The Historian Loves Star Island

By Melissa Saggerer, Vaughn Cottage Curator

Star Island is a ridiculously romantic place. Before I came out to work on Star a little over 10 years ago, I had never stepped on island before. I asked friends what to expect. A dear soul told me some basic things about the island, and then he got really quiet and serious and made sure I was paying attention. Like, listen. EVERYONE falls in love out there. EVEN the ADULTs. He was really wide eyed and earnest. As if adults don’t fall in love anywhere, but this place was magic and tricky, and you just fall in love accidentally as you’re walking down the front porch. It is such a dreamy place, it is easy to see why.

I’m not sure if it’s the fresh air, the sea breeze, the energy vortex (have we gotten that confirmed?) or just the plethora of dreamboats that visit Gosport Harbor. Whether there is any concrete reason we can blame, love has been at the Isles of Shoals for ages. This past summer I put together a presentation of Love at the Isles of Shoals for the Pelican Valentine’s Day celebrations. I later followed up with some love-themed stories on the Vaughn Blog. Some of my favorite parts included fisherfolk flirting by throwing rocks at each other, Oscar Laighton’s wild love life- including his heartbreak over Lucy Darby, and of course, my favorite heartthrob, Bobby Wharem.

Bobby Wharem worked at the Isles of Shoals for 17 years, as the chief engineer and also the winter keeper, alone on the island all winter. He used to date the prettiest waitress each summer. One year I photocopied his image and wore it as the background on my namebadge. A friend came to visit and asked why I had a picture of Matt Terenna on my nametag. Well, we had been dating, and now we’re married, but his similarities to Bobby are not why I fell for him. Right? I’m blaming the sea breeze.

Don’t have a sweetheart currently? Well, don’t worry, I hear Star Island is a great place for meeting someone, and also great without romance. To heed the words of the wise Ms. Tulip, advice columnist for Gossiport magazine, “Sometimes a relationship on the island is a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing.” Regardless of your romantic standing, I hope to see you on island this summer.

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