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Topic: light (05/24/04)
TITLE: A Lighthouse = Saved Lives
By Linda Miller
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A short time later the bell from the Sturgeon Point Lifesaving Station began to ring. She turned as the door suddenly slammed shut behind her swift moving husband. “Sorry honey, something is on fire out on the lake. John wants us to check it out. We will celebrate your birthday when this is taken care of.” He was ranked the #2 man of the eight man crew. He had been member of this crew for a year now and felt the responsibility upon his shoulders. “Oh darling, please be careful and Godspeed” Mary said as they hurriedly kissed each other. He was out the door running for the shoreline and the waiting surfboat. As she stoked the pot-bellied stove to start the stew she began to pray for the safety of the crew and those needing their services.
Mary carried her steaming bucket of stew to the Station. Many of the neighbors were already setting out food and making preparations for what might be a long day. “They think it might be the “Marine City,” since it left here early this morning with a cargo of shingles” Joanna Mayfield shared with them. “We all know how much of a tinderbox that can be if sparks were to fly.” Eyes bright, she talked rapidly, “It was headed for Detroit and must have caught fire somehow.” She turned her head as tears fell. Mary put her arms around her to comfort her knowing this was her husbands’ first rescue trip with the crew. Even though she was proud of Rand and the others for risking their lives she still had to squelch the fear that squeezed her heart every time they went out on a rescue attempt. She knew, all too well, that some might not be coming back to land.
Rand, wet and weary, pulled the last sodden victim into the surfboat. He drew every inch of his powerful, solidly built six foot frame into submission against the harsh realities of the rescue. The cold waters of Lake Huron left his hands numb. It was hard work and the crew knew they needed to work fast even on such a warm August day. The water in Lake Huron was hardly ever warm enough to swim for long periods of time. He had been relieved to see two tugboats helping them when they had arrived at the steamer. His eyes burned and he was covered with black flecks from the soot and black smoke pouring from the vessel. He prayed as he worked; his words keeping cadence with his hands.
The crew rowed the surfboat to the pier in front of the Station. When they neared the shoreline they jumped out to steady it. Even though the waves weren’t heavy there was enough surf to make the boat unsteady. The Alcona neighbors all came to help the victims, bringing quilts and blankets from their own beds to put around their shoulders. They had hot food ready and waiting for those who were rescued by the crew.
Rand told Mary later that night, while they were eating her birthday cake, that with the help of the two tugboats they had saved most of the 121 passengers and crew. Unfortunately twenty lives were lost in the tragedy but they both knew it could have been much worse. God had used John and his beautiful lighthouse, once again, to rescue and save lives.