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Home by Tug at 103

Connie Small at 103

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She was the lighthouse keeper’s wife more than half a century ago. Now aged 103, Connie Small thought she might never glimpse her old home from the sea again. But then along came Tug Alley Too. (Update included: Connies Small died in January 2005)

 

 

UPDATE: Connie Small Dies Peacefully at 103

Tugboats aren’t just for pushing big ships around. They also provide a steady base for a delicate mission. When tugboat owner Bob Hassold offered Connie Small the chance to see her lighthouse home again, she grabbed the opportunity.

"The morning was perfect," Hassold said when he showed us the photos he had taken. "The day was misty, not hot and the seas were calm."

Lighthouse Keeper's WifeWife of the former keeper at Portsmouth Harbor Light, Connie Small with her nurses from the Wentworth Nursing Home and friends traveled aboard Tug Alley Too to the mouth of the Piscataqua. Capt. Hassold, who offers tugboat tours of the harbor, edged close to Small’s former home, the keeper’s cottage by the lighthouse in New Castle.

Connie and her husband Elson Small were the last keepers of the light starting in 1946. She has recorded her memories in a popular book entitled "The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife. The lighthouse was taken over by the Coast Guard two years later and today automated in 1960. Today it is managed by the active Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Light. Small, who has lectured about her experience over 600 times, was recently named "guiding light" by the lighthouse group.

VISIT: Tugboat Alley web site
SEE: More about Connie Small by Jeremy D’Entremont
BUY THE BOOK: From Amazon.com

Tug Alley Too

Connie Small

Tug Alley Too cruise boat

Photos of Connie Small by Bob Hassold. Photo of Tug Alley Too from the tall ship Friendship by Leonard Sagren. 

CONNIE SMALL DIES AT 103 (continued)



Connie Small Dies at 103

Memo from Jeremy D'Entremont
January 27, 2005

Dear Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse,

We've lost a true guiding light. Our honorary chairperson and inspiration, Connie Small, passed away on January 25, 2005, at the age of 103.

As most of you know, Connie's husband Elson was the last official keeper (leaving in 1948) of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. Before that, Connie and Elson served at Lubec Channel Light, Avery Rock Light, Seguin Island Light, and St. Croix River Light. At the age of 85, Connie wrote a wonderful book called The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife.

I first met Connie about seven years ago. My wife and I visited her and I interviewed her on videotape for a couple of hours. I'll never forget how friendly and generous she was, and it seemed like she could have talked about her days at lighthouses forever.

I'm sure everyone who knew Connie has their favorite memories. I remember in 2001, when the American Lighthouse Foundation honored her at Yoken's in Portsmouth for her 100th birthday, we had a group of fourth graders from the Dondero School in Portsmouth sing a song about lighthouses for her. When the children met her, one little girl asked if she could come and live with Connie. Anyone who ever met Connie can understand why this girl felt the way she did, but Connie had to explain that she couldn't take the girl home. I think the girl thought Connie still lived in a lighthouse.

I think many of us though she'd live forever because her spirit was so strong, so it was kind of a shock to hear she died. But when I visited her the day before Christmas, she looked much worse than she had just a few weeks earlier, so I was somewhat prepared. Her bright spirit will live on in memories and in her book for a long time.

She was always positive and encouraging to everyone, and she was a joy to know. Her family requests donations be made in her memory to the American Lighthouse Foundation, P.O. Box 889, Wells, ME, 04090.

OUTSIDE LINK: More on life of Connie Small

Conne Small (c) 2005 Jeremy D'Entremont

I've attached a photo taken last month. It was taken during the visit of the Flying Santa by helicopter to Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor. Santa, played by CWO Dave Waldrip of the Coast Guard, gave out presents to the children of Coast Guard families. The man on the left is Bill Wincapaw III, the grandson of the man who started the Flying Santa tradition back in 1929. Connie and Elson Small knew the original Flying Santa well. The Friends of Flying Santa gave Connie a package of goodies during this visit, and a great time was had by all.

Photo and email (c) Jeremy D'Entremont

 

 

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