In most cases the painting and maintenance of a light station was the responsibility of the keeper or keepers who were stationed there.
Such was the case on September 8, 1922, when assistant keeper Frank H. Parsons and a man named Charles Bennett, who was either a hired local painter or a laborer employee of the U. S. Lighthouse Service, had just finished painting the keeper’s house and out-buildings at Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Their final project on that day was the painting of the light tower.
It is not clear why the head keeper, George Edward Bailey, was not involved in the tower painting, though, it was likely due to his age because he was 63 at the time. However, George Edward Bailey was quite familiar with the work that needed to be done at Eastern Point Lighthouse because his father George Gooding Bailey had been the keeper there before him from 1882 to 1892 and had also served at Boston Light before that. Also, since 1900, George Edward Bailey’s son, George William Bailey, who, with his wife, had probably been visiting Eastern Point Light on that day in 1922, but who was absent at the time, had served at a number of other lighthouses, including Eastern Point.
Frank Parsons was fairly new to the U. S. Lighthouse Service, having joined in 1918, with his first assignment being Eastern Point Lighthouse as the assistant keeper. More than likely, this would have been his first experience in painting the tower. Perhaps he should have had more training.
According to a story in the September 8, 1922 edition of the Boston Globe, Parsons and Bennett were hoisting themselves up to the top of the tower with the staging platform. Halfway up, Parsons lost his grip on the rope causing the staging to fall on one side and the 50-year-old assistant keeper plunged to his death on the rocks below the tower.
The newspaper story said, “Bennett held to his side of the rope, and his cries summoned Mrs. George W. Bailey . . . She managed to get the loose rope and release Bennett from his perilous position.”
Assistant lighthouse keeper Frank Herman Parsons was born on January 22, 1872 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. (Some places show his middle name spelled Hermon, but this is incorrect.) On November 20, 1913, at the age of 41, he married 36-year-old Marion Stickney. The couple had no children.
This story appeared in the
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