Samuel Strain of Belfast, Ireland, wanted to help alleviate the loneliness of lightkeepers and their families and provide something that would fill their nonworking hours. His solution was to found the Lighthouse Literature Mission to send free literature and books to these people serving in remote places.
Around 1909, he published a journal called The Lightkeeper and distributed it to lightkeepers around the world. The journal was so well-received that its readers sent him pictures of themselves and their families at the lighthouses where they were stationed. Other lightkeepers wrote articles and sent them in to be shared in the journal.
Old postcard of Skerryvore, Scotland
Between the years of 1910 and 1913, Strain also produced a series of postcards with pictures of lighthouses and lightships. Some of the earlier cards had details about the station printed under the picture such as the lighthouse name, its location, descriptions of the light’s character and fog equipment. Strain sold the postcards to the general public and the keepers, with all profits going to the mission funds to cover expenses. However, if the keepers didn’t have the money but wanted the cards, he would send them anyway, telling them to send the money when they could.
Strain’s efforts were so welcome that many of the recipients wrote to thank him.
Old postcard of Eddystone, Scotland
From a lighthouse keeper in Newfoundland:
“Mrs. Abbott says we shall never be able to thank you enough for your goodness towards us. Your literature has made this island a “Bethel.” It would have been a prison had it not been for same. Now the warm weather has disappeared, and the cold winter approaching. But with Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm. He is on the lonely island the same as the big city. Amen. Ernest Abbot”
From another keeper:
“We received two parcels of books and your kind letter, with thanks…Now sir, I must say heartily, thank Almighty God for placing you in the position you are in to help us poor exiles with so much reading material for so many lonely hours.”
Old postcard of Maiden’s Light, Ireland
The First World War marked the end of the Lighthouse Literature Mission, but for those who benefited from its existence, the kind and generous gesture of Mr. Strain was greatly appreciated.
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
Find more information about The Lighthouse Literature Mission in Lighthouse Digest, who also publishes many photos of lighthouse postcards from their vast archives. seehttp://www.lighthousedigest.com/digest/StoryPage.cfm?StoryKey=3822