My grandmother loved lighthouses. She visited them and made beautiful needlework of various lighthouses on the Great Lakes and Outer Banks. There were little lighthouse tchotchkes around her home. There was probably lighthouse wallpaper somewhere.
My husband and I have visited a number of lighthouses in Ohio, North Carolina, and California. At some point, I noticed the spiral staircase running through the center of each one was always the same. In the early 1900s, the federal government, recognizing the importance of lighthouses to maritime traffic, began a series of upgrades around the country. These upgrades included the installation of new cast iron spiral staircases to replace old wooden or stone ones. These new staircases are integral to the lighthouses and provided structural support.
Jane, why are you telling us all of this? Well my dear friends, in order to be the best I can be for you, I am attending a professional development tax forum in sunny Indianapolis, Indiana. This forum is at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which has been built into and around the historic train shed of Union Station. In an attempt to maintain some of the historical look and feel of the train station, the staircases here are the exact same design as those in the lighthouses.
Oh wait, I forgot to mention. My family and I still visit lighthouses and every single time I go running into one, I get to about the fourth step of those cast iron spiral stairs and I FREEZE IN SHEER TERROR. Nothing is more frightening than those stairs. I somehow force myself to keep walking up, (using a patented technique of staring at the outer wall, clutching Bob’s shirt, and hyperventilating) and when we get to the top, I press myself fully into the outside wall of the lighthouse and panic some more. Then, I come down and wait for my heart to stop exploding.
So this is my gift to you, my beloved tax prep-ettes. Here I am in Indianapolis, and I inched my way down the winding staircase. And I’m pretty sure I almost died. All for you.
[Writer’s Note: 80% of this post may be semi-false. I was a little stressed out. But I did download a 317-page document on historic lighthouse restoration in an attempt to look legit.]
2023 UPDATE The new photo is from the lighthouse in Key West, which is where we somehow wound up for New Year’s. I was in pretty bad shape, but doing my best and I was determined to navigate the top! Then I looked down and saw that part of the railing was held together with duct tape.
As I said to my daughter, “SHIT WAS LOST.”