Seamond Ponsart Roberts
Back in 1939, when the Lighthouse Service was changed over from the Department
of Commerce to the Treasury Department and put under the charge of the U.S.
Coast Guard, the then civilian employee lighthouse keepers were given an
"invite" to become "real" Coast Guardsmen. My lighthouse keeper father,
Octave Ponsart, was very happy with this and could hardly wait to become an
enlisted member of the Coast Guard.
At the time, Mom and Dad were stationed at Dumpling Rock Lighthouse, a
tiny-islanded lighthouse about a mile from shore in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
It was a two-man station and so when Dad received orders for his physical
examination the Coast Guard required at Brighton Marine Hospital, he left the
keeping to his assistant keeper, Henry Fontenot, and rowed ashore in a hurry
to get this physical done and to be inducted into the Coast Guard.
Well, back then, when you got a service physical it was done a little
differently than now. He got signed into the right place at Brighton and they
told him the physical examination would take about 4-5 days; it would be done
a little piece at a time each day. They assigned him a bed and told him the
physical would be in the mornings and after that he was free to do what he
wanted, just be back in the morning for the next section of the examination.
This delayed physical idea did not set well with Dad. He said, "Hey, I've got
a lighthouse I need to get back to," and they just nodded and said, "All in
due time. You want to get into the Coast Guard, don't you?"
He did. So, it went like this. The first day was paperwork and doing vital
signs, weighing, and stuff like that. Then off in the afternoon. The second
day was the top section, say ahh, stick out your tongue, and in the afternoon
on your own. The third day, Dad was told his teeth were too bad for him to
get into the Coast Guard. If he wanted to get in the Coast Guard, they would
have to go. That afternoon instead of "on his own" he was off to the dentist
where they hauled out all his teeth. So, the next day, not being in very good
sorts and all, they did the listen to his chest and all. Dad thought, "Well,
I really want to get into the Coast Guard,so I'll endure . . . "
He figured it would be all over by Friday, but it wasn't. So, there he was
stuck there on the weekend. This was getting very old! Come Monday, he was
ready for the grand finale, but the doctor told him he needed to go back to
see the people at step #1, the paperwork zone and to get re-weighed. Off he
went, only to find out, guess what? They re-measured him and he was ONE INCH
TOO SHORT to get into the Coast Guard.
Well, my normally mild-mannered and even-temperature father was anything but!
After he had recovered from the fact that he missed going into the Coast Guard
by one inch, he said, "HEY, WHAT ABOUT MY FALSE TEETH?"
They said ..................sorry, you didn't qualify to get into the Coast
Guard, so you can't have any.
Dad went back to Dumpling Rock MIGHTLY MAD.
My mother said, "Octave, we will get you your teeth." Dad said, "We can't
afford them. Can you believe this?" Mom said, "Don't worry."
Whereupon Mother wrote her friend, Congressman Charles Gifford from
Dartmouth. He was her friend because he would come out to the lighthouse and
have lobster dinners Mom would cook.
Congressman Gifford said WHOA, this is not right.
Dad got his teeth.
When I was a young girl and Dad would take out his teeth, he would giggle and
tell me, "Yes, Seamond, you see these choppers? Well, I got them by an Act of
Seamond is a frequent contributer sharing many stories with Jack's
Joint about her life and times as a Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter.