A Lighthouse Novel for Young Adults by Nell Wise Wechter

Two children’s books by the same author came across my desk today. Both books are available in paperback and in an omnibus e-book collection. The author is Nell Wise Wechter,1 a native of the Carolina Coast. She wrote the young adult novel Taffy of Torpedo Junction and Teach’s Light. Click the links for book reviews from UNC.

The books and the e-books are available from Amazon worldwide. A special offer by the University of North Carolina Press (UNC) makes the e-book a better buy as it includes the two books for a special price.

I just ordered the e-book omnibus collection as a special present for my fiancé on my Kindle. It sure makes ordering books easy.

A quick note on each book:

Taffy of Torpedo Junction by Nell Wise Wechter

A longtime favorite of several generations of Tar Heels, Taffy of Torpedo Junction is the thrilling adventure story of thirteen-year-old Taffy Willis, who, with the help of her pony and dog, exposes a ring of Nazi spies operating from a secluded house on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, during World War II. – UNC

Teach’s Light – Tale of Blackbeard the Pirate by Nell Wise Wechter

The legend of Teach’s Light has been handed down by the people of Stumpy Point village in coastal North Carolina for nearly three centuries. – UNC

 

What is lighthouse about these books? The North Carolina coast is host to a raft of lighthouses!

Please let the readers know what you think of the books. I will also add a note later when I have finished them.

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FOOTNOTES:

1 About the Author

The late Nell Wise Wechter, an Outer Banks native, was a widely admired author, storyteller, historian, and journalist. As a schoolteacher near Cape Hatteras during World War II, she could look out her classroom window to see ships being sunk by the Germans. Her story of Taffy was inspired by these real events and the courage of the people who lived through them.

Docent Duty at a Lighthouse Plus a Book Review

 

This post is very interesting. It comes from a lady, Kathleen Ernst, who with her husband performs docent duty1 on an automated lighthouse in the United States. She has also written a historically-accurate non-fiction crime novel about the same lighthouse. I asked her permission to reprint the article 2 in full for you, which was given freely, so it is reprinted below for your enjoyment. What a retirement job!.

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Docent Duty by Kathleen Ernst

My husband Scott and I are recently back from our 4th stint as docents at Pottawatomie Lighthouse in Rock Island State Park, WI.  

Rock Island is situated off the northern tip of Door County in Lake Michigan, and Pottawatomie is the state’s oldest light station.

The current lighthouse, built in 1858, was magnificently restored by the Friends of Rock Island in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  It sits on top of a bluff on the northern end of Rock Island, over a mile from the boat landing and campground.  There are no roads on the island, and it takes two ferry rides to get there.

As docents, we give tours to guests from 10 AM to 4 PM each day.  Since Scott and I both love history, and telling stories, it’s a great gig.  We’re also responsible for housekeeping chores.


Otherwise, we get to live at the lighthouse.  How cool is that?

There’s no electricity or indoor plumbing.  (That’s Scott filling an Igloo at the old pump, in the rain.)  But we have a fridge and stove powered by bottled gas, and we get to sleep in the keepers’ bedroom.


We have lots of quiet evenings.  Lots of time for an impressionable writer to ponder stories of long-gone keepers, and to imagine the lighthouse as it once was.



So it was pretty much inevitable that I would write a book about the lighthouse.


In The Light Keeper’s Legacy (coming in October [2012]), my protagonist Chloe Ellefson is invited to serve as a guest curator at Pottawatomie Lighthouse.  She’s excited about the job and eager for some solitude in such a beautiful, remote place.  Needless to say, since this is a murder mystery, her time on Rock Island isn’t quite as peaceful as she’d hoped.

 Writing the book let me explore some new personal issues for Chloe, who is struggling to figure out what she wants from life.  And it let me write an homage to the strong individuals who lived on Rock Island in the 19th century.  The Light Keeper referenced in the title is Emily Betts, a real  and totally awesome woman who served as Assistant Keeper at Pottawatomie.  (In the National Archives photo below, that’s Emily barely visible in the doorway.)

 

The book also showcases the complexities of managing natural resources over the years.  And it let me share a very special place with readers—some of whom will, I hope, decide to visit Rock Island and support ongoing restoration projects.


 It doesn’t get much better than that.

http://kathleenernst.com
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1 docent: A person who acts as a guide, typically on a voluntary basis, in a museum, art gallery, or zoo.

2 The article was originally displayed on the Ink Spot blog which describes itself as a corps of crime fiction authors, so if you like crime fiction then check out their webpages.

Minnie Patterson and the “Coloma” off Cape Beale 1906

– Reprinted  courtesy of The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Cape Beale - photo Justine Etzkorn

Cape Beale, . . . a lighthouse which later came to notice in a gallant and romantic rescue resulting from the actions of Mr. and Mrs. Paterson who kept the light from 1895 to 1908.

In December 1906, the United States barque Coloma left the Puget Sound with a cargo of lumber for Australia. There was a gale from the southeast and, cracking on to take advantage of this fair wind to clear the Straits of Juan de Fuca, the old wooden vessel sprang a leak when she encountered a heavy sea off Cape Flattery. With her decks awash, and the gear aloft carrying away as she pitched in an enormous swell, the Coloma was soon unmanageable and hoisted her ensign upside down in token of distress as she drifted down to leeward and the outlying reefs of Cape Beale.

In this position, and doubtless having let go her anchors to the bitter end, the barque was sighted from the lighthouse. The only chance of help lay in alerting the Quadra, then under the command of Captain Charles Hackett, which Paterson knew was lying at anchor in Bamfield Inlet, six miles away. The lifeboat, it will be recalled, was not on station at Bamfield until the following year. Telephone lines were down and the light keeper was unable to leave his foghorn which required constant attention. Although the trail was blocked by fallen trees and lay for much of the distance along a rocky shore. Mrs. Paterson at once insisted on making the journey herself. It was then night, and in darkness and dreadful weather she set off with a lantern and her dog, hoping against hope to be in time.

The plan was to get the news to James Mackay at Bamfield who would row off to the Quadra and raise the alarm. Arriving at the house physically exhausted, drenched to the skin and with her shoes and clothing ripped to pieces, it was found that Mackay was away from home repairing the telephone wires. Nothing daunted, Minnie Paterson and Mrs. Mackay themselves launched the boat and came alongside the Quadra as daylight came. Captain Hackett weighed anchor at once and the Quadra punched her way out of the Inlet against a heavy swell rolling in from the Pacific. Off Cape Beale the wreck was sighted, a boat was lowered under the command of the second officer Mr. James E. McDonald, and the distressed crew were recovered. No sooner had the boat returned to the Quadra than the derelict parted her cables and drove ashore to destruction. Mr. McDonald was promoted to chief officer shortly afterwards.

Immediately after her courageous action, and before the return of the Quadra with the shipwrecked men, Mrs. Paterson walked all the way back to the lighthouse. She had five children to look after and her husband was constantly at work in a period of rain and bad visibility. It was another week before communications were restored, and only then did the Paterson’s learn of the triumphal rescue which had resulted. Unfortunately, the results of Mrs. Paterson’s tremendous exertion soon made themselves apparent and she never entirely recovered, dying five years later.

More information and photos here on the Tofino History website.

Minnie Patterson – Canadian Heroine Remembered Again

You all know who Minnie Patterson was, don’t you? You don’t? Well, she was a real live Canadian lighthouse heroine who lived and worked with her husband on Cape Beale lighthouse. In 1906 she helped in the rescue of the people on board the barkentine Caloma. Read her story in Wikipedia here. More events on her life below.

Paterson’s story coming to Alberni

Minniesstory-Aug19-2086.jpg 

An engraved silver tray awarded by the Government of Canada and a tea set awarded by the crew of the SS Queen City are on display at the lighthouse on the waterfront. The items were awarded to Minnie Paterson, who in 1906 helped avert a maritime disaster on the West Coast. The story about Minnie is being told at the lighthouse on Sunday, Aug. 21. Start time is 2 p.m.


Published: August 18, 2011 4:00 PM 
Updated: August 18, 2011 4:32 PM

On Dec. 6, 1906, the barkentine Coloma was embattered by a southeast gale off the West Coast shore, her sails tattered in the unforgiving winds.

She drifted within sight of the Cape Beale lighthouse, where Thomas Paterson was manning the foghorn and the light.

The telegraph cable connecting the lighthouse to Bamfield was broken, so his wife, Minnie Paterson, eight months pregnant, walked for miles through the bush and pounding rain to alert the telegraph line-keeper of the impending maritime disaster.

She and the line-keeper’s wife rowed out to the government steamer Quadra, which then reached the Coloma just in time to save its crew.

Paterson’s is a fascinating story that is indicative of the rough life mariners lived on the West Coast.

But to hear the tale truly come alive, join storyteller Jennifer Ferris this Sunday, Aug. 21 at the lighthouse on the waterfront.

Ferris, based in Victoria, has told stories for 15 years.

Her interest and connection to the history of Vancouver Island has provided her with many storytelling opportunities, and she is excited to share this local tale.

The maritime centre has a permanent exhibit on Minnie Paterson and her heroic exploits. Included this year are two special items that Paterson received as rewards.

An engraved silver tray was awarded to her by the Government of Canada, while the officers and crew of the coastal steamer SS Queen City sent her a tea set—a teapot, creamer, sugar and tea waste bowl—in appreciation.

The items were donated to the Alberni Valley Museum last year, and curator Kirsten Smith said they were kept mainly as a souvenir, so they are in excellent condition.

The storytelling event begins at 2 p.m. at the lighthouse. Admission is by donation and refreshments will be provided.

For more information, please call 250-723-6161.

Or visit the website at www.alberniheritage.com and follow the links for the maritime centre.

 editor@albernivalleynews.com