Thursday, July 31, 2014

Flat Hoarder or Flat Collector?

This will be a true, through and through, confession: I'm a collector, maybe a fanatic--an avid, excited, fascinated, beguiled, determined, directed, helpless hoarder...of lighthouse stuff. A hoarder, yes.

I credit a lingering "hunting and gathering" urge for the cache of collectibles in my office, useless but beloved things filling up cabinets and shelves and drawers, hanging on walls and packed away in trunks, in cardboard boxes, and inside plastic see-through tubs. If it has a lighthouse on it, I have it or want it or feel that I desperately need it. I may, single-handedly, keep eBay solvent!

But, unlike the dreaded hoarders we see on a popular but pathetic TV series, I hoard a specific type of item for a specific purpose, and I keep my collection organized and neat. You won't stumble over piles of lighthouse stuff in my house or office or get lost in a morass of meaningless minutia. It's all categorized and maintained in an efficient, almost obsessive-compulsive way. This is how the accumulated lives of passionate people are kept. If I were the Santa Claus of lighthouse stuff, my flying reindeer would be named: Stasher, Amasser, Gleaner, and Snippin, Squirreler, Ferreter, Filer, and Packrat.

The reason my stash is not a hoard is that most of my collection is flat. Call me the Flat Stanley of lighthouse collectors. I like stuff that can be folded, smoothed, laid on a page or in an album, or filed in a box. In the years when my family moved frequently on military assignments, flat collectibles were easy organize and store. They usually were cheap too, and they didn't take up much space or weigh much--important when there were poundage limits imposed for a move to a new duty station.

So, what does a flat lighthouse-themed collection look like? Patches, for starters. Ziploc bags filled with them. I just bought this one a few weeks ago as a sort of remembrance of spring 2014 and many pleasant hours of writing the Itty-Bitty-Kitty Guide to the Lighthouses of New Hampshire. It features Lake Sunapee Lighthouse.

Sometimes I sew my lighthouse patches on shirts or jackets, but I always remove them when the clothing is sent to a donation center and store them...flat. Recently, I went through my lighthouse patch collection and was amazed at the variety of them--Coast Guard units and ships, police and firefighters, city seals, museums, states, and more. At the beginning of this blog is a Boy Scout Council patch. There are at least a half-dozen of these with lighthouses featured.

Lighthouse stamps and cachets store flat. I can hoard scads of them in a small space. And I do! I loved collecting stamps of all kinds when I was a kid, cutting them neatly off the mail that came to our house and pondering their postal travels. People saved stamps for me. My grandmother in Pittsburgh kept a stash of them in an empty sugar bowl in her cupboard and gave them to me when I visited her every summer. A Sunday school teacher I had in Maryland cut them off her mail and doled them out to me on Sunday mornings--maybe as encouragement to attend and as a reward too.

Lately, I buy lighthouse stamps. Here's a set of pretty stamps I bought in Poland a few years ago. They're special to me because I visited all four of these lighthouses, plus many others in Poland. And, these souvenirs came home flat in my suitcase.

I like to collect (hoard?) postcards for the same reason I like stamps and patches. Postcards and patches have travels attached to them. I have a very large collection of lighthouse postcards, stored in shoeboxes. I collect shoeboxes too, not for the shoes that come in them, but for all the flat things I can store inside those boxes! Here's a small sampling of my lighthouse postcards. Every one of them reminds me of a story or a tidbit from history:

Genoa Lighthouse, kept by the uncle of Christopher Columbus--I'd like to think old CC came to love the sea and wonder about what lay beyond the horizon while visiting his uncle Antonio Columbo at this lighthouse.

I love this colorful 1909 postcard of Sand Key Lighthouse in Florida. It's not only a historic look back at the station when it had a dwelling and boathouse on site (before hurricanes destroyed them), but it also it has that wonderfully plump ring of alligators. I'm sure no alligator ever swam out to Sand Key, adrift as it is in saltwater. But Florida tourists love to send postcards with emblems of the Sunshine alligators...and lighthouses.

