Dr. Stanley Spence, Pastor First Baptist Church, Lincolnton, N.C.
On a recent trip, my wife and I visited the Currituck Lighthouse. Six miles south of that location was a Coast Guard Life Saving Station called Poyners Hill. In 1901, John Wescott, Keeper of the Station recorded this entry.
1901 Annual Report of the Life-Saving Service had the following entry:
"Letter from John Wescott, keeper of Poyners Hill Life-Saving Station, relating to his cartouch box and submitting a sample." Poplar Branch, NC
Dear St. Nicholas: I am a little girl twelve years old, and I live on one of the sand-bars of North Carolina, five miles from the mainland. The nearest store and post office is five miles away. My papa is the captain of the Poyners Hill Life-saving Station. We are bounded on the north and south by sandhills, on the east by the ocean, and on the west by the Currituck Sound. The land near and on which the station is situated belongs to the Currituck Shooting Club. The club house is the nearest one to us except the station. The club does not allow any of the station men except papa to build on the beach. We live only a few steps from the station and a little further from the sea, while the clubhouse is on the other side of the beach. So you see, we have it lonely here sometimes. Enclosed find my contribution which I hope is worthy of a prize. --- Yours truly, Mary Yeula Wescott (age 12)
In a book entitled St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Book for Young Folks by Mary Mapes Dodge, the letter was published in January 1903. This letter shows the difference in the way folks thought at the beginning of the 1900s. This little girl, lonely on the outer banks of North Carolina, when the only transportation to get there was by boat, was more motivated to give a gift at Christmas than just to receive one. My, how times have changed. (It turns out she was my grandmother’s sister.)
The isolation of the early 20th century was greater than the isolation of the COVID-19 isolations. Today we are less prepared for this much time thinking and reflecting. Still, in this situation, caring for others is the way to go. Little Miss Mary grew up to be the librarian at Duke University. I hope, when history looks back on our church fellowship during this isolation they will discover that we, too, were motivated to care about one another. Some things of the past are worth holding onto in modern times.
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