Memories of a Coast Guardsman

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dawn brought another beautiful clear day promising many visitors so I put the blueberry scones into the oven early and started the Navy beans simmering, which I’d soaked overnight.  Dee, the president of FOSI, came with salad and France made her onion tart for lunch.  Ken, chairman of the education committee, arrived with John P. Nichols who had lived here on the island with the Coast Guard from 1972 – 1976 and had not visited since.  He had many stories to tell and answered some questions.  He showed us where the foundation to the assistant caretakers house was.  The foundation is a perfect rectangle of brown grass on the lawn in front of the Whistle House, which stands out from the greener rest of the lawn.  It even has a different more solid feel when you walk on it, making me wonder why I’d never noticed it.  Inside the pump house, which I gladly showed him because he had done work on the well, he thought nothing had changed.  I showed him a piece of paper which still hung above the circuit breaker box on which someone had typed up details of the Deep Well Submersible Water Pump Operating Instructions and put it in a plastic sleeve with the information retyped in 2005.  At the bottom of the yellowed half page was the signature of the officer in charge.  It was John P. Nichols himself, MK-1 USCG.

His room during his stay here is our present living room and in our dining room stood a pool table.  He remembers the day when Ray Hamilton was napping in what is now the museum and woke to see the ghost of the woman who was done in by her husband with a hatchet because she played the same tune, presumable the only one she knew, over and over again on the piano.  John was at the desk in the office, the front room of the museum, and saw nothing, but heard Ray’s cry of surprise.  The man swore he saw the figure of a woman.  I wonder how long it had been since he had seen a woman in the flesh and decided perhaps it was just one of those dreams.

I wish a happy night to the two sailors who just came up for a final tour who are spending the night in their boat in the cove.  The wind has picked up and the seas are rough; tomorrow promises to have five-foot swells.  They had seen Seguin for years and never stopped by.  Together with their dog Molly, they were delighted at the beauty of the place and very taken with the sparkling eight foot 1st order Fresnel lens at the top of the tower.  As is the case for so many who stop here, their visit was most likely unforgettable.

I hope Ken and Dee and their guests, which included Officer Nichols and three relatives, made it back to Georgetown safely.  Helping them into a small outboard in a higher tide than I’ve ever seen on Seguin, with waves crashing in on the rocks, was not without effort and I prayed for their safety as I saw the craft tossed about as it diminished into the distance.  If you’ve grown up on the water, as most visitors to Seguin have, they take this all in stride.

France couldn’t resist the shot of the two guys and a gal, who swam ashore, at the sunset bench.  I admitted we’d caught them and asked when I took them up in the tower if they’d leave they’re e-mail address so I could send them the shot, but they disappeared before I could get it.  Maybe they’ll see it here.

Thanks to Doug and Nina who visited and left on Saturday for all the work they did while they were here, sweeping and pruning on the trails.  We enjoyed plenty of sun during their stay and they managed to disappear quite nicely while we entertained nearly 60 visitors last Thursday.  On Friday, while I waited for the grass at the bottom of the tram to dry enough so I could mow, I tried to take the climb along the rocks on the shore from the Cobblestone Beach to the Cove which Cyndy has said is a must, but was confronted with all the young chicks on the rocks learning to fly and taking instruction from the adults who squawked and swooped when I got too close.  I may never see this vista.  I turned around and came back, but got a few shots first of my aborted venture.

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