Here's an old postcard of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, before it got the big black strip around its middle. You can see the cannons from the fort that encompassed the site and some buildings that are gone now. It's a glimpse back in time. That's the Graveyard of the Pacific behind it at the mouth of the Columbia River. The ship that brought building materials for this lighthouse actually sank right off the site. If that doesn't underscore the need for a lighthouse, nothing does! I've stood on this bluff dozens of times, and it always impresses me.

Labels and decals, paper coasters and matchbook covers--all of these collectibles store flat. I have quite a few of them. Here's a little sampling:

I found the label above in a trade store in Seattle. I never pass a collectibles shop with second-hand stuff. The measure of a treasure is in the eye of the beholder!
Below is one of many lighthouse-themed matchbook covers I've found and stashed over the past thirty years. The New York Times reports that "Close cover before striking" is the most printed phrase in the history of the printed word! Yikes! And it does make sense to put a lighthouse on a matchbook cover. Flash!
Flattened pennies! It's so fun to make these in the penny machines at museums. This is Presque Isle Lighthouse in Pennsylvania, on Lake Erie. This summer, I'm working on an Itty-Bitty-Kitty Guide about the lighthouses of Pennsylvania.
Duck stamps. Every year these colorful waterfowl stamps for hunters offer a few lighthouse scenes. They are so beautiful. I plan to devote a blog this autumn especially to these specialized works of art. Below, from the top, are Barnegat Lighthouse in New Jersey, Assateague Lighthouse in Virginia, and the Sullivan's Island Lighthouse in South Carolina. And, yes, these store flat!!
Magazine ads, torn out and saved, are treasures. Sometimes I frame them, but most go in albums...flat. Advertisers do love lighthouses and the symbolism of them. The older ones can be purchased on eBay or at trade shows. These two ads--alas!!--encourage drinking and smoking. Yes, many lighthouse keepers did both, though the drinking was strictly forbidden. Both of these items were popular gifts for lighthouse keepers at holiday time, usually brought to the lighthouse in a boat by some grateful shore resident. Author Edward Rowe Snow, who played Santa Claus for the lighthouse families in the 1940s-1970s included cigarettes in the packages he dropped from an airplane. Everything in moderation, yes? Times have changed, and cigarettes would NEVER be a gift now. I think we all agree on that.
Speaking of Santa Claus and gifts, Christmas cards are another flat collectible I like. I get a slew of them every December from friends and fans. They are gorgeous! I tape them to the front of a closet door for everyone to see. After Christmas, I carefully peel off the tape and store them. I have hundreds, literally, hidden away in a filing cabinet. I wish I could think of a clever way to display them...maybe on a Christmas tree. Here's one I sent out last Christmas 2013. It was from the National Geographic gift store.
Here's a card with a Wysocki image called "A Gift for the Lighthouse Keeper." Wysocki definitely knew his lighthouses; the details are terrific in this painting. It makes me wonder if he actually witnessed this activity one Christmas, or perhaps he gave a gift to a lightkeeper.

Here's a holiday greeting card I received from England many years ago, from a real lighthouse keeper! John was a great corresponder, and he had plenty of time to write letters and postcards and caption the photos he sent. He's retired now; yet, he still sends me stuff--postcards, pictures, and other goodies. He's a collector of lighthouse things himself...maybe even a hoarder...except that I think he's an expert minimalist, due to years of living on a small lighthouse out in the North Sea. At the very least, he is a flat hoarder.

Lighthouse cartoons? There are so many of these, and if you guessed that they store flat, you're right! I've featured a number of them on my Facebook Page, and people absolutely love them. How many ways can a lighthouse be funny? Here are three, including one by me.

I draw my own lighthouse cartoons from time to time. I thought of this one after writing a magazine article about sea monsters and realizing that many of these crypto-creatures were sighted around lighthouses. There must be a reason for that. I'm not sure what it is, but if I were a striped, plump water-horse, I'd fall in love with a lighthouse! (Check out the expression on the lighthouse. Yikes!)

And the list of flattables could go on and on and on...  There's no end to the kinds of lighthouse collectibles that store flat and can be appreciated flat. Articles, trading cards (Hassan Tobacco Company produced such pretty ones in 1910!), photos, fabric swatches, bumper stickers, book covers, posters, calendars, license plates, drawings, restaurant menus...  You get the idea.

