In 2012 Larry started volunteering at the visitor center in West Quoddy Head Lighthouse near Lubec, Maine, the easternmost town in the US. Lubec is his wife’s hometown and where they have their summer home.
The non-profit Visitor’s Center is managed by the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse Keepers Association and is run largely by volunteers. It occupies the entire ground floor of the former lightkeeper’s house. Along with information about the local area, current and former lifestyles, and historic exhibits about the lighthouse and surrounding area, there are unique art works by Maine artists for sale.
Two years ago, Larry became the assistant manager. He explains, “There are other volunteers who sometimes work with me but only the manager or myself can work alone to open or close, and I work alone quite often. I usually put in about 22 hours a week. In addition to opening and closing the visitor center, which is open to the public from Memorial Day till October 15, I work the front desk, greet and provide information to visitors, sell limited merchandise and art, and, along with the park ranger, conduct tours up the tower on Saturday afternoons. The number of visitors we have increases every year with over 30,000 signing our guest log this past year coming from all 50 states,
8 Canadian provinces, and over 50 foreign countries. More than double that amount of people visit the lighthouse for photos or to hike the local trails but do not come into the visitor center to sign in.”
The following information is taken from the web site https://westquoddy.com/the-lighthouse, as modified by Larry Conrad.
Originally built in 1808, by order of President Thomas Jefferson, the original wooden tower was replaced in 1837 with a rubble-stone tower and then by the current brick tower which became operational in 1858. The red and white tower is the only “candy striped” tower in the United States. The Tower is 49 feet tall, with a 16 foot diameter base. The center of the lantern stands 83 feet above sea level. The 1000 watt bulb is filtered through a 5.5 foot tall third-order Fresnel lens from Paris, France, which along with the 50 step circular iron staircase to the top of the tower was installed in 1857. The light was fully automated in 1988 and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard today. Previously the lamp was illuminated with sperm whale oil, lard oil and finally kerosene and electricity in 1932. The light flashes in a pattern 24 hours a day. 2 seconds on, 2 off, 2 on, and 9 seconds off. Although there are strong storms that rage along this rustic Bay of Fundy coastline, the lighthouse has withstood them all for over a century and a half. In 2004 the copper dome was replaced due to hail pocking. 8 red stripes alternate with 7 white stripes on the tower. The strips are about 25 inches wide each. The visitor’s center currently occupies the ground floor of the lightkeeper’s house where many generations of lightkeepers lived with their families. With full automation of the light there is no longer a lightkeeper in residence, although the park ranger and his family occupy the apartment on the second floor of the house.
The shore is very rocky. On a clear day the light reaches 19 to 21 miles to sea. This protects the lobster fishermen who bring their catch to the inland harbor of Lubec or Eastport, Maine. Several larger ships come by each week to load primarily wood pulp for China or India. Since most ships now have GPS, and most of the ship traffic is local, reliance on the light is not so critical as it used to be.
The lighthouse is part of Quoddy Head State Park, which maintains the buildings. Located on the southern part of the Bay of Fundy, the tides here are only 15’ to 17’ high. Further north, in Canada, the world’s highest tides can reach 50 feet. The ships travel through the 9 mile wide channel north of the lighthouse and south of the Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada.
Before becoming a light house volunteer, Larry worked for the Department of Defense. “I retired in 2008 after working 39 years for the Department of Defense, the last 13 years as the first director of a new 600-person DoD finance and accounting center in Limestone, Maine.
“My wife is Rev. Lynne Josselyn, whom I met in church in Caribou, Maine, when I moved there from Germany in 1995. We were married in 2001. I have 3 sons and 5 grandsons, all of whom live in the Denver, Colorado, area.”
“We moved to Tanglewood in January 2009. We are Florida residents who live in Maine from May through October.
“I play golf, I do the morning exercise class at the clubhouse on days I don’t golf, I ride in the afternoon bike group that rides throughout Tanglewood, work on the Country Breakfast and Special Meals committees, and volunteer for the cultural arts program at South Florida State College working around 20 shows a season.
“I write poetry and have published a book of my poems in 2016 with quite a few more written since then. The book is called ‘Musings of a Waterside Poet’. I self-published it just for family and friends but a copy is in the Lubec library. I also play drums in the worship band for the casual service at our church here in Sebring, and I’m a die-hard Denver Broncos fan and season ticket holder, as well as a big fan of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.
“I also love to volunteer. This is the most enjoyable thing I do in the summer – certainly more enjoyable than my golf game! I love meeting people from all over, finding places or things we have in common, and working at a beautiful location on the Bay of Fundy.”
“If you want to move to Lubec, Maine, you too can become a volunteer at the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. But if you live near another lighthouse then you can inquire about being a volunteer there. Most such places are always in need of volunteers or docents. All it takes are a pleasant personality, an interest in meeting and speaking with people, a good sense of humor, and some knowledge of the location where you are a volunteer.”
You may contact Larry by phoning 863-471-6314, writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting him at 3637 Broken Arrow in Sebring, Florida.