Lubec Channel Light, ME, photo courtesy The Lighthouse People
When Connie learned that her boyfriend Elson Small was giving up his career with the Merchant Marines to be a lighthouse keeper, she had mixed emotions. She was happy that he would no longer be out at sea, but her idea of marriage had not involved living in a lighthouse. But Elson asked her to marry him and Connie agreed, wondering what type of adventure their life would be.
The adventures began with his first assignment as an assistant lighthouse keeper at the Channel Light in Lubec Channel, Maine. Connie was familiar with the lighthouse, since her uncle was the head lightkeeper. Connie was also familiar with the area around the lighthouse in Lubec, having been raised there.
But there was a slight problem with the assignment. The Channel Light was a stag station, which meant only men could live there. The two keepers took shifts, spending a few days at home on land, then switching with the other keeper to work at the lighthouse.
Connie felt like a visitor and not a wife. The lighthouse is a caisson-style, an iron and steel cylinder in the middle of the channel. For her to visit her husband, the head keeper would row over and pick her up on shore. At the lighthouse, she had to climb a 30-foot ladder to reach the deck. Connie was terrified of heights, not to mention water, and it took a lot of persuasion and encouragement from her husband who climbed up behind her as support.
Once on the deck, her relief was soon suppressed by worry as she peered over the railing at the water rushing by, wondering how she would ever get back down the steps. Putting those fears aside, however, Connie enjoyed the short time she had with her husband. They spent time walking around the deck which encircled the lighthouse, taking in the panorama of the landscape.