Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lighthouses on Old Time Radio - The Woman on Lime Rock from The Cavalcade of America (1947)

Here is the third entry in my Lighthouses on Old Time Radio series.  It seems that I am getting these done once a week - when my article (on libraries) is done, I will try to get this done more quickly! The Woman on Lime Rock from the great series The Cavalcade of America is one of three episodes that depict lighthouses.  I will be featuring the other two over the course of this series.

The Cavalcade of America is a great series sponsored by DuPont.  The purpose of the program has been one of great study and I am definitely glad that I have a few episodes to talk about it.  The long-running show ran from 1935 to 1953 and then had a second life on television.  Starting first on the CBS Network, it moved to NBC in 1939.  This 30 minute program provided a great platform to showcase some of the lesser known incidents and people who made the country great.  Not only was this series a great source of historical dramas, there were numerous fictional stories brought in as well.  From the Internet Archive page (see link below),  "The company's motto, 'Maker of better things for better living through chemistry,' was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation."

Absecon Lighthouse (Atlantic City, New Jersey) - August 8, 2014

Absecon Lighthouse (Atlantic City, New Jersey) - August 8, 2014. OK, Not Rhode Island by hundreds of miles, but it is located on Rhode Island Avenue in Atlantic City - That will have to work for now!

Ida Lewis was one of the most famous lighthouse keepers in United States history.  While much of her fame might be attributed to the fact that she was a woman working in a career dominated by men, it was her heroism as a lifesaver at Lime Rock that gave her the greatest notoriety.  She is credited with saving 18 lives directly, and countless more by virtue of keeping the light going.  There are wonderful biographies of Ida Lewis below.  Also, you can get the 2002 book, The keeper of Lime Rock : the remarkable true story of Ida Lewis, America's most celebrated lighthouse keeper by Lenore Skomal (this link will take you to Worldcat to find the book in a library near you).

The account of Ida Lewis' story on Cavalcade stars Shirley Booth, who would later star on the TV show Hazel.  The episode opens with an editor of the New York Herald, Will Carver, dictating an obituary of Ida Lewis to his secretary.  Carver decides that he needs a break and thinks about the woman who had just died.  Not only was she a nationally known figure at her death in October 1911, she was the woman that Carver courted his whole life.  The story starts when they were both about to make their way in the world.  He was heading to New York to become a newspaperman and she was determined to a teacher.  So determined that she turned down Will's hand in marriage.  But when Ida is called from the schoolhouse to see her father, she learned that he had a stroke and would never be able to work the lighthouse again.  Ida immediately pitched in and lit the light that first night and many more afterwards.  She was the assistant keeper while her father lived, but she did all the work. The story continues through her father's death when the decision was made if a woman could be a permanent keeper at a lighthouse, despite the fact that she has essentially been doing the job for years.

As with other episodes from Cavalcade, an entire life is boiled down to a few minutes.  So the authors took liberties, left out characters, and told the story that they wanted to tell.  And while it is a historical drama, it captures some of the drama and difficulty in running a lighthouse in the 19th Century.

Please enjoy this great episode.  This is a real treat and a great way to continue my Lighthouse Old Time Radio series.  I will have another entry in about a week!

The Woman on Lime Rock (January 6, 1947)

Here are some links to programs relating to Old Time Radio and Cavalcade of America:
Lighthouses on Old Time Radio:

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