Monday, June 26, 2017

Farewell

Ocracoke residents have been taken aback by a number of recent deaths.

On Saturday islanders gathered at the Methodist Church to bid farewell to Earl W. O'Neal, Jr. (1929-2017). Earl was a prominent local historian who published several extensive genealogies of Ocracoke families, wrote detailed books recounting local history, and collected untold numbers of vintage photographs, wills, deeds, and other documents. Earl was incredibly generous, always willing to share his knowledge and collections with interested individuals, island businesses, and local organizations.


















Earl had been honored by being awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor. He also received Ocracoke Preservation Society's first annual Cultural Heritage Award for his many contributions in preserving the island's culture and heritage.

You can read a more complete obituary for Earl here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/149430.

Earlier in the week native islander, James Barrie Gaskill, died in Pamlico Sound while fishing his gill nets. James Barrie (1943-2017) was an iconic local fisherman and defender of Ocracoke's commercial fishing and traditional water-related occupations. He had a wonderful sense of humor, a sharp mind, and an unadulterated island brogue. Visitors and islanders will always remember him and his colorful business, Fat Boys Fish Company. 


















James Barrie will be missed by all. One small consolation is that he died out on the water doing what he loved.

You can read a tribute to James Barrie here: https://www.coastalreview.org/2017/06/james-barrie-gaskill-friend-of-our-coast/.

Last month local islander, Clyde Austin died at his home after a long illness. Clyde (1926-2017) was one of the four original crew members who started the Hatteras Inlet Ferry Service in the 1950’s. In 1986, he retired after 30 years of service with the NCDOT Ferry Division.

You can read Clyde's obituary here:  http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/149004.

Earlier this month former island resident, Russel Newell, died. Russel (1933-2017) was another colorful character. He was an early island developer who wrote and recited his own original poems and songs, and often entertained ferry passengers with his spontaneous trombone performances.

You can read Russel's obituary here: https://ocracokeobserver.com/2017/06/14/russell-newell-1933-2017-developer-and-poetsong-writer/

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a recording of Rex O'Neal telling about the time he fell overboard when he was gigging for flounder. The story was recorded for Coastal Voices, an oral history project about the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks and Down East region of coastal North Carolina. Click here to listen to Rex telling his story: https://carolinacoastalvoices.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/rex-oneal-gigging-flounders-2/.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Ocracoke Sock

There is an Ocracoke Street in Charlotte, NC, and a US Coast Guard Cutter named Ocracoke.

USCG Cutter Ocracoke












Now there is an Ocracoke sock!













The Ocracoke Sock, manufactured by Farm to Feet, makers of 100% American socks, is produced to honor and celebrate the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail. This is what they have to say about their sock: "Each morning first light hits the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the popular vacation destination of Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks. The sock’s design reflects the beautiful colors of the morning sunrise.

I wonder if our readers know of any more streets, vessels, products, etc. named for Ocracoke Island. If so, please leave a comment.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a recording of Rex O'Neal telling about the time he fell overboard when he was gigging for flounder. The story was recorded for Coastal Voices, an oral history project about the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks and Down East region of coastal North Carolina. Click here to listen to Rex telling his story: https://carolinacoastalvoices.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/rex-oneal-gigging-flounders-2/

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pamlico Tavern

In January I shared several photos from the 1980s. Recently my neighbor, Al, showed me this advertising poster for the Pamlico Inn and Pamlico Tavern. It was in a stack of Ocracoke clippings from the '80s.


















This establishment must have been short-lived (or Al and I are losing our memories; maybe both), but neither of us remembers this restaurant. Do any of our readers recollect this place. The poster indicates it was located on Highway 12...maybe where Gaffer's is today??

Please leave a comment if you can enlighten us.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a recording of Rex O'Neal telling about the time he fell overboard when he was gigging for flounder. The story was recorded for Coastal Voices, an oral history project about the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks and Down East region of coastal North Carolina. Click here to listen to Rex telling his story: https://carolinacoastalvoices.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/rex-oneal-gigging-flounders-2/.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rex O'Neal Falls Overboard

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter comes from the oral history project, Coastal Voices.

Barbara Garrity-Blake, Susan West, and Karen Amspacher, (North Carolina folklorists, researchers, historians, and collectors of stories) have been instrumental in creating Coastal Voices, an oral history project about the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks and Down East region of coastal North Carolina.

