Wild Goose Chase
Every lighthouse has a story. Some have a million of 'em.
Take West Chop Lighthouse on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, for instance.
Octave Ponsart was the keeper at West Chop from 1946-1957. Also with Ponsart was his family, wife Emma and daughters Bette and Seamond.
The following story is from an article written by Seamond (Ponsart) Roberts on the website jacksjoint.com. (jacksjoint.com is a website dedicated to U. S. Coast Guard history recounted by those who lived it.)
THE SAGA OF THE WEST CHOP WILD GOOSE CHASE
By Seamond (Ponsart) Roberts
I was the lighthouse keeper's daughter on West Chop Lighthouse from 1946-1957, where my dad, Octave Ponsart, was the head keeper. Located on Martha's Vineyard Island in Massachusetts, this was a prime tourist spot in the summer, but in the winter all by itself in the middle of a summer' person's colony area, it got kind of lonely and isolated too.
We had animals to kind of fill in the social gaps this creates. Oh, I had, dogs, cats, chickens -- lots of them -- but one time we had the opportunity to acquire two geese and we thought this would be a welcome addition to our little menagerie and give us some additional amusement too. Well, Lucy and Goosey were big white geese and turned out to be very bossy and "argued" so much between themselves and chased anyone who showed up around the lighthouse that they were really the winged pariahs of the station.
We had them for about three years and I must admit they chased off most of the summer tourists quite well.
Each fall they would honk at their wild cousin buddies and flap their wings and threaten flight. Dad would clip back their wings and the most flight they would achieve was a sideways airborneness of about five feet in the air, come crashing to the ground, and then go off honking and complaining.
After their many unsuccessful attempts at this, we figured they never would really fly. However, one spring day, the wild geese over head, I guess something went "spong" in their little pea brains and before we knew it, they did a long take off running the length of the two houses, flapping frantically, and sailing right over the bluff into the water -- Vineyard Sound!
My mother was frantic. There was a strong tide running and we figured the next stop for Lucy and Goosey was Spain! Dad launched the dory and rowed toward them, but they got caught in the strong tide and were really heading east very swiftly. As luck would have it, the Menemsha Coast Guard Station boat crew was having a practice run and they saw our hapless birds. Someone said, "I bet that's the Ponsart's geese!" (They were pretty well known as the "Nasty West Chop Poultry."
Well, our good buddies, the Coast Guardsmen scooped them up from a certain watery death and delivered them back to us. The Chief on delivering them up to us said, "Well, we've been on wild goose chases before . . . but not where we actually caught two geese who went wild."
We all had a good laugh on that and Lucy and Goosey returned to the pen, never again to be tempted to go AWOL.
While the names Goosey and Lucy are feminine, by the time we found out they were ganders, it was too late to change them - I can safely say that they were probably the most notorious and the only ganders ever to roam West Chop Light.