West Chop lighthouse and US Coast Guard station.
My dear friend Seamond Ponsart Roberts grew up here at West Chop Lighthouse in the 1950′s. She was the daughter of the last lighthouse keeper. Imagine living next to this beautiful lighthouse on the harbor in Vineyard Haven… the ocean and stunning views right outside the door and the busy harbor only a few feet away. A few years ago I was lucky enough to go inside the lighthouse and the view was breath taking. If anyone should be writing a book about MV it should be Seamond… she’s rich with interesting and informative tales. The lighthouse itself was built in 1817 of wood. It was replaced in 1838 with the current brick one. As far as I know it’s been moved back from the edge of the cliff twice, once in 1848 and then in 1891.
CLICK HERE to read about Seamond.
In response to a previous post I did about West Chop Lighthouse, Seamond wrote the following:
Now, Joanie, you KNOW I’ll have to write about West Chop Light. It’s so dear to me always. Yes, I lived there (in the house away from the tower, as Sam Fuller, our assistant keeper and his wife, Mattie, lived in the tower house). We lived there from 1946-1957. Dad and Sam, as well as keeping West Chop up and neat and shipshape and government working approved, also had the responsibility of caring for East Chop, Edgartown and Cape Pogue, as well as the two harbor jetties at Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. I tell you this to assure you that your tax dollars back then spent on lighthouse keepers paid for a whole lot of work and if a lighthouse keeper was found by the government inspection team to have been “lazy,” well, he was fired. Dad and Sam mowed the lawns at West Chop and East Chop with a push mower and a sickle bar for the sides of the property. They whitewashed the West Chop tower yearly and when we went over to the other lighthouses, our visits entailed a complete inside cleaning job. For East Chop and Cape Pogue, we also brought the mower and sickle bar for the outside work. Being a kid at West Chop was extra neat. I had my very own tower for my lighthouse interpretation of Rapunzel and imaginary dragons, too. When I got older and Elvis Presley was THE rage, well, I took my portable record player over to the tower and turned it up top volume. What a great echo chamber! Sam Fuller, however, living in proximity of the tower somehow (?)just didn’t appreciate Elvis, so my best echo chamber ever stuff didn’t hold out too long. In the summer, we were surrounded by the wealthy and famous and other than visits to see the lighthouse, they left us alone and vice versa. We were miles apart in economic strata. In the winter, we virtually owned the whole “chop,” like it was our own island. I went to school by bus and quite often the town would not plow as far as us, so we frequently got stranded and I got a few extra days of playing in the snow and out of school that way. We had many pets and that kept us occupied. I had a little flock of chickens and they were also my pets. One of them, Henny Penny was a big black hen weighing ove 10 pounds, and she was my special friend. I would take her for bike rides in the basket and take her to the “rich peoples” houses to go dig in their verdant lawns. Mom and Dad read all the time and so did I. I played piano and the record player. Dad played the harmonica and one of our fun things was to go sit on the back porch and sing along with Dad’s harmonica. And, so, as above, along with many other things passed my life at West Chop Lighthouse. I go back as often as I can and always feel a special ownership to that dear place. If you’d like to read some of my stories on the internet, go to Google and type in my name as Seamond Ponsart Roberts. I hope you enjoy reading of times long ago when I was a little lighthouse kid. Seamond