Photo courtesy Coastal Voices Collection, Core Sound Museum















In 2014 Coastal Voices published a short video of Ocracoke islander, Rex O'Neal, relating the story of the time he fell overboard in Pamlico Sound while gigging for flounders in the early morning hours. Rex provides a delightfully entertaining telling of this story, made all the more enjoyable by his infectious exuberance.

Click here to listen to Rex telling his story: https://carolinacoastalvoices.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/rex-oneal-gigging-flounders-2/.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alligators

About a year and a half ago I mentioned on this blog that alligators have been seen in eastern North Carolina, including Hyde County mainland.

A few days ago I was returning to the island via the Swan Quarter ferry. I noticed this sign near the docks:


















I understand the ferry personnel see alligators there fairly regularly. I wonder if any of our readers have seen alligators in eastern North Carolina. Please leave a comment if you have.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Aleta, Ocracoke's mailboat from 1944-1952, compliments of the Core Sound Museum. Click on the following link for photos, text, and audio recordings about this iconic vessel: http://www.coresound.com/saltwaterconnections/portlight/aleta/

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ocracoke Railway

Several times Cousin Blanche mentioned to me that she had heard there was a railway on Ocracoke many years ago. According to her the railway proceeded from the old Ponder (sometimes called Ponzer) Hotel (1885-1900), followed what today is called Howard Street (it was the main thoroughfare in the 1800s), and terminated at the beach.

The Ponder Hotel
 










After questioning Blanche I discovered this was designed for a horse drawn wagon (she called it a tram) that took hotel guests to the beach. Since I could find no evidence (physical or historical) of a railway ever being on Howard Street, and an old definition of "tram" is "a low four-wheeled cart," I decided there must not have been a railway...just a wagon path...down Howard Street. 

Then, lo and behold, not long ago my neighbor Al Scarborough brought me a transcript of an 1890 advertisement for the Ponder Hotel. It includes this short paragraph: "The surf is only a short walk from the hotel, and this can be reached by a tram railway at any and all times, if the walk seems tiresome. In fact no wish of a guest will be denied to insure ease and comfort."

I should have known not to question Blanche! She is a treasure trove of island history. Even today when I visit her in the assisted living facility in Nags Head we chat about the Ocracoke she remembers and the Ocracoke she heard about from the old timers.

You can read more about the Hotel Ponder and steamship traffic to Ocracoke in our August, 2014, Ocracoke Newsletter: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082114.htm.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Aleta, Ocracoke's mailboat from 1944-1952, compliments of the Core Sound Museum. Click on the following link for photos, text, and audio recordings about this iconic vessel: http://www.coresound.com/saltwaterconnections/portlight/aleta/

Friday, June 16, 2017

Progueing

Cecil Bragg, in his book, Ocracoke Island: Pearl of the Outer Banks, writes about "Progueing for a living." He says, "It seems that word isn't used except on the Outer Banks. Fishing, clamming, crabbing, oystering and shrimping are called progueing... To catch clams [in years gone by] one used a farm rake with the teeth bent in a bow-shape so it would push easier in the seaweed growth and one could feel the rake hit a clam and they would dig [it] up and put it in a wooden water-tight box which we drug behind us with a rope tied around our waists."

Nowadays we progue for clams using rakes with tines fashioned from stainless steel table knives, and with metal or plastic baskets equipped with a flotation device. Other than that, the procedure is the same as it was done many years ago.














 



This is what I wrote about progueing several years ago: Old time O'cockers could often be found progueing for a living. They'd progue for fish, clams, oysters, crabs, even turtles. Sometimes they'd use a gig (for flounder), a rake (for clams), or tongs (for oysters). Turtle progues were also used on the island.

Progue is a variation of an obsolete term "prog" (going back at least to 16th century England & Scotland), meaning to search, prowl about, or forage for food or plunder. On Ocracoke it can be used to mean searching for seafood, or more generally for just poking about or jabbing at something (e.g. "Will you quick proguing around in that pile of trash!").

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Aleta, Ocracoke's mailboat from 1944-1952, compliments of the Core Sound Museum. Click on the following link for photos, text, and audio recordings about this iconic vessel: http://www.coresound.com/saltwaterconnections/portlight/aleta/