Episode 31 – It’s estimated that there are 15 United States lightships left in existence today. Some are in museums and others are in private hands. The Lightship Chesapeake is a museum ship owned by the National Park Service and operated by Historic Ships in Baltimore. Greg Krawczyk, lead maintenance volunteer for the Lightship Chesapeake since 2006 and program coordinator for the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, is the featured interview in this episode of Light Hearted. Also, hosts Jeremy D’Entremont and Michelle Jewell Shaw tell the tragic tale of Keeper Fred Jordan of Penfield Reef Lighthouse in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Episode 32 –Wood Island is a small island about a quarter of a mile inside the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine. A lifesaving station was built on the island in late 1907. Following WWII, the Coast Guard relocated their operations for Portsmouth Harbor to a new station in New Castle, New Hampshire. The property on Wood Island languished for six decades. In recent years the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association has been working on a miraculous restoration. The ultimate plan is for the site to be open to the public as a maritime museum. Host Jeremy D’Entremont had an in-depth conversation with Sam Reid, president of the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association.
Special edition: The Lighthouse movie discussion –The Lighthouse is directed and produced by Robert Eggers. Shot in black-and-white, the film follows two lighthouse keepers (portrayed by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) who start to lose their sanity when a storm hits the remote island on which they are stationed. The first part of this podcast episode is a discussion between hosts Michelle Jewell Shaw, Cindy Johnson, and Jeremy D’Entremont. This second part is a discussion between Jeremy D’Entremont and former lighthouse keeper Chris Mills. Chris is a former lighthouse keeper at 11 different light stations in three provinces on both the east and west coasts of Canada.
Episode 33 – California’s Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a favorite of sightseers and photographers. In September 2019, CA State Parks officials announced that more than $9 million in state funding will go to the lighthouse for a major renovation. Host Jeremy D’Entremont spoke with Linda Hitchcock and Joe Rogers of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Linda is managing the restoration project at the district level, and Joe is the lead person for the Pigeon Point Interpretive Program. Also featured is a segment with Jeremy and co-host Michelle Jewell Shaw chronicling the history of the first lighthouse on the West Coast, on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.
Episode 34 – The granite tower that stands on Whaleback Ledge at the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine, today was completed in 1872. The light was automated and the station was destaffed in early 1963. Among the last Coast Guard keepers was Jim Pope, a local Maine native who was one of the crew from 1960 to 1962. He went on to a long career as a tugboat captain. Jim is a bit of a local legend. Most of this episode is an interview recorded with Jim at the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum.
Episode 35 – The Flying Santa tradition goes back to December 25, 1929, when a floatplane pilot, William Wincapaw of Friendship, Maine, flew to lighthouses around the Midcoast Maine area and dropped gifts for lighthouse families as a way of showing his appreciation for the work they were doing. In the mid-1930s, Edward Rowe Snow, a maritime historian, became involved in the flights. Snow kept the tradition going through 1980. Friends of Flying Santa was formed in 1997. The Friends’ mission remains dedicated to the philosophy that lighthouse keepers and Coast Guard crews were true lifesavers and deserve to be recognized for their efforts. Brian Tague, interviewed in this episode, has been involved with the Flying Santa program since the late 1980s, and he serves as the president of Friends of Flying Santa.
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org