Digest>Archives> May 2008

Lighthouse Keeper Friendship Recalled In Painting


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Vassar Quimby is shown here with his wife Lucy ...

When Gerald Quimby recently stopped by the Lighthouse Digest offices in Whiting, Maine, to share some photos and original paperwork of his grandfather, lighthouse keeper Vassar Quimby, he brought along this original oil painting of Maine’s Boon Island Lighthouse. Fred C. Batty painted the one-of-a-kind artwork. However, since his grandfather was long gone, he had no idea who Batty was. The painting has been on display in his family’s home since the 1930’s.

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Gerald Quimby is shown here with the original oil ...

Vassar Quimby was stationed at Maine’s Avery Rock Lighthouse during the devastating storm of 1926 that nearly destroyed the lighthouse. That storm convinced Quimby to request a transfer. His request was granted and he was sent to Crabtree Ledge Lighthouse, a round caisson tower, but he also did not like that location either. While stationed there he sent a number of letters requesting a transfer. In one letter he specifically requested a transfer to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. Instead he was offered the job of a watchman at the Little Diamond Island Lighthouse Buoy Depot in Portland.

Quimby may also have been the only Maine keeper that was offered a transfer from Maine to the West Coast. On August 14, 1933, the Lighthouse Service offered him the job of 4th assistant keeper at St. George Reef Lighthouse in California. Although the pay was more, he must have thought the government officials had lost their minds by offering him a transfer to such a remote lighthouse, so far away from his home state. He turned them down flat. With Quimby’s old family documents and records in the archives of Lighthouse Digest it was discovered that Quimby was transferred to Boon Island Lighthouse off the coast of York, Maine. While there he became steadfast friends with lighthouse keeper Fred C. Batty, who gave the artwork as a gift to Quimby so he would always remember the friendship that was created at Boon Island Lighthouse.

While at our offices we located a duplicate photograph of Fred C. Batty that we gave to Gerald Quimby. He now had a face to go with the lighthouse keeper who did the painting of Boon Island Lighthouse, which had been given to his grandfather so many years ago.

This story appeared in the May 2008 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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