A Happy New Year Day
Words from the past can often find relevance in the presence – even when the circumstances have no direct connection. In a letter from the keepers of Matinicus Rock Light Station written ninety-two years ago and published in the Rockland Courier-Gazette on January 10, 1929, we are able to sift through the sentiments expressed and glean an understanding that as much as things change over time, they remain the same.
It is apparent from the letter’s outset that the keepers and their families living on far-flung Matinicus Rock were extremely grateful for the little things in life on New Year’s Day 1929 – none more important than having a connection with others on nearby Matinicus Island and the mainland, which was over twenty miles distant. Whether this social connection was realized through the mail or via phone, being able to interact with extended family and friends was a precious gift in their lives.
Ninety-two years later on New Year’s Day 2021, it is equally as important for all of us to be able to connect with others around us despite the presence of the public health emergency that has challenged this concept in ways not previously imagined. Even if it is less than ideal, let us take joy in our ability to interact with family and friends in the same manner those on Matinicus Rock did nearly a century ago – being grateful for the little things that can make a big difference in our lives!
The letter is below…
“January 1, 1929 turned out to be the happiest New Year Day we have ever known on the Rock. Just at sunrise our boat was made ready for a trip after mail and supplies – the first time in a week.
“And by the way, all the time you folks inshore were enjoying fine weather we were listening to howling winds and rough sea. About an hour after our boat sailed the boys spied two steamers coming out from way inshore. They came nearer and nearer, and finally one headed for the Rock – steamer Pequot.
“Possible this means little to our readers, but let us tell you it means much to us. Our cable had parted and here was the cable boat and at six p.m. we were able once again to talk inshore.
“Dinner was served at the home of Mr. F. O. Hilt (head keeper) by Mrs. Hilt and Mrs. Austin B. Beal. We were joined in the celebration by A.J. Beal and Mrs. Beal.
“If ever happiness reigned supreme it was on Matinicus Rock that day – mail day, big eat, everyone at their post, and best of all, the phone!
“If we were tired at the close of this first day in the New Year we certainly felt like shouting our joy to all the world.”