The Philosophic Giant
Irving D. Conklin, head keeper of the Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse from 1931 to 1942, shown here from a March 24, 1935 photo that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, was a favorite of newspaper reporters who loved to visit and interview him. One early newspaper account labeled him a “Philosophic Giant,” a name that stuck with him.
Although many of those newspaper interviews were similar, many of the stories were changed or enhanced from other written interviews with him. That could have been due to the reporter’s style of writing, or by the way Conklin told the story. However, Conklin was known to complain that too many reporters made mistakes in the stories that were written from his interviews. This was obvious in a July 31, 1939 story in the Los Angeles Times, when, looking at the lens, a reporter asked, “How many candlepower is it?”
Conklin gruffly replied, “Do you know anything about candlepower?” To which the reporter replied, “No.” And Conklin quickly retorted “Then let’s skip that and talk about things you can understand. That way you won’t make any mistakes.”
Irving Conklin took his job seriously and was sometimes quite gruff about it. In that same 1939, interview he told the reporter, “Don’t say that living in a lighthouse is light house-keeping. That joke was no good when it was spawned 100 years ago and age has not improved it.” Perhaps that’s why, in 1939, Irving Conklin published a book, titled, Guideposts of the Sea.
Irving Conklin started his career in the Lighthouse Service in 1927 at the Point Reyes Lighthouse in California. From there he went to Point Knox Lighthouse where he served from 1929 to 1931, and then to Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse. (Lighthouse Digest archives.)
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