Finishing a brilliant career

For the last twenty years, Sally Snowman has worked as the keeper of the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island. She was the first woman to serve as lighthouse keeper at the lighthouse in Boston Harbor, the oldest continually used and last staffed lighthouse in the country, dating back to before the Revolutionary War. Boston Light, located nearly 10 miles southeast of Boston, was originally built in 1716 and has a light that flashes 27 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Now that she is retiring at the end of the month, she will also be the last keeper of the Boston Light and indeed the last lighthouse keeper in the United States. “It is truly an honor and a privilege to be the only female Coast Guard lighthouse keeper in the country,” Snowman says. “It is very humbling.”  Snowman is the 70th keeper of the Boston Light, with the first 69 all men. A curious quirk in federal law is why Snowman has the position she does today; in 1989 legislation was passed requiring the Boston Light to remain manned, even though the light itself has been automated. When Sally Snowman retires on December 30, 2023, she will the last official lighthouse keeper in the U.S.

Snowman earned a B.S. at Bridgewater State College and a Masters in Education at Curry College. She then worked as a teacher while earning a Ph.D. in neurolinguistics from Walden University.  Sally had always loved the Boston Light, from her visits as a little girl to getting married on the site and even after her life as a college professor she wanted to work on a tiny three-acre island that shrinks in half when high tide rolls in. For fifteen years, she lived largely on the island, joined by an assistant keeper or two sometimes on the weekends. In February, 2013, she and her assistant keeper Audrey Tessier got a call from the Coast Guard: a vicious blizzard was approaching, and they could be evacuated in twenty minutes. Snowman wouldn’t think of leaving. In sixty-mile-an-hour winds, she and Tessier headed to the boathouse to check provisions, clutching each other in a crablike crouch. Back at the keeper’s house, they used a six-by-six post to brace the cellar door against flooding. Through the night, as the house rattled and shook, Snowman felt as if she were in a vibrating bed. “She was like a kid in a candy store,” Tessier told me. “I wasn’t quite as thrilled.” In the morning, Snowman ran from window to window, exclaiming at the seals playing in the surf and the twenty-foot waves crashing ashore. She was unfazed by the possibility that the wind might whip the house off the island: “What a way to go!”

Still, she admitted that she’ll miss the work, and the place—its solitude and appalling winter weather even more than its sun-drenched summer days: “I can’t get enough of it.” When she’s on Little Brewster, she likes to climb to the lighthouse gear room and open an Alice in Wonderland-size door that leads onto the catwalk. She sits there, dangling her legs over the edge, struck by how people from earliest antiquity have tended lights, “for the purpose of guiding vessels safely into harbor, or as warnings to stay away from hazards. This, to me, is a kind of miracle.” 

Lighthouse  beams

I called a niece who lived on the coast of Oregon and asked instructions to find their house while we visited out West. She took a lot of time and great detail to tell me which roads to take and the landmarks at nearly every corner. Following the instructions I had written down we pulled right into their driveway. Getting out of the car, I saw that she had never mentioned that they live right next to a gigantic lighthouse. 

It’s so cold and foggy outside that I kept making mistakes when I tried to send text messages.  I think that it’s the early stages of typothermia.

How many people does it take to change a light bulb?
Is just one of the questions I should have asked before buying a lighthouse….

A lighthouse was installed at an Alaskan cape near a remote Inuit village.
The leader of the village opposed the installation, but the US government overruled him.
One foggy morning, the village leader said to his people, “I told you that thing no good. Look at it: light flash, bell ring, horn go woo-woo. But fog come in, just like always.”

A man was arrested while trying to break into a car in Somerset England. Since the windows were foggy, the man had not noticed two policemen sitting inside the car. 

December 28th Birthdays

1981 – Sienna Miller, 1934 – Maggie Smith, 1981 – Elaine Hendricks, 1981 – Elizabeth Jordan Carr

1954 – Denzel Washington, 1922 – Stan Lee, 1990 – David Archuleta, 1978 – John Legend

Morning Motivator: