Sometime in the 1920s or 1930’s my grandmother, Delsie Geneva Ames, set out from Connecticut as a new bride with 3 cedar trunks full of china, silver, linens, and an oil lamp from a ship.
My dad isn’t sure where she lived in Connecticut but I know that the Ames family can trace their way back to the Mayflower (not that that’s unique, but it’s A Thing). The cedar trunks moved to the various places my grandparents were stationed in the Navy during WWII and beyond.
Fast forward to the mid 1970s to when my parents were first married; my mom found the ships lamp in one of the cedar trunks and put it on their mantle. Unfortunately the globe was broken in an accident and, seeing that it’s a difficult size to find, the lamp got packed away again.
Then came last year when we seriously considered buying a ships lantern but couldn’t find just the right one at the right price. “Wait”, I said, “I think my parents have one…”.
It hadn’t been used in 100 years or more but a new globe was easy to source thanks to the power of the interwebs. I heartily recommend http://www.oillampparts.com if you have such a need… The new globe is squat and flared at the bottom; a true ships lamp glass. We improvised a set screw to replace the one that was missing so there is no chance of it toppling off.
It is mounted it to the mast step above the salon table. The slightest movement of the boat sways it gently on its gimbals and it casts enough light to eat dinner by or to play a board game.
The lamp is somewhat battered, sturdily built, unornamented. It seems like a working boat lamp, not one that would appeal to a lady. It’s a mystery why my grandmother carried this lamp with her across the country; the aesthetic doesn’t match her ornate silver or the blue-and-white wedding china from Boston. While I don’t know why this lamp was special to her I am so grateful that she kept it! It’s just one more special touch that makes Devilfish our home.