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'My happy day was when I met Allison, my Prince Charming'
by Valerie Evans

    Betty Stuart was born on May 9, 1935 and lived at the Protestant Orphanage in Saint John until she was five years old. At that time, she was adopted by Hazen and Marjorie (Madge) (Norton) Holmes. Hazen was a light keeper and Madge had been the principal of Eastport School. Betty went to live with them at the light at Sou'west Wolves. She is married to Allison Stuart, who was also a lighthouse keeper. Now that he has retired, the two of them go motorcycling from their home in Saint John.

    One of my earliest memories is of Daddy's little red dog when they first took me home. After we landed on the Wolves, I was running around my new mother's skirt, screaming, with the dog chasing me. I was terrified of him because I had never seen a dog before.

    There was a striped tiger cat at the orphanage. Its name was Billy Buster, and after my mother adopted me, they got me a kitten because I missed Billy Buster. The only time the cat was allowed at the table with me was when I had spinach. We both loved it so my mother would allow him up to eat spinach with me.

    My mother home taught me at the light. She had a little make-believe pupil there too, his name was Johnny, he was invisible. If I didn't make good marks on my lessons, she would say, "Johnny made 100 and look at what you did Betty." I didn't like Johnny too good, because he was smarter than I was.

    My mother was awful good to me. We would celebrate every special day. When I was nine she took cancer of the breast and we had to move to Drew's Head light at Beaver Harbour. I had my 10th birthday and she died.

    After she died, that was the hardest time of my life because we had different housekeepers and different people coming and I just missed my mother so bad. My father got married again but she didn't want me. She asked Daddy to put me back in the orphanage again and at that time, I kind of hoped he would.

    I worked in the filleting plant at Beaver Harbour for awhile. I was fired quite a few times because I had asthma. I needed the money so I would go back again and he would fire me again. I did enjoy it except for the breathing bit.

    I had come out in church in Beaver Harbour but I didn't really live it. At Pea Point, the Lord touched my heart and that time it was for good. I write country gospel songs and one song I wrote called Being Born Again - Adoption; tells it better than I can.

    My parents came for me at the orphanage where I was staying, lonesome as could be.

    They adopted me into their home, made me one of their own, on a far off island where the lighthouse shone.

    I was adopted once I have been adopted again.

    I was born once, I have been born again. Being born once can't save your soul,

    You have to be born twice to make you whole but I was sinful, sinful as could be;

    I wasn't ready for eternity, then Jesus came - revealed his life to me.

    He came into my heart and set me free.

    Since Jesus saved me, I have peace within.

    I know that his adoption will never end.

    He is my lighthouse shining for me to guide my life through eternity.

    My happy day was when I met Allison, my Prince Charming. It was love at first sight and we have been happily married ever after. I thought I was in heaven when we got to Pea Point.

    I would go beachcombing for shells and beach glass. I became quite a birdwatcher. We would see little grebs and the sea ducks (common eider duck) and the shags (cormorants); sea pigeon which is the name for Guillemont; I loved them. Two artists came one day and they got me into painting. I did one of Gannet Rock.

    Women weren't usually allowed on Gannet but Allison's second keeper couldn't get back.

    I got this phone call asking if I would like to go on Gannet Rock with Allison for a month. I said 'would I ever,' so I packed all these little white suitcases (plastic bags) and crammed all the food into them that I could.

    When I got there, it was the bird migrating season - and we had a lot of different birds - all these little warblers would come and when they hit the beam from the light house it would blind them and they would hit the tower.

    I would be out there picking these little birds up off the deck in the middle of the night. I had a clothesline in the kitchen and it would be right full of them.

    The best times in my life were my years on the lighthouses - they were marvelous. I love it here but it is not the same.

SOURCE: New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, NB) (March 14, 2002).