This might be my favorite flat collectible, a drawing my daughter made in the car on a trip from New London, Connecticut to Long Beach Island, New Jersey in the summer of 1991. She was eighteen and loved to draw. We were celebrating her high school graduation with a fun road trip together. We lounged on the beach and visited this lighthouse. Can you guess which one it is?

So...what are you collecting...that's flat?




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Eeecckkk!!! Lighthouse Mice

I found some telltale signs of a mouse in my home yesterday, on a shelf in the guest room closet where I store copies of my books. I rarely go in that room, unless company is coming, and our cats can't get into the closet. So that mouse had fun exploring...and possibly checking out all the lighthouse books.

Everyday experiences like this trigger ideas for my lighthouse blog. Mouse...mice. Lighthouse mouse...lighthouse mice. Let's talk about them--

Most, if not all, lighthouses had/have mice. Mus Musculus, as the house mouse is properly called, moved into every new lighthouse soon after it was built. Some of them were already in residence in the fields and woods surrounding lighthouses. Others came by way of ships, as stowaways, or as those famous mice and rats that desert a sinking ship.

Lighthouse keepers dealt with mice much the same way we do: They set traps, they kept cats and dogs, they went after the pesky little vermin with clubs and BB guns, and they complained bitterly about having to live with these tiny, opportunistic creatures. I haven't found a happy true tale of lighthouse mice yet. They weren't adopted as pets or even tolerated as nuisances.
Lighthouse cats were prized for their rodent-catching skills, especially at island lighthouses where few or no predators lived and mice populations could explode. Accounts of mousers are numerous though, some of them quite fun!

One of my favorite mouse tales comes from Cape Neddick "Nubble" Lighthouse at York, Maine. The lighthouse sits on a tiny islet a few hundred yards offshore. Lightkeepers at the "Nubble" kept cats for companionship but also to catch the mice. One mouser in particular was so efficient he eradicated the entire mouse population on the islet and then had to go ashore in search of the rodents. His name was Sambo Tonkus and he lived on the island in the 1930s. It was quite a treat for tourists standing on shore to watch old Sambo swim the tidal channel between the "Nubble" and the mainland. He'd come ashore some mornings, shake the brine off his fur, and walk past the onlookers with a determined tomcat stride. Hours later, he might be seen returning with a fat mouse in his mouth, which he carried home for his supper. Below is the "Nubble," the light station, and the channel Sambo swam. Further down is a picture courtesy of William O. Thomson from the website that shows lightkeeper Eugene Coleman with Sambo.
A lighthouse in Western Australia got its name from the belief that rats infested the place. Abel Tasman, the first westerner to chart this area, went ashore at the island a few miles off present-day Freemantle in the 1600s. There was no lighthouse yet, but he found a curious little creature that resembled a rat. In fact, there were lots of these little rat-like creatures, hopping like mini-kangaroos. So Tasman named the place Rottnest, which in Dutch translates roughly to Rat's Nest. It turns out the little creatures weren't rats at all, but a rare endemic marsupial the Aboriginal people called a quokka. I met one of these cute little guys on a trip to Rottnest Island in 2000. He gladly took a potato chip from me. (Shame on me for feeding the wildlife, but...he was too cute!) Here's one of the two lighthouses that now stand on Rottnest Island, Wadjemup Light.
And here's that cute little quokka that took a potato chip from my hand! Yes, it does resemble a rat...from a distance anyway. Up close, it's more squirrel-like. I'm sad to report the Aboriginal people hunted these little guys and toasted them on a stick over a fire. They were endangered for a few years but their population on Rottnest is now healthy. Photo by my husband, Jon DeWire.

The idea of a rat in a lighthouse is not so pleasant, but a mouse in a lighthouse is somewhat beguiling. Poets and storytellers haven't overlooked this cute little character; they've embrace him! Check out some of the children's books written on this theme (most of these are found on Amazon, evidenced by the "Look Inside" arrow):


The mice featured in these stories are always nice mice. They help out the lightkeepers, rescue people, and do amazing stunts. Real lighthouse mice do what real mice do--chew up stuff, raid the foodstores, leave mouse droppings everywhere, scare the lighthouse family, and perhaps provide entertainment and a meal for the lighthouse cat.

