If you do not know what Mise Tales is then please see Mise Tales One.
One or two things have come to mind. A friend wrote and asked if I had ever heard such and such a story about a crazy lighthouse keeper who killed himself.
Reading his story brought to mind another story that I had heard or read about at one time, but a Google search cannot seem to find any reference to either one.
Anyways, here are the two stories about crazy lighthouse keepers. If anyone can help in locating the source, or more information, please contact me.
Tale Number One from my friend.
I was again browsing your multi-faceted site and got to wondering if you had ever chanced on the story of a supposed suicide wherein a keeper bludgeoned himself to death by repeatedly running headfirst into a brick/stone/concrete wall?
The instance as it was told to me almost fifty (50) years ago was that a headkeeper on an unnamed light on the Pacific Coast went mad and performed the terminal skull-smashing in the presence of his assistant keeper.
It was related that the assistant keeper was a recent immigrant from Eastern European background with very little English language capabilities and who, by dint of his Eastern Bloc Soviet state upbringing, was also very fearful of any form of police or military authority.
The story goes that, terrified of being held accountable for complicity in the death, he knocked himself very nearly senseless in physically re-enacting the proceeedings to the RCMP constables who arrived to investigate.
I can’t swear to it but have it in my mind that it was Henry Bergen, Headkeeper on Dryad Point, mid 60’s, who related the tale to me. Now those who knew him will recall that the affable Bergen loved a joke so it could well be that he was just winding me up with a good tale but. . . could it have happened? Over to you.
Tale Number Two is the one I am curious about.
I do remember this took place on a West Coast lighthouse – I believe in Oregon or Washington State, USA.
The head lighthouse keeper was old and near retirement. He had many eccentricities as we all develop as we age. The problem was that he could never keep assistant keepers for long because of these eccentricities. The main complaint was that he would allow no one up in the tower to maintain the light. He kept the tower locked.
When questioned about this by the keepers, they were told that it would disturb his chickens which he kept in there. The warmth from the light kept them warm I suppose.
Anyways, came the day when he was forced off the light because of retirement and ill health. As he was going away he cried out loudly, “But who will look after my chickens?”
Checking later, the supervisor found the tower immaculate; spotless; and not a chicken in site!
The third Mise Tale is something humourous that I found today in an email and have adapted it to the lightkeepers. It is a bit like the humourous Lightkeeper-Management Boat Race.
The government had a vast array of automated lighthouses up and down the coast. Management said someone may steal from them at night; so they recreated a lighthouse keeper position, and hired people for the job.
Then management queried, “How does the lightkeeper do his job without instruction?” So they created a planning division and hired two people, one person to write the instructions and one person to do time studies.
Then Management said, “How will we know the lightkeeper is doing the tasks correctly?” So they created a quality control (QC) division and hired two people, one to do the studies and one to write the reports.
Then Management said, “How are these people going to get paid?” So they created a payroll division and hired two more people – a time keeper and a payroll officer.
Then Management said, “Who will be accountable for all of these people?” So they created an administrative division and hired three more people – an Admin Officer, Assistant Admin Officer and a Legal Secretary.
Then, one year later, Management reviewed the operation of the automated lighthouses and said, “We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $22,000,000 over budget. We must cut back overall costs!” So they eliminated the lighthouse keepers.