Thursday, December 16, 2004

Last Post Until January, 2005

Ocracoke is a wonderful place to live. Of course it is.'s good to go someplace different now and then. I will be leaving tomorrow and will be gone for the holidays. My good friend Finley will be staying in my home on the island and celebrating the holidays with Jude and other island friends.

Village Craftsmen will be filling internet orders regularly (ask my staff....they don't need me here!), and our store on Howard Street will be open December 27 - December 31. If you're planning a Chrismas week trip to the island be sure to stop by and say hello.

Village Craftsmen will close for the month of January.

All of the Village Craftsmen staff (Dallie, Jude, Jaren, Dale, & Leon) join me in wishing you the Happiest of Holidays. Also, let's all do our part to promote peace & justice for all the world's people in the New Year.

I'll be back in early January with daily posts once again.

Fire Update

Last week I reported that my friend Lou Ann's son and family (Aaron, Karen, Matthew, & Jonah) came home from an evening with friends to discover their home surrounded by fire trucks. The house burned to the ground and no more than a handful of personal items was recovered.

Ocracoke residents joined with family & friends from their home town in Indiana to provide shelter, clothing, toys, and incidentals. For the short term they are being cared for. In a few days they will go to Aaron's brother's home in Florida to work in construction.

Several journal readers have asked what they could do to help out. Long term needs are now a priority. When they return to Indiana in the Spring they will be faced with need for housing and major appliances. A church in their hometown has set up a fund to help with these future needs. If you would like to contribute, a donation of any amount would be appreciated. The address is Fairview Missionary Church, 525 East & 200 North, Anglola, IN 46703. Please designate any funds for the "Aaron Homan Family Fund."

Thank you to all who expressed their concern and sent wishes and offers of assistance.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

At First It's Cold!

But then the hot water appears -- from both shower heads. Ahhhhh.

It's 35 degrees here this morning, and I thought a moment or two before heading to the outdoor shower. But, hey, it's invigorating....and really quite pleasant once the hot water starts flowing, even on a breezy day like today.

Several days ago a reader asked, "What's in store for New Year's Eve?........What does the island do to ring in the New Year?" I hate to admit it, but I don't know what folks are planning this year. Certainly something will be happening at Howard's Pub, and various others will be having private parties, but I don't know of any community-wide festivities being planned. That may change, however. Ocracokers are experts at throwing together parties at the last minute.

This year I'll be off-island for Christmas and New Year's Eve. A friend will be staying at my place. Maybe she'll throw a party while I'm gone! I don't trust her to add journal entries, though. There's no telling what she might tell you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ocracoke Newsletter

We published another Ocracoke Newsletter a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, the emails to about 1/3 of the folks on our mailing list were not delivered because of a computer glitch with our server. If you did not receive our email notification you can still read the newsletter here.

In other news, the weather on the island has certainly turned colder. Right now it is only in the mid 40's. Several stores on or near School Road stayed open this evening for those of us who are still doing last minute holiday shopping. It's not quite like being downtown in the city, but the stores were decorated with Christmas lights and they were serving wine and cheese & crackers. Very pleasant.

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Christmas in the Country"

Tonight at 7 o'clock George Hamilton, IV, country music legend and Grand Ole Opry star, will be in concert at the Ocracoke United Methodist Church. His program is entitled "Christmas in the Country" and consists of many Christmas favorites. We're looking forward to a great show.

It's 58 degrees right & breezy, but very pleasant, under sunny skies. The beach has been a wonderful place to go for peace and quiet. Only one fisherman out where I was walking this afternoon.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Losing is Winning

It's Sunday, very early in the morning. I've just returned home after losing $4.00 at "nickel, dime, quarter" poker. But let's look at it another way:

This afternoon I made a plate full of deviled eggs. At 5:00 I carried them out to Jimmy's garage and shared them with several hundred other islanders. In return I spent a relaxing couple of hours visiting, laughing, listening to stories, and enjoying some of the best home-cooked food anywhere -- barbecue, corn, pasta salads, sweet potato casseroles, scalloped potatoes, cole slaw, and all manner of delicious desserts.

At 8:00 I joined seven friends for four hours of poker, island gossip, jokes, good-natured ribbing, and camaraderie. On the way home I looked up into the night sky, amazed once again at the dazzling display of stars strewn across the heavens.

All of this for only $4.00! I count it a spectacular bargain.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Last night's "Ocrafolk Christmas" was a big success, with an almost full house at Deepwater Theater. The usual lineup of performers (Molasses Creek, Coyote, Roy Parsons, etc.) was joined by John Golden, Jamie Tunnell, Michael Hilton, & the Ocracoke School Music Club. The audience was almost entirely local residents so it felt like a family gathering. At the end of the show Gary Mtchell passed out Christmas songbooks and everyone joined together singing a number of traditional holiday tunes. It was a superb performance with a down-home "feel good" atmosphere.

Today the weather has turned chillier. It's only 58 degrees and the sky has clouded over, with a stiff breeze blowing. Who knows, it might even feel like Christmas before the year's over. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Christmas is in the Air

Tonight between 5:00 & 7:00 the Ocracoke Preservation Society will host its annual wassail party at the museum. We will light the community Christmas tree, sing carols, drink hot cider, and visit with neighbors and friends. The temperature is a balmy 70 degrees, so it won't feel much like winter, but we are getting into the spirit of the season nonetheless.

At 8:00 there will be an Ocrafolk Christmas concert at the Deepwater Theater. We'll enjoy some wonderful music and listen to island tales. I'll be telling the story of the wreck of the British steamship "Ariosto" on Christmas Eve, 1899.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Maybe I'll Be Lucky

Tonight was the Ocracoke Library's Christmas Cookie Swap. I spent all afternoon wiring the upstairs bathroom in the old homestead, so I didn't take time to bake any cookies. wonderful daughter, Amy, made cream puffs (I told her that each one was worth at least two regular cookies). I'm hoping she'll share a few of the cookies she gets tonight.

In other news, the weather has taken a more somber turn today. It has been overcast all day. It even rained a bit in the afternoon. So, just to be honest, it's not always bright and sunny here on the island. But it is still warm. I've got all of my windows open, just enjoying the unseasonally balmy winter weather.

Hardly a visitor is on the island, but many of you have been placing internet orders at the Village Craftsmen. We can ship most orders the very next day, so if you've still got folks on your holiday list (as I do!), keep us in mind.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Barefoot in December

I walked into the Post Office this morning and saw a neighbor standing there barefooted. The temperature is 68 degrees under beautiful, sunny skies. And the village is quiet, quiet, quiet. While we were chatting another person walked in dressed in a tie-dyed t-shirt and shorts. "This is going on my daily journal today," I enthused to the barefooted friend. "All those folks dressed in suits & ties, or high-heeled shoes, creeping along the beltway will so wish they were here. Maybe not all of them....but some of them at least." "Well, it's not my fault they're not," was the only response.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Sad News from Off-Island

My friend Lou Ann and I had been having a wonderful time enjoying Ocracoke's marvelous December weather (the temperature today is in the upper 60's), when we received a phone call from Lou Ann's son in Indiana. He and his wife and two children came home last night to see their burning home surrounded by dozens of fire trucks. The house was fully engulfed in flames and was beginning to collapse into the basement. They lost the house and all of their belongings. At least no one was injured.

Lou Ann will be leaving in the morning to be with them. In the meanwhile Ocracokers have been collecting personal items to send to her family.

We had all been enjoying Lou Ann's visit to the island, and looking forward to several more days of her contributions to our community, but we understand that she needs to be back home at this time. We send all of our thoughts and concerns, as well as clothes & toys.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Sunsets, Ducks, & Dolphins

I was gone most of the day yesterday. Rode across to Cedar Island (walked onto the ferry) to meet Lou Ann, who has come for a week-long visit. On the way back home we sat on the upper deck and ate cheese & crackers and drank a glass of red wine. The sunset over Pamlico Sound was magnificent. The view was crisp & clear so we held our breath as the last speck of the sun's orb disappeared behind the horizon, and looked for the legendary green flash. No luck this time, but the final remnants of the day spread across the western sky in spectacular fashion.

This afternoon we walked to the ocean beach. A huge floating "island" of cormorants was just beginning to take off for its flight to their nighttime roost in the sound. We watched for an hour as dozens, then hundreds, and finally thousands of birds took to the sky and headed west. We estimated at least a hundred thousand cormorants. As the last rays of the sun painted the sky and water a multitude of colors a large pod of dolphins appeared close off shore.

Life is good.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Brief Note

The ocean was calm today. Just gentle waves lapping on the shore. Amy, Lachlan, & I strolled for about 45 minutes. There was hardly a soul on the beach. The temperature is a chilly 48 degrees, but it's been sunny all day. Not much going on right now.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ida Lawrence

Not much going on here on the island today. Hardly a "stranger" to be seen. It's been cool (in the mid-50's) but sunny. Stars are glorious again tonight.

However, on this date in 1902 the schooner "Ida Lawrence" wrecked on Ocracoke's beach. All hands aboard were rescued. At least one house (eponymously named) was built from lumber salvaged from the Ida Lawrence.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Night Sky

'Twas a long day for a 20 minute doctor's appointment. Left at 9:30 am and got home at 7:00 pm. The good news is that all is well.

The other good news is that the view of the stars was spectacular on the ferry ride home. Orion, the Seven Sisters, the Milky Way, and so many more were strewn across the heavens as if some pirate captain had opened his treasure chest and tossed diamonds about with total abandonment.

Such beauty.....and there's no admission charge. Even the ferry ride is free!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004


"I've come a-bumming," my neighbor, William, said as he poked his head in the door. I was wiring a ceiling light. William was looking for just enough mortar to finish a job he was working on. Unfortunately I didn't have what he needed.

On Ocracoke you can't just run out to the shopping center for whatever you want. So we rely on each other. I've had Jason's extra long drill bit for a couple of weeks now. No point in buying something I may never need again. Rob, Al, Frank, and I own a power washer together. Why buy four when one will do?

We trade lumber, tools, lawn mowers, outboard motor parts, electrical supplies, what-have-you. We're resourceful, and it builds community.

I'm sure William will find enough mortar somewhere on the island. And in the process, he'll get to know his neighbors just a little bit better. It's a good thing we have here.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Days Growing Shorter

Puddles are still standing throughout the village after heavy rainfall on Saturday night. But the days are mild and the sun is peeking out now and then. The village is quiet today. Most of the Thanksgiving holiday visitors have returned home. We islanders are settling in for the winter season. But all is not dull.

Coming up in the next couple of weeks are another music & storytelling concert, as well as holiday get-togethers & celebrations at the local churches and the Preservation Society Museum. Of course, there's the big community party at Jimmy's garage on the 11th. Look for more information in the weeks to come.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Car Thief!

Recently I heard this story about one of my island neighbors:

He was in Norfolk, at a car dealer's and had just purchased a brand new vehicle. He had traded in his old clunker amd was driving his new car out of the lot when, in his rear-view mirror, he noticed the salesman flagging him down.

The salesman wanted to know how to get the trade-in's key out of the ignition. It seemed to have oxidized and was stuck. "I don't know," was the answer. "I've never had the key out of the ignition."

Oh, by the way, I found my pick-up truck. I should have guessed. My son-in-law had borrowed it. He just didn't return it to where he'd found it. The scotch bonnet is still on the dash.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Such is Life on an Island

Imagine this -- you walk home near midnight from an evening out, and you notice that your car is gone. What do you do? (Think about it before you read on.)

Here's what I did tonight -- I thought, "Oh, someone must have borrowed it."

So we'll see tomorrow. No panic. No late night phone calls to the sheriff's department. No lost sleep. I'm confident it will turn up tomorrow with a good explanation. This is Ocracoke, after all.

Check back tomorrow for the update! In the meanwhile, good night.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Happy Birthday Zoe!

Thnksgiving Day on Ocracoke was sunny and beautiful. It was all the more wonderful because all of my family was here, including my three grandchildren from western NC, Zoe, Eakin, & Eliza, and my island grandchild, Lachlan. We ate heartily, took walks and bike rides, drew pictures, read books, built an Ocracoke birdtrap, and played games.

Overnight the weather turned cold. It's only 48 degrees today, but it is sunny and clear. Tonight we'll celebrate Zoe's 9th birthday and then go to the benefit concert for the Ocrafolk festival. Molasses Creek will perform, and so will Donald Davis, Martin Garrish, Roy Parsons, Marcie & Lou, Rob & Sundae, and Aaron Caswell. Oh yeah, and I'll tell about Ocracoke's first automobile accident (there were only two motor vehicles on the island at the time!).

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

Another wonderful day on the island. It was so warm today that we turned on the air conditioning in the Village Craftsmen. It's raining now, but still very mild.

This morning Amy called me over to witness Lachlan's first spoonful of rice cereal. He liked it, but wasn't ready to give up his mama!

My other three grandchildren (Zoe, Eakin, & Eliza) are also visiting all week. Ranger Gail was kind enough to open the lighthouse for them this morning, and after lunch we built an authentic Ocracoke Island bird trap.

We are looking forward to a large, old-fashioned family Thanksgiving tomorrow. And we wish you all a happy Thanksgiving wherever you are.

Several readers have requested more recent photos of Amy & David's youngun, Lachlan. What luck....David just posted photos on the Molasses Creek web site. You can see the pictures here: Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Springer's Point

The temperature this evening was a balmy 60 degrees. It was a pleasant bike ride under partly cloudy skies and a waxing moon. Dozens of people had gathered at Sue & Ed Norvell's home to celebrate last year's acquisition by the NC Coastal Land Trust of 31 acres at Springer's Point and the recent purchase of 91 adjacent acres of the McWilliams tract.

Springer's Point, on the western edge of Ocracoke village, with its hummocks of twisted old live oak, yaupon, red bay, and red cedar trees hosts one of the largest and most diverse nesting rookeries in the state, featuring eight species of ibis, heron, and egret. The dunes beside the sandy beach are covered with flowering yucca, sea oxeye, and seaside morning glories. Biologists consider this spot to be of statewide significance because of its maritime forest and importance to wading birds.

The NC Coastal Land Trust is seeking financial support for Springer's Point forest restoration, preserve amenities, educational materials, & annual maintenance. You can read more about Springer's Point here: You can make an on-line contribution here:

Springer's Point is truly an Ocracoke treasure. We are delighted to know that it will be preserved and protected for us and for future generations.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Downfall of Piracy

On this date in 1718 Ocracoke's most notorious part-time resident was killed just off of Springer's Point.

On hearing the news a young Benjamin Franklin composed a "broadside ballad" commemorating the event. The full title of his poem is "The Downfal of Piracy; being a full and true Account of a desperate and bloody Sea-fight between Lieutenant Maynard, and that noted Pirate Captain Teach, commonly call'd by the Name of Blackbeard; Maynard had fifty Men, thirty five of which were kill'd and wounded in the Action: Teach had twenty one, most of which were kill'd, and the rest carried to Virginia, in order to take their Tryal."

Following is Franklin's ballad, designed to be sung to the tune of "What is greater Joy and Pleasure."