Disney's famous mouse, Mickey, is associated with lighthouses. Walt Disney seems to have had a fondness for lighthouses and included them in all his parks and resorts. When Disneyland opened, the attraction called StoryLand had a lighthouse to greet visitors. It became a popular place for pictures, often staged with Mickey Mouse. Below is a trinket from a Disneyland gift shop that speaks volumes about the lighthouse mouse! I posted it on my Facebook page today, because Disneyland first opened on July 17, 1955.
Cartoon mice have had their day at lighthouses too. Warner Brothers cartoons featured Sylvester the cat as a lighthouse keeper's cat who did battle with a naughty mouse. The rodent couldn't sleep because the lighthouse beam swept across his mouse hole, so he went up to the lantern and cut the electrical cord to the beacon with scissors. (Nickelodeon cut that part when it revamped the cartoon for modern-day viewers--too unsafe!) There was also a kangaroo in the story. Here's a website that shows clips from the cartoon with commentary:
To wind up this blog on the ever-popular and ever-present lighthouse mouse, I think John Ciardi's 1962 poem is in order:
The Light-House Keeper's White Mouse
As I rowed out to the lighthouse
For a cup of tea one day,
I came upon a very wet white-mouse
Out swimming in the bay.
"If you are for the light-house,"
Said he, "I'm glad we met.
I'm the light-house keeper's white-mouse
And I fear I'm getting wet."
"O light-house keeper's white-mouse,
I am rowing out for tea
With the keeper in his light-house.
Let me pull you in with me."
So I gave an oar to the white-mouse.
And I pulled on the other.
And we all had tea at the light-house
With the keeper and his mother.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Notebook Fetish

Yesterday, I attended at workshop at the college where I teach. I took along a new notebook and labeled it appropriately for the topic at hand. It’s a bright red, spiral-bound notebook. On the front I neatly wrote the topic with a black Sharpie, and in the upper, right-hand corner I affixed a return-address label, in case the notebook gets misplaced. The woman sitting next to me in the workshop smiled and introduced herself, then added: “New notebook, I see! Here’s mine.” She had a similar one in aqua blue.

Notebooks. I can’t own enough of them; I can’t pass up a sale on them. The back-to-school sales have begun in local stores, and I’m in heaven…because…well…I LOVE office stuff!!—paper clips, rubberbands, all types of pens and pencils, folders and files and those wire gadgets for holding them, labels and adhesive dividers (because I simply must categorize everything!), 3x5 cards, 5x8 cards, desk calendars, notepads, file crates and file cabinets, scissors, glue sticks, rulers, markers, highlighters…

You get the idea.

I do feel sorry for the kids, though, having all this school stuff thrown at them in mid-July when summer vacation isn’t even half over. Here in Washington, school vacation has barely begun! But I’m glad to browse the back-to-school sales and stock up on things I probably don’t need. Notebooks are 19-cents at one of the stores in town. I’ll buy a dozen or more.

I like spiral-bound notebooks with colorful covers. There’s an entire drawer full of them in my main desk, and lots of smaller types in the other office desk. The closet outside my office has a stack of notebooks. Then there are the various small notebooks and notepads and sticky-note thingies for keeping track of everything. The filled and partially-filled notebooks are saved…in files of related topics, in boxes, on shelves as if they are books. Sometimes I splurge and buy fancy notebooks with pretty scenes on the covers. I have many with lighthouse scenes and cats and flowers and dragonflies.

I’m wondering if anyone else out there has a notebook fetish. All writers probably have this harmless addiction; some have it worse than others. We dedicated scriveners like our “stuff,” and it’s usually made of paper. I have trouble throwing away anything with writing on it. So the notebooks collect and gather into piles, and fill boxes and drawers and filing cabinets; they sit in stacks on desks and in crates and on chairs. Ultimately, I turn to the keyboard to finish projects. But all writing starts with notebooks, even this one. (I have a notepad in my handbag I scribbled with these thoughts while waiting at the pharmacy last week.)  I could transcribe my notes into files on my computer, and sometimes I do; but, I’m mostly old-fashioned about the process. Pity the trees! I can’t give up paper and notebooks.
I’ve decided that my notebooks are extensions of my brain. I have dozens and dozens of them at any one time, and I get really excited when I can start a new I did yesterday at the workshop. I collect notes like some people collect stamps or postcards or recipes. Those items get mounted in albums. I mount my notes in notebooks.

I have active notebooks, notebooks in limbo (who knows when the topics might come to life?), and retired notebooks. Every few weeks, I dig out a few notebooks and look through them…commune with the ideas and information they contain. I simply cannot throw away any notes and ideas.

What kinds of notebooks do you have? I'd hate to think anyone lives that celebrated uncluttered life, minus a notebook or two.

Here are a few of my notebooks. See if you have any of the same—

Ideas: There’s a little idea notebook in my handbag, for when I’m out and about and that Eureka moment hits or I stumble upon an important bit of info. I began this blog entry in my little handbag idea notebook. There's a small one tucked in the drawer of the nightstand by my side of the bed. I have a bigger idea notebook on my desk, and one by the sofa where I sit in the evenings. They are more formalized and more detailed. With regularity, I transfer the ideas in these notebooks to topical files and my Facebook/Blog/article idea notebook.

Assignments: I usually generate my own writing assignments, but sometimes editors send them to me. Either way, I start a notebook immediately. One part, usually the back, is jumbled thoughts and plans, very scribbled. The front is organized and outlined—a framework for the article or book or video or talk. Right now I have a notebook on Pennsylvania. It’s my workbook for a new eBook that should debut in August: The Itty-Bitty-Kitty Guide to the Lighthouses of Pennsylvania. Notebooks for the other two eBooks in this series are already retired. And in my large filing cabinets are the notebooks for my other books. I save these huge files and show them to my students, usually when they start grousing about having to write a two-page response to something I assigned them to read.

Daily Activities: I use a desk calendar as an at-a-glance scheduler, but I use a notebook to plan, track, and reflect on my work. Work needs initiation, action, and closure. The “DA,” as I call this notebook, is a running list of things I need to do each day, everything from emails I need to answer and write to organizational tasks (filing pictures is a huge one!) to actual hours of writing. Do I write a blog today? What will go on my author Facebook Page? How much time will I devote to my current book project? Is there an article I want to work on? Do I need to go to campus today to teach or attend a meeting and what needs to be done for that? I spend time each night reviewing the day’s activities in my DA notebook and making a list of tasks I want to do the next day. I prioritize the tasks and check off each one as I complete it, or jot down a note about what's left to be done. Every few days, I look back to see what I’ve accomplished. This notebook keeps me organized, on task, and motivated. I suppose I could use the planner on my phone or my computer, but I like a notebook. It feels more in the moment, and a page is more friendly to the touch than a screen.

Inventory: This is a multi-use notebook where I keep lists of things. I like lists as much as the notebooks that hold them. Some of my lists are trivial, as in a list of all the countries I’ve visited, a list of all the pets I’ve ever had, a list of books I’ve read, a list of lighthouses I’ve visited. Others lists are critical: all the things in the house that need re-setting after a power failure; dates bills are due; phone #s of credit card companies and billers; people to call if there’s an emergency; family and friend birthdays. I like to send birthday cards and birthday wishes.

Health Journal: I learned to keep this many years ago. It keeps me honest about what goes in my stomach and how many calories I consume, how many steps are on my pedometer, my weight, what my blood pressure is throughout the month, what meds and supplements I take, and so on. Years ago, I suffered from migraines and my doctor asked me to document them: how often, how severe, vision symptoms, etc. He emphasized patterns. They’re important, I know. Patterns tell a lot about anything and everything. I have to admit I don’t enjoy this notebook much…would rather skip writing in it.

Essentials: Maybe you have one of these. I call mine the "Little Black Book," because I'm a slave to it and I love it too. It keeps me in order! I’m forgetful, but I also think my life has become really complicated in recent years. There’s a lot of stuff to remember and keep track of…I can’t remember all the logins, user names, passwords, etc. in my life. I haven’t memorized account numbers. I can’t recall which bills go to which credit cards. I need pages of protocols for how to do things on my computer. I need step-by-step directions for how to get into Netflix, how to use features on my cell phone, how to send a package UPS third party, how to hook up my little RV to power; how to program the sprinkler system, how to start the generator if the power goes out, which gas cans in the shop go to which machines. This is my secret notebook. Don’t ask me where I keep it!

