Point Loma Light House Elegy

Point Loma Light House
Some Thoughts

“I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve.”  George Bernard Shaw

Old Point Loma light is not unique. In the history of the United States there have been around 1,200 lighthouses built. Half of these still exist. All, except Boston Harbor Light, have been automated; they no longer have a human crew. This light stands not just as a representative of a type of structure. More importantly, it honors the men and women who truly worked a 24/7 job.  There were no days off, no sick leave, and no pensions. The work week averaged 76 hours, and every day was exactly like all the days before it, and all the days in the future would be the same: grinding, monotonous, drudgery unless something went wrong. It was dangerous duty. Saint George’s Reef Lighthouse over the years killed six of its Keepers. Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse totally disappeared one night in a storm, taking its entire crew with it into oblivion. Lighthouses were usually isolated and frequently in windy, unpleasant locations.

Yet the Lighthouse Keepers brought to this unsung job a sense of dedication and responsibility, incredibly rare in today’s automated world. The Keepers took pride that, through their efforts, their light had never failed, and on their watch never would.

Many people think lighthouse keeping was a quiet, relaxing job, a sit on the front porch and doze sort of existence. The truth is, the safety of ships and cargoes, the lives of crews and passengers were dependent on how faithfully the Keepers did their jobs. They are a class of people worthy of being remembered and honored, which is what we hope to do with the Keeper’s Quarters in “just another lighthouse”.  If the magnificent, irreplaceable craftsmanship of the lighthouse lens is the beating heart of a lighthouse, the Lighthouse Keepers are its soul.

Bob Munson

Last revised 11-Jan-18