Kathleen, the daughter of a U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse keeper, spent less than two years of her childhood living on the tiny, granite island at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor. She remembers island life fondly.
“You cannot imagine what it felt like for me to stand there on that island,” she writes about her recent visit to the Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse. “To look at that house, the way, in my mind, it always should have looked, was a spine-tingling, almost unreal experience that is difficult for me to put in words.”
The inn’s exterior is a precise restoration of the lightkeepers house. The inn’s interior, however, is vastly different and houses two luxury guest suites. In the mid-1950s, Kathleen lived in one of two apartments with her parents, Boatswain’s Mate James W. and Marguerite Lorraine Eyles. Kathleen recalls that a pot-bellied stove heated the apartment, and water came from a cistern that was replenished by regular visits from a Coast Guard buoy tender and rain water.
“We generated our own electricity, which was run only at certain times of the day. My Mom said every afternoon I would tell her to start them up, because my favorite TV show was coming on, “The Mickey Mouse Show,” recalls Kathleen, who now lives in Millinocket, Maine.
She said the beds were made of metal, and painted a cream color, with blue Coast Guard bedspreads. “I had pictures of Rootie Kazootie and Polka Dottie (television show puppets) on the walls. My dad had done them with oil paint kits. From my window, I could overlook the little yard and the island across from the Cuckolds.“
Her family kept two dogs, Blackie and Fling, and a hutch of rabbits. Blackie, a Labrador mix, always made sure Kathleen didn’t get too close to the water.
During the summer, plenty of relatives and friends visited the Eyles family, and Kathleen recalls that her parents never went anywhere in the summer because they already lived in a perfect vacation spot.
There were two boats, a wide, flat-bottomed summer boat and a roundish “peapod” that the family used in the winter. The boat slip had two sides, a flat slip for the summer boat, and a grooved slip for the peapod. Kathleen remembers her dad would approach in the peapod, and circle around until he was in line with the slip. “On the slip would be someone holding the hook on a winch, ready to latch on to the peapod and then pull her up to the boathouse.”
Kathleen’s parents made regular grocery and mail runs into town, but travel always depended on the weather. “My Mom learned to make bread when she lived out there. Also, there always had to be someone on the island. If the weather turned bad, and my parents or the other family couldn’t get back, everyone had to know how to check the light and keep it going.”
Once coming home from the mainland, we encountered a whale. My parents were more afraid than I was. They told me to lie down in the boat and be still. I wanted to see the whale,” Kathleen remembers.
The family moved to the mainland in 1956 when Kathleen turned 6 and enrolled in kindergarten. In her mind, life at the lighthouse had been good. “I don’t remember ever be bored. I painted and colored, had paper dolls and played board games. No friends, but a great imagination!”
Kathleen is confident the new inn will impress visitors. “I know they will love it as much as I do.”
The Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse is already booked for the 2014 season. To make 2015 reservations to stay in this unique bed and breakfast, please visitwww.innatcuckoldslighthouse.com.