Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2017

A Long and Lonely Winter Or Was It Just Whining?

By Timothy Harrison

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The Lynde Point Lighthouse, also known as the ...

“Everything is bleak,” said Violet Horoschak to a reporter from the Baltimore Evening Sun who called her in February of 1976 to ask how she was wintering at the Lynde Point Lighthouse in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Violet lived at 1838 Lynde Point Lighthouse in the 1966 keeper’s house with her husband, Coast Guard Boatswain 1C Robert Horoschak, and their son and the family dog. Living next to them in the duplex house was Coast Guardsman George Bowdler, a married keeper who lived there with his wife and three children.

Violet Horoschak, who was obviously not having a good winter, went on to complain of loneliness, boredom, and longing for spring. According to the newspaper story, “what passes for normal human activity is an abnormality for her in a two family house tucked next to the lighthouse where her husband works.”

With few visitors, she said she passed long hours reading books, and because one of the two families living there always had to be on duty, the families, who had become close friends, could not even go out on the town together.

She said life was much better in the summer months when they could have parties with their friends. “But winter visits from friends are rare. It’s so cold, a lot pf people don’t like to make a special trip in the winter. It’s so boring, there’s nothing to do. It’s a place to get fat, eat, lay around and watch TV. Even my dog has gained weight.”

She said that not even the mailman would come to the lighthouse to deliver the mail from the borough of Fenwick, which was five miles away. Even the school bus would not make the trip all the way to the lighthouse: stopping a mile away to pick up the kids. She went on to say that all the summer homes were boarded up. Only two other families stayed all winter, and they are the only signs of human life for miles.

“The ice smashing on the side of the rocks is about the only noise beside the seagulls,” she said. The newspaper reporter must have been sympathetic to Violet Horoschak, because the reporter wrote, “Her reading taste runs to mysteries, which come in handy on such occasions as the time high water washed out the road to town for three days last year and kept them prisoners in their own home.”

When I first read this aforementioned account, I was someone dismayed by Mrs. Horoschak’s attitude. I had to wonder what the lighthouse keeper’s wives of the 1800s would have thought about this story. Many of them lived much more desolate lives than Violet Horoschak could apparently ever have imagined, especially those who lived on remote island lighthouses with very little contact with humans from the outside world, sometimes for months at a time. And they did not have radios or a television like Mrs. Horoschak. Over the years we have also done other stories from the more modern era of lighthouse keeper families, and very rarely have we published memories that complained this much. In fact, most of those memories told of how much they loved the lighthouse life, in spite of its hardships, which they took in stride.

In my humble opinion, the newspaper story seemed to somewhat portray Violet Horoschak as a prima donna. What’s your opinion?

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2017 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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