My mother recently produced an interesting old photograph. It’s a small picture of five children standing along a rocky path leading down to a lighthouse. I was able to scan and enlarge it. Click on the photo to see a larger version.
My mother believes this was taken at the Makapuu Lighthouse sometime around 1929. Her uncle (her mother’s half-brother), Alexander Toomey, had been an assistant lighthouse keeper at Makapuu. He was badly burned in an explosion and fire at the lighthouse on April 9, 1925, and died of his injuries.
Enlarging the photo again, you’re able to see the children a little better. My mother is the girl in the middle. On her right (to the left of the photo) is her older sister, Marguerite, standing behind her younger brother, Jimmy.
If this were taken in 1929, my mother would have been about 15 years old, Marguerite a couple of years older, and Jimmy would have been about 8.
My mother thinks the other two girls may be Alexander’s daughters, Julia and Flora. I don’t’ have the information about their birth dates, etc., to assess that. Alexander had two other daughters, Violet and Minnie, who I believe were younger. But I’ll have to defer to my sister and others who keep track of the genealogical details.
Here’s a description of the accident that took Alexander Toomey’s life from LighthouseFriends.com:
The explosion blew the bottom out of the cylindrical tank. The second assistant keeper, John Kaohimaunu, was near the door and escaped with burns. The clothes of the first assistant, Alexander Toomey, caught fire, and the accident left him “charred black and crinkled.” Toomey was transported to a hospital where he passed away at noon the following day. Before leaving the station, forty-year-old Toomey called his expectant wife and children to him, repeated the Lord’s Prayer, and told his wife, “Stand by the light and keep it burning.” Toomey, who had just been recommended for promotion to principal keeper at Kilauea Point Lighthouse, refused to let his wife accompany him to the hospital, as the station would have been without a keeper while Keeper Akana took his two assistants to the hospital.
Reverend Akana, of Kawaiahao Church, Honolulu used the words “Stand by the light and keep it burning,” as the text for an eloquent sermon delivered at Toomey’s funeral on April 11. It wasn’t long before Toomey’s wife gave birth to a baby daughter, and then, three months after the accident, she died of a broken heart.