Kerosene and Corn Brooms

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Postby island » Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:30 am

The Lighthouse Board published and issued the List of Allowance to Light Stations and Light Vessels, which described in detail all the various supplies and quantity of each for light staions and light vessels. The quantity and amount of each item to be issued depended on the size classification of the light station. There was practically nothing that was not contained on this list from lamp chimneys and kerosene to pencils and paper clips.

This publication also contained rules. Quantities and articles on hand will be deducted from the annual allowance. Prior deliveries must be accounted for including worn out and condemned articles also accounted for or given to the master of the supply vessel before new ones can be issued. This included things like worn out paint brushes and even empty paint cans.

One item on the allowance list was corn brooms; six for first and second order stations, four for third and forth order, three for fifth and sixth. A steam whistle station got two additional brooms. There was nothing mentioned about additional brooms for twin tower stations. But for some reason light vessels got fourteen brooms which hardly seems fair because the decks could be easily hosed down.

For safety matches, forty boxes were allocated per household and thirty-six boxes per light regardless of order. However, light vessels were issued 108 boxes for each lantern but then it often was quite windy up there on the masts where the lantern were located so they would have consumed more matches attempting to light the lamps. If light stations or the light vessel ran out it appears they and any mariners in the area were in serious trouble because rules clearly stated that no other matches than those supplied by the Lighthouse Service were permitted under any circumstance.

One might wonder who it was who sat bent over some desk in a tiny dim-lit office in Washington DC making all these highly significant and vital allowance decisions for corn brooms, matches, pencils, etc.

The rules and procedures for allowances leads to the following scenario. Suppose the lightkeeper is down to his last corn broom. It is worn but not enough to exchange without resistance by the supply vessel master. It was not unusual to "expend" items just prior to re-supply in order to obtain new replacements. So when the keeper saw the supply vessel, the tender approaching in the distance he pounds the heck out of the working end of his only remaining broom and in the process breaks the handle. The broom has now been expended. It is completely useless.

Later, however, after his annual supplies have been unloaded and Form 30, Receipt of Materials has been prepared and is ready for his signature, he notices the space for corn brooms on this form is blank. He asks the first mate of the tender why no brooms were listed. The mate informs him the deport was completely out of new brooms and would not have any for at least another two months. To make matters worse the annual inspection was anticipated to happen before the end of this month. As the tender leaves the harbor the keeper is standing alone in his boathouse looking down at the sad remains of this expended but necessary implement and wondering just how the heck he can glue or splice this darned old broom back together.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:31 pm

Fun anecdote :D
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