Minutia: Here’s where all the stuff goes that doesn’t seem to have a home yet. If I see or hear or read something that I think is special or inspiring or funny, I put it here. Often, a tidbit gets transferred off a sticky note or from my little handbag idea notebook, even a paper napkin or a receipt on which I’ve scribbled notes. For example, two nights ago there was a gorgeous sunset to the west of my house over the mountains, a bank of cantaloupe-colored clouds with gold fringes. Orange clouds comingled with lavender and purple ones. I could, in places, see curtains of rain pouring out of the clouds over the mountains. There were distant flashes and rumbles. I watched for about twenty minutes, until the colors faded and the mountains turned purple. (The glory of a sunset is too fleeting!) When I crawled in bed I was thinking about that tableau and how differentiated it was—some spots blazing with rays behind the mountains’ profile, some a mix of sun and clouds and virga, and other places dark, wet, ominous and noisy. I Googled “sunset” and found this quote: “There is nothing more musical than a sunset.” Claude Debussey thought. I scribbled it into my Minutia Notebook, because I like it. Sunset Symphony in three movements. I also looked up the lyrics to Judy Collins' song "Clouds." Who knows if these words will ever be used in any project. At the very least, they exercised my imagination.

And, then, there are all my topical notebooks, with research notes and clippings taped in them, sketches, lists of books and articles and websites and other sources, photos affixed… On my desk at this moment are topical notebooks on Pennsylvania, Europa Point Lighthouse, and redwood trees.

I can’t seem to have enough notebooks. A notebook hoarder, I am! When I’m gone, there’ll be so many of them to be cleaned out of my office. No one will want them, as they‘re hard to decipher. I scribble in invented shorthand. Many writers do that. These notebooks of mine will make a great bonfire, I suppose. But...possibly...perhaps...they are a record of sorts, of me. Documenting life isn’t all that bad. I don't think this is abnormal...


It appears I'm in good company!

I’ll wrap up this confession now. Those 19-cent notebooks are calling, and I suspect all the writers in my neck of Washington have already descended on the sale and grabbed up some of the best ones!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We All Scream for Lighthouse Ice Cream!

A spell of hot weather has descended on the Pacific NW, perfect weather for ice cream. It's my favorite dessert, though I try to eat it in moderation due to the high fat and calorie count and the sugar content. It's a treat one day a week, which makes it extra special.
With July being National Ice Cream Month, I thought I might write a blog entry about the quintessential American dessert...with a lighthouse connection of course!
But first, some history: How long has ice cream been around and who invented it? No one knows for sure. But I found some "cool" information about the history of ice cream on the Old Farmers Almanac website (, henceforth referred to as OFA--
As far back as about the year 54 (over 2,000 years ago, whew!), Roman Emperor Nero craved a treat that was similar to ice cream. His slaves went into the mountains to fetch snow and ice, brought it to Rome (how'd they keep it cold?), and mixed it with fruit pulp for a scrumptious treat to satisfy the mercurial emperor's taste buds...and perhaps mollify his madness too. Some 600 years later, emperors of China's T'ang dynasty enjoyed a similar treat, though this time fermented milk was added. Fruit, ice, and milk...they were edging closer to today's ice cream!

