August 25, 2005
Brookfield-- You won't have a hard time finding Carolyn Harvey's home in the Brookfield community east of Tifton. Just look for the lighthouses.
You can't miss them. One four-and a-half feet tall sits in the front yard. Her recreational vehicle has them painted on the sides. The backdoor step has one made of tile.
"It's probably strange for somebody as far inland to have a passion for light houses," says Carolyn Harvey, a avid collector, even though she lives about 150 miles from a real lighthouse.
"I've probably been collecting them seriously for 20 years," says Harvey, remembering when she finished school in Daytona, Florida. She would often see the lighthouse at Ponce Inlet. One day she visited it and from that moment on, her interest grew.
Every corner of her house seems to have something lighthouse related. The tables hold models, and the hallway wall where you'd expect to see family pictures, holds pictures of lighthouses. She made a stained glass bathroom window of her favorites. "I probably have 45 to 50 hours in it," says Harvey with a quick laugh.
She visits as many of the real ones as she can, even the old Mackinac light house in Mackinac, Michigan and those on the eastern seaboard. She'd like to visit everyone in the country. "I actually get down on my knees and beg to see inside one. In fact, I've done that before," says Harvey.
She's done research on every one she can find. The Saint Augustine lighthouse impressed her. "It has beautiful Victorian staircase," says Harvey.
She doesn't call herself an expert, but a few minutes with her and you realize she is, even to the point of knowing the various lenses that focus the light. If the opportunity presents itself, she wants her husband, Joe, to join her and live the life of lighthouse keepers.
He doesn't seem to mind. Joe came up with lighthouse museum description for their home. "Just for six weeks, one time," says Harvey. During that time, they would get about six hours off a week, but she doesn't care at all. She'd welcome sharing her love for lighthouses with anyone interested. "A lighthouse keeps sailors from danger, to navigate from danger out there. The light is a comforting thing to see," says Harvey.
She has 43 lighthouses and a sense of humor. "Ever since we've had these light houses, not one ship has come into our house," says Harvey with a laugh. Her lighthouses need maintaining much like the real ones. "About twice a year they have to have a new bulb put in," says Harvey, as she stands on the sofa and changes a bulb.
While most people see their colorful paint schemes, North Carolina's, for example, uses black and white, Carolyn sees more than that. "They have their different personality," says Harvey.
A lighthouse with personality? "It does. Tall and straight," says Harvey as she points to her model of the one at Sanibel Island, Florida, with its pipes and rods exposed. It looks as if it's picking a fight with a storm.
If so, Carolyn would bet on the lighthouse winning. "In all those hurricanes, how many have you heard of toppling?" asks Harvey. Have you heard of anyone that's easier to buy a gift for? Just get her something lighthouse related and she's happy. "I just as happy with the first gift I got as I am with the last one I received," says Harvey.
She has no intention of stopping her collecting anytime soon. Harvey wants a model of a light ship to display with her lighthouses, and you can bet she'll have one soon.