Now, in all fairness, there are many other beautiful lighthouses on the Banks, including Cape Hatteras Light, the best known facility standing in the area on Hatteras Island to the south. She is about thirty feet taller than Bodie Island's 210, yet the smaller station has such a unique place in my heart. It is because Bodie Island has a special connection for me. It was here that my maternal great-grandfather, Peter Gregory Gallop, served as the longest standing lighthouse keeper of Bodie Island from 1878 to 1906. Over this twenty eight years of service modern developments made for more efficient operations and a higher degree of reliability in the changing and difficult weather conditions that are common here. And through it all, Keeper Peter spent many lonely days and nights insuring that mariners worried about the nearby shoals could rely on the steady light of the old lighthouse to guide their way. Those shoals represent an extension of those on Diamond Shoals off Hatteras, where many ships ran aground in times of storms and often captains might let their guard down upon successful passage. At the time they often didn't realize that the shoals extended for many miles both north and south. This is why, in addition to Hatteras Light, Bodie Island Light to the north and Cape Lookout Light to the south, provided guidance to guide mariners along the way.
I was blessed to have one of Keeper Peter's five daughters as my grandmother. Grandma Martha was spry, clear of thought and, with a twinkle in her eyes, told me grand stories about spending time on the island on occasion to keep her father company. She and other siblings or, perhaps with a friend, would fish and swim on the wide open and clean, uncluttered beach while her father, during off duty time on a warm day, watched over them. He enjoyed having them with him, catching abundant fish for supper with cornbread and just talking or playing a board game after dark. They loved time on the wide open beach and even climbed the lighthouse steps for a beautiful view of the surf and sand and the majesty which the elements of nature provide from such a wondrous spot. And sometimes he Keeper Peter would allow them to even help with the light's operational chores, but never with the cleaning of the Fresnel lens. Only the Keeper would do that and inspect his own work with a white glove, maintaining the perfect condition for the best visible light system of its time. And Grandma's recollection brought it all to life for me so that when I visited the old lighthouse, I could visualize just they way it must have been. Both my great-grandfather and my grandma are, of course, no longer with us, but I am thankful for the memories and I hope the Spirit of Bodie Island lives on with me and it has positively impacted my heart. Should any of my readers visit the lighthouse, I hope you, too might be able to visualize it better from these words. She's a great example of maritime Americana at its best. Just another example of how God has truly blessed America and why we should always make sure that He always finds us worthy in the future. Let's work to keep it that way and remember our storied past as it really was, not as someone else wishes it to be.