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.

Submarine Races at McInnes

 

Our viewpoint - photo Paul Kurbis

On our lighthouse at McInnes Island we got to see many submarine races. It was usually a random event, and if the weather was good we would sit up at the front of the lighthouse beside the foghorns with our binoculars and radio and notepad waiting for the races to begin.

 

Weather like this was not good - photo Colin Toner

We were notified by radio beforehand and noted the times on our notepad. Good weather was always a necessity, as if it was too rough you would see nothing. The children loved the event as it could occur at any time of the day and so sometimes they could stay up late at night to watch and cheer, or even miss school.

 

 

If the weather was bad we went back and waited impatiently for the next announcement on the radio. They were mostly US submarines as Canada has not too many serviceable ones. Plus, the American ones were faster and provided more fun.

 

If you ever get a chance when near the ocean, try and take in this rare event. See the video below for a touch of the excitement!

 

Continue reading

Howard Frazer Chamberlin Family Adventures c.1930s

– Narrated by Sharlene Macintosh with help from her cousin Zellie Chamberlin Sale (granddaughters of Howard Frazer Chamberlin, lighthouse keeper c. 1930 – 1941)

Nootka Light -photo - Bill Maximick of Maximick Originals

My grandfather was Howard Frazer Chamberlin who was lightkeeper at a few lighthouses around Vancouver Island  – Nootka , Pine Island , Quatsino , Trial Island  come to mind – my Mom knows them all. His brother, Charles Benjamin Chamberlin was also assistant at Nootka.

My Mom, Mina Peet (née Chamberlin) was born in Oct 1933 while her Dad was a lightkeeper. He originally did various jobs such as farming, prospecting, trapping, and logging with horses. He had a sawmill at Coombs, BC and he was injured while logging with horses on Vancouver Island. He was put into hospital where he met my grandmother Dora Anna Wordsell who was a nurse. 

They married December 12, 1928 in Nanaimo, BC. They had three daughters: Connie (who died in 1985), Pearl, and Mina. The first child, a son, died up near Prince Rupert, BC right after birth, so my grandmother was sent the next time to New Westminster, BC  to give birth (at a real hospital) where her parents lived, and the second two times to Victoria, BC.  Continue reading

Was Nootka Lighthouse Also Attacked in WW2?

page 1 of H. F. Chamberlin letter letter courtesy of Zellie Chamberlin Sale

 

Howard Frazer Chamberlin was on Nootka lighthouse in 1942 according to the interview by the Naval Reserve (see letters at left). But there is a problem here.

When I received a copy of this letter I thought it was referring to the attack on Estevan Point which supposedly helped introduce conscription in Canada during the Second World War. But if you check the dates, this seems to have occured almost a month later to the day that the Estevan Point shelling happened. According to all records, the shelling of Estevan Point took place nightfall of June 20, 1942. 

page 2 of H. F. Chamberlin letter letter courtesy of Zellie Chamberlin Sale

This letter seems to show that there was another attack at Nootka lighthouse about a month later on the evening of July 18, 1942. In fact the lightkeeper states that he phoned Estevan Point Wireless station to see if they were being plastered again! (my emphasis – JC) But Estevan returned the call and said that they had heard nothing so it must have been nearer Nootka. From working with explosives in mining and prospecting, Howard Chamberlin knew the difference between industrial explosives and high-explosives. 

The only thing that appears to be at odds here is that he feels the vibration from the explosions as from underwater. I wonder if he was hearing depth charges going off? This is just one month later than the Estevan incident. I will bet that the Navy and the Naval Reserve were on high alert during this time and expecting the worse. Perhaps a floating log triggered the release of a few depth charges. 

A transcript of the original letter(s) follows:

                        From H.M.C.S. “Pryer”
To COAV
Esquimalt BC
                        Nootka Lighthouse
                        2200 / 19 / 7 / 42
Subject
            Interview With Mr. H. F. ChamberlinLightkeeper 

I was sitting in the kitchen of the Light
house, overlooking the sea, and having
a cup of Tea at 1902 hours July 18/42, when
I both felt and heard an explosion from
a southerly direction. (out to sea) and
this was followed by six other shocks
at intervals of about one (1) minute
between shocks.
I was naturally surprised and could
see the vibrations from the shocks in
the cup of Tea.
As an old Miner and Prospector I can
easily tell the difference between “blasting”
and “submarine” shocks, and the shock
I both heard and felt were definitely from
seaward, and from the “feel” of the vibration
I would say from underwater.
The first shock occured at 1902 and the
last shock at 1911, as I noted the time of last shock.
I phoned the wireless station at Estevan Point
and asked them if they had been “plastered” again, and
they informed me that they had felt or heard nothing.
It was at 1915 when I phoned Estevan Pt. Wireless.

Page 2
(same as Page 1 but with signature at bottom) 

Witness
      Chief Skipper J. D. McPhee, R.C.N.R.
            Commanding Officer
                  H.M.C.S. “Pryer”

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– Howard F. Chamberlin (Lightkeeper on Nootka 1936 – 1941)