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 Post subject: Re: Ft Gratiot Mascot has crossed the bar
Unread postPosted: October 24, 2011, 3:11 am 
Jon O, you have some great memories to hold on to!


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 Post subject: Re: Ft Gratiot Mascot has crossed the bar
Unread postPosted: October 23, 2011, 12:19 am 
I had the pleasure, honor and privilege of working for a summer with Robert "Lighthouse Bob" Hanford, the official lightkeeper of Fort Gratiot Light for 20 years. My wife, my mom and I all volunteered at the Lighthouse during the summer of 2007. That's how we got to know the command staff and personnel at Coast Guard Station Port Huron and how we met sweet Maddie. During "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown Day" that summer, Madison was very excited because there was a large turnout of people that turned out to have the chance to climb the tower of Fort Gratiot Light. She wanted to visit with everyone. As hard as the Coasties at the station tried, they could not keep Maddie secured at the station. She would swim up from the beach after having jumped off the seawall and worked her way around the fence that separated the Coast Guard Station from the Lighthouse property. Either that or she would just bump the gate latch with her nose and pop the gate open that separated the two properties. While volunteering at the station, I would dress in the work uniform of the Lighthouse Service -- overalls, blue shirt and LHS cap. Later in the afternoon, Mr. Acheson of Acheson Ventures generously sent a courier around to the various sites to deliver large boxes of cupcakes for the visitors to enjoy. A short time after the treats were passed out, a fellow came up to me and, assuming that I was a member of the Coast Guard, told me "Hey mister, your dog just stole that kid's cupcake." I kind of laughed and told him that I wasn't in the Coast Guard and she wasn't my dog. Little did I know. As I would learn when she actually became my dog about a month and a half later, she was definitely a chow hound. But she was such a character and such a good dog. Much has been written about the character and contribution of the various canine mascots who have served the US Coast Guard and how much they contributed to morale at the station. Madison may not be the most famous of the mascots, but she certainly was a treasure and a terrific ambassador for the Coast Guard. She was also became a beloved member of our family. When Lighthouse Bob passed away in 2010, I couldn't attend the service and I am sorry we missed it. One of the speakers at the service, Bob's good friend and dedicated Ft Gratiot volunteer Dave Bennis, told a story about how a child once asked Bob whether Ft Gratiot Light was haunted. Bob replied "Maybe not yet, but it will be one day." That was typical of Bob and his delightful sense of humor. If the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse Station is blessed to have the spirit of Bob Hanford looking over it -- as I firmly believe -- I now think he'll have a sweet yellow Labrador Retriever named Madison with him, keeping him company.. Restoration is underway at the site and the masons are doing a terrific job in repairing the damaged brickwork on the outer wythe of the tower. Officials say that guests will be able to visit the site in 2012. Bob and Maddie will be happy to see guests again at a hallowed place that they both loved so much.


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 Post subject: Re: Ft Gratiot Mascot has crossed the bar
Unread postPosted: October 17, 2011, 2:31 pm 
A great story! Thanks for posting. Yes, more pictures and any additional stories would be appreciated.


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 Post subject: Ft Gratiot Mascot has crossed the bar
Unread postPosted: October 17, 2011, 1:54 pm 
Sad news for people who visited the Ft. Gratiot Light between September 2004 and August 2007. Madison, the yellow Labrador Retriever who was often on hand to greet visitors along with the Lightkeeper, the late "Lighthouse Bob" Hanford, passed away Sunday afternoon, Oct. 16, 2011. She was 11. Madison was the official mascot of US Coast Guard Station Port Huron during that time. She was proficient in letting herself out of the station headquarters and spent many hours swimming in the station boat harbor or on the beach. She occasionally snuck out to neighboring Lighthouse Park, searching trash cans for leftover picnic goodies. While Bob and his volunteers would be conducting tours for school children or for weekend visitors, Maddie would often come over from the station, looking for handouts and hugs. She would occasionally shake, showering visitors with water and sand and getting a squeal and a laugh in return from the children. She is likely in many photos that visitors snapped of their visit to Ft Gratiot Lighthouse. (If anyone has photos to share, please post here.) Madison was retired in summer 2007 and adopted by a volunteer from the Port Huron Museum who worked at the light. In retirement, she was loved and had a good home with other dogs, good food and many dog treats. Madison had one last visit to her old stomping grounds for a short swim and a rest on the beach on October 10. She was a very smart, very good, very sweet girl and will be missed very much.


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File comment: Madison enjoying a peaceful moment at Lighthouse Beach, near Coast Guard Station Pt Huron Oct. 10, 2011
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