As the fog rolls gently over Vineyard Sound and engulfs the shore, the beckoning sound of the foghorn at Nobska begins to blow. It’s funny; whenever Nobska is brought up, people always have an intimate and special story to tell about it. Nobska is much more than a lighthouse; to so many it is a safe haven, a beacon of light, and a constant friend in our ever-changing lives.
Last week my stepson, his girlfriend and her family from New York came to visit. No sooner had they pulled into our driveway and unloaded their bags, then he loaded everyone back in the car and said, “Come on. I am taking you to an incredible place: Nobska!”
In 1828 for the sum of $2,949, the original Nobsque Point Lighthouse was built on a beautiful piece of land that juts out into Vineyard Sound, high upon a bluff near the opening of Woods Hole harbor with views of the Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. A simple shingled structure housed the lighthouse. It had an octagonal tower and lantern rising from the roof.
Thousands of vessels passed by Nobsque Point, as it was called at that time—schooners, sloops and steamers. Think how beautiful it must have been with these majestic boats under full sail! Over the years the lighthouse has gone through a number of updates and continued renovations.
I met with Barbara Meissner, board member of Friends of Nobska Light, at her home. As I always say, “Nothing is by chance.” Barbara and her husband, Mike, had bought my grandmother’s home, the house where I spent all of my childhood summers. They restored this 1870s Victorian meticulously.
As I sat in the living room, my mind was flooded with memories of all of those long-ago summers. I could almost smell my grandmother’s blueberry pie baking in the oven, as we kids ran wild after a day at the beach...hearing the screen door slam and my mom telling us to wash our feet, so as to not track sand all over grandma’s house!
Barbara took me for a tour and as different as it looked, in my mind’s eye it still looked the same. As I stood in what was once was my bedroom, I distinctly remembered lying in my bed and hearing all of the adults downstairs laughing and talking. I thought this was the last year I would be a single digit. Next summer I would be a double digit, 10! As I lay there deep in thought experiencing childhood angst about growing up, I remembered hearing the foghorn, quelling my fears as it lulled me to sleep.
Barbara began telling me all the stories that people had told her about Nobska. She said, “People seem to attribute deep emotions, almost human characteristics to it!”
Think of all the millions of pictures from all over the world of people standing in front of this lighthouse. Nobska shares in so many of our milestones: engagements, weddings, family portraits that capture us happy, tan and smiling.
We are brought there as babies and toddlers. We then bring our own children, and as the years go by, new generations share the love and begin to write their own histories with the lighthouse,
Above Vineyard Sound on the bluff in front of Nobska there sits a bench and a plaque on a rock that reads, “...we love our gorgeous goddess/with her dreamy red hair/sweetly together with cool boy/in a delirious symphony of love/their diamond moment by the sea/Inspired by the wedding of Neilie & Mike/September 21, 1996...” Neilie and Mike were engaged at Nobska and had their wedding pictures taken there. Tragically, Neilie was killed on 9/11 at 8:46 AM on American Airlines Flight 11-WTC.
This area in front of their beloved Nobska is now Neilie Anne Heffernan Casey’s memorial. Nobska, a safe haven for ships at sea and those on land...
Friends of Nobska Light, a local nonprofit, has taken over from the Coast Guard the responsibility of operating and maintaining Nobska Light.
A very special thank-you to all these people who have helped to make this a reality.
To contact and donate to this amazing cause, go to friendsofknobska.org.
Nancy August is a lifelong summer resident of Falmouth as were her parents and grandparents. Her production company is Summer Girl Media and her interior design firm is Nancy August Interiors. Visit her website www.nancyaugustinteriors.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/nancyaugustinteriors for consultations.