Retired letter carrier George “Buddy” Grover’s title of “top dog” in his profession comes with a cache of credibility. Every Friday this volunteer greets visitors at the summit of the 171-foot tall Absecon Lighthouse on Rhode Island Avenue.
“About eight years ago I decided to take the Lighthouse Challenge. My friend mentioned to the director that I had been talking for years about volunteering at the lighthouse. We talked and I started the next Friday.”
The lighthouse beacon is a first order Fresnel lens, invented by a French engineer and physicist in the mid-1800s. First lit in 1857, the lens was one of six original orders.
“If someone climbs, the first thing I do is put them in a position to see the lens. That system of prisms projected the light source about 23 miles at sea. The original light source was a cluster of five or six kerosene lamps, so to be seen that far away was really remarkable.”
Besides his storehouse of lighthouse knowledge, Buddy also derives personal benefits from his volunteer post.
“I get exercise, and I get a chance to have interesting conversations with the people who climb. It’s gratifying to relate the history of the lighthouse and the area to interested visitors.”
Anyone with a penchant for picking up some nautical history and challenging Absecon Lighthouse’s 228 steps can find Buddy Grover waiting at the top.
-John “Yonk” Rosnick