|PATOS ISLAND LIGHTSTATION|
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Photo by Corbett, undated.
Original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Click image to enlarge.
Day Thirteen of 100 Days in the San Juans
June Burn. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer July 1946.
On Patos, we found the sweetest graveled beach and sheltered cove and sleeping plateau we've ever had in all our camping years. The beach fell away sharply so that the boat hadn't such an easy chance to go aground as it had on Skipjack last Friday night. Above the beach on a jutting point that overlooked Orcas and Sucia and Waldron we spread the tarp and sleeping bags in deep, soft grass. It rained during the night, pat-pat-pat, right close above our heads on the canvas––a sweet sound when you know that everything is well covered against it.
As soon as we had anchored, we found the trail up from the beach, around the point to the lighthouse. The San Juanderer looked like a big glaucous-winged gull sitting on the rich green water of Active Cove. The ubiquitous russet-back thrush kept whistling his evening song from the fir and madrona woods behind the shore.
Scrub salal forms most of the undergrowth of the forest here, with clumps of ocean spray every now and then to light the forest.
How open and grassy Alden Point where the lighthouse stands! There are two dwellings, several smaller structures, water tanks, the lighthouse at the very end of the point overlooking Boundary Pass, Canadian waters and islands, and facing Saturna Light.
Instead of the two families we expected to find, four young boys are stationed here. the CO is a 26-year-old Indian boy, William E. Moody, from Tulsa, OK; the youngest, Paul W. Haltkamp, 20, from Stockport, IA; Joseph J. Mattero, from San Francisco. Haltkamp says he has been longest––too long––at this lonely base. He has been here three months.
The CG cutter comes once a week from Seattle bringing supplies. They are allowed 99 cents per man per day for food but from the look of this list that they sent in last week, I'd say they are out of pocket themselves now and then. Here it is: 2 lbs of cocoa, 25 lbs of sugar, 5 lbs brown sugar, 2 jars berry jam, 7 loaves white bread, 4 lbs butter, 5 gallons fresh milk, 6 dozen eggs, 5 lbs cheese, 10 lbs ice cream mix, 4 lbs hotcake flour, half a case each of peaches, pineapple, peas, canned milk, 10 lbs apples, 5 lbs oranges, 3 lbs grapefruit, 3 heads lettuce, 3 lbs carrots, 5 lbs tomatoes, 5 lbs onions, one cured ham, 5 lbs bacon, 6 lbs round steak, 5 lbs beef roast, 5 lbs hamburger.
Each boy cooks for himself, eats when he chooses, for they keep a 24-hour shift at the light, each boy serving six hours on and 12 off.
Down at the lighthouse there is a very large––oh, 6-ft high, 8-ft wide, say––double panel of dials, clocks, levers, lights and other mysterious gadgets. But the main business seems to be transacted over the radio telephone. We heard them tune in to that and the results were as funny and unintelligible as the tobacco auctioneer's jargon.
At the end of the complicated rigmarole we learn that our old friend; Commander Zeusler, now Rear Admiral Zeusler, coast guard commander, 13th Naval District, is on terminal leave and Capt. A.M. Martinson is taking his place for peacetime duty in these waters.
We thought how strange to get the news of Admiral Zeusler's retirement like this! (Professor Thompson, did you know it? You went to Alaska on what was then Commander Zeusler's ship and here he is an admiral and on terminal leave, that must mean retirement.) Well, well, visit far-away lighthouses and keep up with your neighbors.
See you tomorrow. June.
A post on the author Helene Glidden and the book of her childhood on Patos Island can be seen here.