Contact Me Here
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    « Wooden Warrior | Main | Bike Path Thugs »

    Hello Cleveland

            In the middle of Buzzard’s Bay, on Cape Cod, there sits the last commissioned light house in New England. Built in 1943, Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse was part of a plan to guide major shipping traffic through the Cape Cod Canal, which opened in 1914.
            The lighthouse houses a very bright rotating white light and a very loud fog horn. Years ago, both these features were necessities if ships were going to navigate the relatively narrow, shallow bay that was often shrouded in fog.
            With the advent of global positioning systems, and changes in maritime technologies and politics, Cleveland Ledge Light House went from being a manned dwelling to an automated one in 1978. Now decommissioned, the light house stands abandoned, like a lonely sentinel. It’s fog horn now rarely heard, as ships count on GPS and other sophisticated technology to navigate their way through the bay.
            But to those of us who grew up on and around Buzzard’s Bay, especially in the North and West Falmouth area, where the light house sits only three miles offshore, and is easily visible from land, Cleveland Ledge Light House represents a part of our history, our heritage, and indeed our folklore.
            As a kid, the ominous foghorn sounded often. It’s low, distinctive wail both scary and comforting. Even though it could only be heard vaguely and softly from land, it’s unmistakable drone was somehow omnipresent. Nothing else sounded remotely like it, and it’s consistency and persistence made it clear that it was not created by a human or an animal. It therefore sounded otherworldly, a constant reminder on dark, foggy nights that something was out there. Something huge and loud. Something in the middle of the ocean, that made this eerie sound, audible for miles away, all by itself. It was the raw material of nightmares.
            I remember what it was like being a boy and approaching the structure by boat; as you got closer, its daunting, looming presence began taking up more and more of not only your physical space, but your psychic space as well. When you you were within a few hundred feet, it’s all you could think about. Almost like it grabbed your mind and took control of it. It was positively mesmerizing. To a kid, this giant monolith in the middle of the ocean seemed somehow alive, like a motionless monster that may just decide to move if you got too close. It’s chipped paint, rusting round lower section, and semi-dilapidated appearance suggested that it could easily be haunted by the ghosts of mariners who long ago perished in these waters before the light house was there to aid them. Seeing it’s hulking mass rise out of the middle of the water, seemingly from nowhere, gave it an ethereal, supernatural aura. Did people actually build this thing, or did it just one day appear mysteriously from the depths? You could never be quite sure. In a word, it was spooky.
            Even today, when I jet ski out to Cleveland Ledge Light House, I can feel the hair on the back of my neck rise and my goose bumps flair. I approach it with the reverence of one worshiping a temple, making sure to never take my eyes off of it. When I’m that close to it, I remember what it felt like to be simultaneously terrified and gleefully awe struck as a boy. The light house is like a piece of giant frozen childhood. It ignites a unique atmospheric sensation that I first experienced when I was a kid. Like a living entity, like a childhood friend, the light house can trigger something inside me that nothing else can. Only when I'm physically close to it, and still somewhat creeped out as an adult, can I bring myself back to that place I left when I grew up.
            I hold Cleveland Ledge Light House as a sort of temple to my childhood. When I’m next to it now, I forgo the logic and reason of adulthood, and instead embrace the wonder, awe, fright, imagination, and mystery of boyhood. I can achieve this state only if I let go, allow the power of the light house to once again overwhelm me, and just go along for the ride.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a massive, monolithic light house full of Wrongs) Reserved

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>