Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Christmas at Stamford Harbor Lighthouse
John J. Cook, a native of Denmark, was the keeper of Stamford Harbor Lighthouse in Connecticut 1907-09. Cook went to sea early in life and had been awarded many medals during his years in the U.S. Navy.
A reporter once asked Cook how he could possibly enjoy Christmas in an isolated, lonely, offshore lighthouse. Cook explained that with such unpredictable weather and sea conditions, preparations and Christmas shopping had to be done well in advance. He described the Christmas feast they had at the lighthouse a year earlier, with goose, mince pie, and plum pudding. Christmas evening would be spent much like any other, with conversation, or card playing, or perhaps the reading of books or newspapers.
The rest of Cook's reply showed him to be quite a philosopher:
I dunno, it is pretty lonesome here sometimes, especially in winter, but we manage to enjoy our holidays. We can’t go to church on Christmas and we miss the nice music and the fine sermons, but there is a compensation for that. What more soul-stirring music could there be than that of wind and wave as they whistle and roar or moan and swish past our little home? And that light aloft is a sermon in itself. Many a fervent "Thank God," many a heart-deep prayer has gone up, maybe from people who wouldn’t be thinking of such things ashore, when the red gleam of Stamford Light was made out in a storm, or the bell heard in a fog. My little light has its mission just as your pulpit preacher has his; and no one who has watched it through the terrible winter storms can fail to appreciate this, and with it his responsibility. Human life, yes, human souls depend upon that light Christmas and every other night of the year, and I dare guess it’s compensation for the loss of a Christmas sermon to keep the light burning steadily.