Realizing how much the token gifts meant to the families, each year Wincapaw expanded his project. The Santa of the Lighthouses became a real life legend. A few years after he started he needed help...His son and another pilot Edward Snow started helping. The rest as they say, "Is History" Over the years the Flying Santa became part of the long, historic tradition of New England Lighthouses... There are many, many stories, I've posted parts of couple, ..
"LIFE ON BOON ISLAND" by Mariam (Dolby) Hammel tells the story of her life as a nineteen year wife of a Coast Guard Lighthouse Keeper stationed for a year on that chunk of rock pictured below, here are a couple excerpts:
///One day there was a terrible storm so terrible that we went to the top of the lighthouse and sat with our heads almost in our laps so we wouldn’t hear the storm. You can imagine my daughter between my legs, crying ... the dog trying to climb into me (she was so scared) me sitting on the floor by the light, my husband trying to calm me and Jack and Margie also trying to keep calm. It lasted about an hour.\\\
///"At Christmas time a plane flew over the island and a large package was dropped to us. In the package were cigarettes, candy, cookies and a baby doll for my daughter. I never found out who Santa Claus was, but I have never forgotten" \\\
Can you imagine trying to keep up with a curious almost two year old on that island? For someone stationed on an outpost like that, it wouldn't take much to make a difference, remember trips to the store were few and far between, especially in the winter. While we wonder what to buy at the Mall, cigarettes, candy and cookies were enough to make a difference in their lives.
Seamond Ponsart Roberts stories about The Flying light House Santa are a little different, they start when she was a five yoar old on Cuttyhunk Island at the end of WWII. As you'll see shortly, that's not were they end This is an exceprt from her story Santa and the Elf
When the plane came over and circled we were ready. We had a dory ready for the ocean and a second one for the pond (in case the bombardier was “off target” and we would have to fish the packages out of the water). Three packages fell!! One did make the pond and dad had to row out and get it. No problem though. Santa had the packages heavily wrapped. Two packages made the ground - one hit a huge boulder that was part of the Cuttyhunk Island landscape. We all rushed to the house with excitement to open our packages. Mr. Snow always included wonderful things in his packages including books, magazines, candy, little odds and ends and always one of his new books. However, I knew that this year in one of those packages would be my brand new doll!! After all, he did promise mother. There it was in the last package. Unfortunately, this was the package that hit the boulder and my doll was smashed into pieces!! I could not believe it. My doll, that I had waited so long for. The one Santa had promised me and it was broken.Well if you clicked the link and read Seamond Roberts story story you'll know why it didn't end when then. if you didn't read the link you missed a good story, but I'll tell you part of it.
I was inconsolable, and as mother put it in the next letter she sent to the Flying Santa, I cried myself to sleep that night. Well, my father patched up the doll as best he could (after all, daddy being a lighthouse keeper he could fix anything!) This became my play-sick doll, complete with Band-Aids and slings Still, I was so disappointed. That year, the disappointment over the doll was not anywhere near as bad as finding out our lighthouse had been condemned and would be torn down. My family ended up being the last family to live there. We were transferred to West Chop Lighthouse the following year.
Flying Santa had received the letter explaining of this little girl’s broken heart. He could not bear to have this little girl so broken hearted. So the next Christmas, he chartered a helicopter and landed on Martha’s Vineyard to pay a personal visit to me. He landed at the Gay Head Lifesaving Station and there, like a fairy tale, I had Santa Claus hand me a doll to replace the broken one. It was so touching, nearly everyone was in tears. Did I ever have a big hug for this hero of mine.
In 2003, Seamond Ponsart Roberts was invited to go along on the Massachusetts Christmas flight as Santa's Elf. When she got the invitation, fifty-seven years after Edward Rowe Snow visited her by helicopter, Seamond was able to experience her own flight with Flying Santa. She returned to her childhood home at West Chop Light, accompanying Santa Tom Guthlein as he brought new memories to the Coast Guard children living at the light.
Today the tradition continues, this year marks the Eighty first Anniversary of he Flying Lighthouse Santa.. The old single engine planes have been replaced with helicopters, fully equipped with GPS, radar and radios. The Coast Guard has taken over the deliveries, The presents have changed with the times and focus more on the kids, no longer on the adult luxuries of cigarettes, sewing materials and magazines.. The New England weather hasn't changed, neither have the kids.. Fot the next few days they'll be waiting and wondering if Santa will really fly in and bring them that................................................?????
Friends of the Flying Santa
The Origins and Histories of the Flying Santa
Guess if you're a Santa you can just drop in and know you'll be welcome. Brian Tague of Friends of the Flying Santa, the organization that keeps Captain Wincapaw and Edward Snow's program going after all these years dropped by..and left a comment. as you'll see, he corrected a mistake I'd made and wanted to make sure you knew there was more to see on the Friends of the Flying Santa Website, here's what Santa... ah hmm, Brian had to say..
Just wanted to let you know that the Flying Santa flights are not run by the USCG. They are the mission of Friends of Flying Santa - a non-profit volunteer organization based in Massachusetts. Our flights are carried out each year as a gesture of thanks to the USCG crews and families. Our helicopter "sleighs" are donated by Evan Wile, JBI Helicopters and Granite State Aviation. We just finished up our last flight of the season, delivering toys to over 600 Coast Guard children. More info and photos can be found at http://www.flyingsanta.org/. Merry Christmas!
Friends of Flying SantaSince Brian was kind enough to drop by, I figure the least we can do is pay him a return visit, so you can click on his link or just click here, Friends of the Flying Santa
And once again, I'd like to thank Brian for stopping by...