a gift subscription to your children, your nephews and nieces, school libraries, history teachers, and even friends and neighbors. Although they may not have a current interest in lighthouses and lighthouse history, my guess is, that, over time, enough of them will gain enough of an interest, especially as each and every issue of Lighthouse Digest arrives in their mail box, that it will eventually help to make a difference.

As we go into our 24th year of publishing Lighthouse Digest, we thank all of you for any extra effort that you can render to help us as we move forward in our efforts to save lighthouse history for future generations.

Timothy Harrison

Editor & Publisher

Lighthouse Digest

P.O. Box 250

East Machias, ME 04630


This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2016 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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