Who knows if anything resembling ice cream was made during the Dark Ages? I've read that "iced fruits" were served at the Christmas Court of England King Henry II; possibly that was a form of Medieval ice cream. Catherine Medici supposedly perfected an early Italian Ice and then took it to France, from whence it spread throughout Europe. Ice cream made from fruit and cream definitely was made in Europe during after the Renaissance, and the recipe was brought to America with the Colonists by the 1700s. OFA's website reports:
On May 19, 1744, a group of VIP's dined at the home of Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen. Present was a Scottish colonist who described "a Dessert...Among the Rarities of which was Compos'd, was some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most deliciously."
George Washington had "a cream machine for ice," but no one is sure if it made ice cream. I'd like to think it was like the snow ice cream my sister and I made as kids (back when it was safe to eat snow!). The recipe was simple: snow, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla extract; stir together and freeze. The photo of our first president enjoying a little summer treat is from
These early forms of ice cream were rendered by the "pot freeze" method, which was done by simply mixing the ingredients and freezing them in a pot insulated with salt and some sort of cloth or matting. The mixing was the secret. As we all know today, cream needs to be beaten to form itself into a solid. A 1718 cookbook printed in England and called Mrs. Mary Eales's Recipes had the first known printed recipe for ice cream. Curiously, she didn't beat the mixture, but it still tasted good, I'm sure. Here's the recipe from
Take Tin Ice-Pots, fill them with any Sort of Cream you like, either plain or sweeten'd, or Fruit in it; shut your Pots very close; to six Pots you must allow eighteen or twenty Pound of Ice, breaking the Ice very small; there will be some great Pieces, which lay at the Bottom and Top: You must have a Pail, and lay some Straw at the Bottom; then lay in your Ice, and put in amongst it a Pound of Bay-Salt; set in your Pots of Cream, and lay Ice and Salt between every Pot, that they may not touch; but the Ice must lie round them on every Side; lay a good deal of Ice on the Top, cover the Pail with Straw, set it in a Cellar where no Sun or Light comes, it will be froze in four Hours, but it may stand longer; than take it out just as you use it; hold it in your Hand and it will slip out. When you wou'd freeze any Sort of Fruit, either Cherries, Rasberries, Currants, or Strawberries, fill your Tin-Pots with the Fruit, but as hollow as you can; put to them Lemmonade, made with Spring-Water and Lemmon-Juice sweeten'd; put enough in the Pots to make the Fruit hang together, and put them in Ice as you do Cream. 
In 1843 in Philadelphia, ice cream making was changed forever when Nancy M. Johnson patented her Artificial Freezer, a contraption much like today's ice cream makers. It had a tub, a paddle, and a crank. The process included beating or churning the ice cream for a nice, creamy, semi-solid texture. Who doesn't remember a hot summer day turning the crank on one of these gadgets--a modern one--to make ice cream the old fashioned way? The calories expended turning the crank justified eating that rich ice cream!
Seven years after Nancy M. Johnson's invention, a Pennsylvania farmer named Jacob Fussell used a surplus of cream to make ice cream and served it up to his neighbors. It was such a hit he built an ice cream factory at Seven Valleys and began "cranking" out the good stuff, which he loaded on a railroad freezer car and shipped to Baltimore. It sold well here and then was marketed to other mid-Atlantic cities. We all know cities can be stifling hot in summer, and ice cream soon became the preferred method of cool-down!
Ice cream concoctions, like sundaes and sodas, began appearing in the 1880s. The patent for the ice cream cone was granted in 1903. (The inventor must have been looking at a lighthouse when he thought up the idea!)

By World War II, ice cream was packaged and sold in grocery stores. It was hugely popular with American soldiers, and the military became one of the world's largest producers of ice cream. I find it strange that my father, a WWII vet and big fan of ice cream, never mentioned this. He talked about chocolate bars being handed out to soldiers on the front, but never ice cream. Keeping ice cream cold and getting it to the troops must have been a logistical challenge!
Today, ice cream seems to be in everyone's freezer and on every street corner. It's eaten any time of year but especially loved in summer. It comes in all sorts of designs--cups, cones, sandwiches, popsicles, cakes, cupcakes, pies, you-name-it. Going out for ice cream makes for a fun date for the young and not-so-young. I don't hesitate when Jon says, "Let's go in town for ice cream or frozen yogurt!" It's especially pleasant when the evenings are warm and we can sit outside to enjoy our treat.

A website called has an "Edible Architecture" page that really understands the resemblance between the lighthouse and the ice cream treat!

You're probably wondering how I plan to connect lighthouses to this story. If you've been looking at the images in this blog, you've got a already know. Ice cream is synonymous with fun, the beach, summer vacations, and wholesomeness. It tastes best on the hottest days. Lighthouses evoke images of ice cream cones, ice cream sodas, scoops of the rich and creamy dessert, and more. Who wouldn't enjoy ice cream served at a lighthouse?

