Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lighthouses on Old Time Radio - Look What We Found - A Lighthouse Keeper (Split Rock)

For my 16th entry in my lighthouses on old time radio series, I will feature an episode of "Look What We Found" - a series from the Minnesota School of the Air.  This is a great interview, we learn more about one of the most beautiful lights that protects ships in the Great Lakes.  The Split Rock Lighthouse that sits high on a bluff over Lake Superior, just north of Duluth.

I am going to take a break from these episodes next month, while I focus on entries from a new series that will celebrate the radio contributions of African Americans in celebration of National African American History Month.  After that, I want to return to my series of baseball on old time radio and even feature a brief series on Alexander Hamilton!

Cross Stitch Split Rock Lighthouse - Completed by the author around 10 years ago

The Minnesota School of the Air was one of the longest running schools in the United States.  (For a great overview of these educations radio programs, check out William Bianchi's Schools of the air : a history of instructional programs on radio in the United States (2008). The program started at the University of Minnesota in the late 1930s.  The goal of these programs was to supplement the education students were receiving in the classroom.  These were broadcast over air from the stations at the University of Minnesota.  From 1949 to 1950, the show Look What We Found was broadcast on Tuesday morning at 11am with an audience expected to be grades 4th through 8th.  While we do not know when this episode aired, it likely came over this time period.

The episode of Look What We Found that I am focusing on today features Robert E. Bennetts and is called "A Lighthouse Keeper."  Bennetts was the last civilian keeper of Split Rock from August 13, 1947 through 1961. Split Rock is a stunning lighthouse that sits high above the waters of Lake Superior.

The lighthouse was built in 1910 and serves as a protector of the shipping lanes that head to and from the great inland port of Duluth.  This 15 minute episode is really quite nice to hear the voice of a lighthouse keeper.  He is interviewed and asked questions about the lighthouse service and the history of Split Rock.  What was most interesting are the personal questions asked to Mr. Bennetts.  He had been a keeper for 26 years for the Coast Guard and he actually grew up in a lighthouse family, so his experience goes much longer than that.  He also talked about the duties that are required like repairing equipment and cooking.  One other interested element was him talking about the tourists that come to the lighthouse in the 1940s.  There is another entry that I will showcase when I come back to this series that features a keeper in his own words.  I hope you enjoy this and my next series.

Here are some links to programs relating to Old Time Radio and Minnesota School of the Air:
Lighthouses on Old Time Radio:

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