Our Oceana History - Little Point Sable Lighthouse

• Contributed photo

“The first thought that comes to me of memories of Little Point Sable Lighthouse, is remembering the isolation of it. In season other than summertime, we saw no one.

“Our coal and other fuel was delivered by the lighthouse tender which anchored off shore and then used a small boat to bring the supplies to the beach. Planks were laid on the beach to the house and the coal was chuted in our basement by wheelbarrow. At this time the library was also delivered. I remember the good books we were able to read in the winter time. Oh yes, the lighthouse tenders had names of flowers. I remember Sumac, Hyacinth and Marigold.

The house had three stories. We two girls had our room in the third story. It had a big walk-in closet with a window on the end. We used to put on plays. This closet was our dressing room.

“Sometimes geese would fly into the light and break their necks. I remember one time seeing five geese roasting in a huge black pan my mother had. I liked stormy days when the waves of Lake Michigan were high, to run along the beach with the wind blowing my hair and of course, I was barefoot. When I first had wheatena cereal it reminded me of that wet beach sand. One time my sister and I made a wooden platform of material found on the beach. We spent some nights sleeping on this platform. It was wonderful to hear the ripple of the waves. We did use lots of citronella — our defense against mosquitoes.

“We were walking two miles to school at Silver Lake when our school house burned down. We had to finish the year in the wood shed. The next year we walked two and a half miles farther to the Willson School. The road along the channel is now quite high above the channel. When I lived in that area the road was level with the channel and when the water was higher than normal it washed over the road and sometimes we got stuck. There was about a half mile of planking from the lighthouse to get to the place where the ground was more firm. We had a gate at the end of the plank road to keep the public off. You couldn’t meet anyone, as to get off the planks would mean getting stuck in the sand. There was a lot of brass to polish and lamps and even dustpans. It was nice looking at the hills at night and seeing the rays of the revolving light of the lighthouse sweep over the hills at the same time listening to the whip-poor-wills There was no foghorn in this lighthouse. We lived in the Little Point Sable Lighthouse for the first time in the twenties. My dad tells me that, when he couldn’t find us, he would climb all those steps to see if he could find us. He could! These steps had a lacy cut-out work to them. [They still do] When we had visiting day, sometimes the ladies with high heels would get them caught in these steps.

“The boat house wasn’t in use so my dad had it moved up by the house. We used it as a summer kitchen. Sometimes the Coast Guard from Grand Haven would come up and set out nets in Lake Michigan and spend the night with my dad in the summer kitchen. We had some good fish as a result.

“We had our basement full of canned fruits and vegetables; also apples. Winter evenings we would have apples and popcorn while our mother would take words out of the paper for us to spell. Oh yes, the mailbox was a mile and a half away.”

This memoir was submitted to the 1990 Oceana County History Book Volume 1 by Alice Almquist Tennant. Her submission has been edited for length.