Several lighthouses I've visited have been repurposed as ice cream shops, or faux lighthouses have been built for the business. I had ice cream at Neils Harbor Lighthouse in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in July 1999. The cute little lighthouse was 100 years old that year and was serving up centennial cones with little Canadian flags stuck in the top of them! The 59-foot-tall lighthouse is still an active navigational aid with a fixed white beacon. It's owned by the Canadian Coast Guard, but a local fire department is allowed to sell ice cream at the lighthouse in the summer time. Jon and I sat at a picnic table on the deck built around the tower. It was heaven--three of my favorite things! (Lighthouse + Vacation + Ice Cream!) Outside, someone had made a mobile and hung it from a stick on the deck railing--lacquered ice cream cones stuffed with painted balls and hung from a little wooden model of the Neils Harbor Lighthouse. De"light"ful! Neils Harbor Lighthouse & Ice Cream Shop is pictured below.
The Canadian lighthouse below at Arisaig Point on the Northumberland coast of New Brunswick sells ice cream too. There must be something about this shape that says "ice cream!" I love the lobster weathervane. There's a Lobster Interpretive Center inside the lighthouse to detail the lobster fishery of the area, along with the ice cream counter. This structure is a replica of the original Arisaig Point Lighthouse, which burned down in the 1930s.
Quite a few ice cream shops feature a faux lighthouse. Fake lighthouses are nearly as popular as the real ones! Put a lighthouse on your business, and people will come. Here are some examples:

These two delicious establishments are on the New Jersey shore.
Here's the Lighthouse Sweetery at Grand Vista Marriot, Orlando, Florida. You can buy an ice cream treat and then climb to the top! I lived in the Orlando area for four years and wrote a book in 1987 called the Guide to Florida Lighthouses but this lighthouse isn't included. It's a recent construction and not a "real" lighthouse. If you've been to Orlando, you know it's some 50 miles from the sea! But it's HOT and HUMID, and ice cream is a favorite treat with visitors and residents.

Here's a fun spin on the iconic Cape Neddick "Nubble" Lighthouse at York, Maine. The ice cream shop sign has the lighthouse replaced with an ice cream cone. You can enjoy America's favorite treat while viewing the lighthouse across the tidal isthmus.

You might be wondering if lighthouse keepers enjoyed ice cream. Of course they did! Many lighthouses had a cow (cream), chickens (egg yolks), delivery of salt and sugar from the supply ship, and access to ice. Ice houses and ice cellars were used before refrigeration came to lighthouses. Most lighthouses were hooked to electricity by the 1930s, after which they had refrigerators. A churn and some muscle, and maybe some fruit, and lighthouse families had ice cream.

My research files have several anecdotes about ice cream. My favorite is from the late Barbara Gaspar, who grew up at the two lighthouses on Block Island, Rhode Island in the 1930s and '40s. She shared a number of her family recipes and talked about her mother making jelly from wild rose hips, blanc mange from seaweed, and ice cream. When Barbara's father went into the little town on Block Island in the summer, he sometimes fetched home "a load" of ice in an old wooden box lined with burlap. There was a refrigerator at Southeast Lighthouse but it didn't make enough ice to spare for making ice cream, so Howard Beebe splurged and bought ice. The kids picked raspberries every August, and then ice cream was made in an old wooden churn. This usually happened on a Saturday, along with a picnic and a baseball game in the yard next to the lighthouse....overlooking the wide expanse of the Atlantic. The neighbors were invited and the kids brought their gloves to play ball. Barbara said a baseball hit over the cliff was considered a homerun, since there was no chasing down a ball that went into the ocean!

By now, I hope you're sufficiently hot and hungry and drooling for something cold and sweet. How about some lighthouse ice cream to salute National Ice Cream Month. If there's no lighthouse-turned-ice-cream-parlor nearby, try some of this!
Lighthouses remind us of a fun day at the beach and a drippy, delicious ice cream cone! The flavor is "New England Lighthouse Coffee." Few people could make coffee like lighthouse keepers; how else could they stay awake all night watching that hypnotic beacon??!!