Will you hear of a bloody Battle,
Lately fought upon the Seas,
It will make your Ears to rattle,
And your Admiration cease;
Have you heard of Teach the Rover,
And his Knavery on the Main;
How of Gold he was a Lover,
How he lov'd all ill got Gain.
When the Act of Grace appeared,
Captain Teach with all his Men,
Unto Carolina steered,
Where they kindly us'd him then;
There he marry'd to a Lady,
And gave her five hundred Pound,
But to her he prov'd unsteady,
For he soon march'd of[f] the Ground.
And returned, as I tell you,
To his Robbery as before,
Burning, sinking Ships of value,
Filling them with Purple Gore;
When he was at Carolina,
There the Governor did send,
To the Governor of Virginia,
That he might assistance lend.
Then the Man of War's Commander,
Two small Sloops he fitted out,
Fifty Men he put on board, Sir,
Who resolv'd to stand it out:
The Lieutenant he commanded
Both the Sloops, and you shall hear,
How before he landed,
He suppress'd them without Fear.
Valiant Maynard as he sailed,
Soon the Pirate did espy,
With his Trumpet he then hailed,
And to him they did reply:
Captain Teach is our Commander,
Maynard said, he is the Man,
Whom I am resolv'd to hang Sir,
Let him do the best he can.
Teach reply'd unto Maynard,
You no Quarters here shall see,
But be hang'd on the Main-yard,
You and all your Company;
Maynard said, I none desire,
Of such Knaves as thee and thine,
None I'll give, Teach then replyed,
My Boys, give me a Glass of Wine.
He took the Glass, and drank Damnation,
Unto Maynard and his Crew;
To himself and Generation,
Then the Glass away he threw;
Brave Maynard was resolv'd to have him,
Tho' he'd Cannons nine or ten:
Teach a broadside quickly gave him,
Killing sixteen valiant Men.
Maynard boarded him, and to it
They fell with Sword and Pistol too;
They had Courage, and did show it,
Killing the Pirate's Crew.
Teach and Maynard on the Quarter,
Fought it out most manfully,
Maynard's Sword did cut him shorter,
Losing his Head, he there did die.
Every Sailor fought while he Sir,
Power had to weild [sic] the Sword,
Not a Coward could you see Sir,
Fear was driven from aboard:
Wounded Men on both Sides fell Sir,
'Twas a doleful Sight to see,
Nothing could their Courage quell Sir,
O, they fought courageously.
When the bloody Fight was over,
We're inform'd by a Letter writ,
Teach's Head was made a Cover,
To the Jack Staff of the Ship:
Thus they sailed to Virginia,
And when they the Story told,
How they kill'd the Pirates many,
They'd Applause from young and old.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Good Day

After a long day yesterday crawling under my house running electric wires I was rewarded at 6:30 when the Cedar Island ferry pulled into the slip with my son Stefen, his wife Snee, and my three grandchildren Zoe, Eakin, & Eliza. They will be here all week.

After brunch this morning with good friends Jimmy Creech and Chris & Natalia Weedy I will take my beach walk with the grand-younguns. It's such a treat to have them here in the off-season. The weather is still terrific even if it is cloudy today. Temperatures are in the mid 60's and the island is quiet, so I'll have plenty of time to spend with them.

Last night Bryan Bowers played to a full house at Deepwater Theater. Everyone agreed -- it's amazing what he can do with the lowly autoharp! As an added treat, Merle Davis had baked a half dozen delicious and exotic desserts for intermission. It was a great evening's entertainment.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A Busy Day Friday

No journal entry yesterday. I had breakfast with cousins Eddie & Betty early on, then went right to the old homeplace to continue replacing the electrical wiring. So far I've completed circuits in the dining room, kitchen, & living room. Everything is working perfectly, but it can be quite a challenge fishing wires through existing walls. The building inspector was pleasantly surprised. He said he's always prepared for the worst when a homeowner decides to do his/her own wiring. But everything passed (with flying colors, as they say) on the first inspection.

After work I joined friends for dinner, then played poker until midnight (I lost $2.00 -- not too costly for an evening's entertainment).

I'll continue work on the electric today, while looking forward to seeing my son and his family this evening. Tonight at 8:00 pm Bryan Bowers, autoharp artist on the traditional music circuit, will be performing at Deepwater Theater. Bowers, whom I recently heard perform at the National Storytelling Festival, can do some truly amazing things with the autoharp.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Answer to a Post

My cousin Nora posted this message recently: "Hi Philip! Your journal helps me get through many hectic days, until I'm able to get back to Ocracoke. I'd love to get a copy of the Muzel video. Is it available? Also, how about another photo of Lachlan?"

I understand that the video will be available from the Ocracok Preservation Society Museum. Cost is $14.50. You may have to email your request to the museum.

I am trying not to be an overbearing grandfather. However I will post another photo of Lachlan sometime soon. He really is a cutie!

In other news, the weather is back to being phenomenal. Just slightly cool, but sunny and pleasant. My walk on the beach yesterday was delightful -- a light jacket to begin with, just shirtsleeves after 10 minutes. The ocean was gentle and calming. Just the right way to end another wonderful day on Ocracoke.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Muzel & Lachlan

Last night at the Ocracoke Preservation Society potluck my grandson, Lachlan, and I sat at table with Muzel Bryant. Muzel, at 100 years old, and Lachlan, at 3 & 1/2 months old, were the oldest and youngest folks attending.

Muzel's mind is sharp and she remains in very good health. After the dinner and business meeting, Walt Wolfram, sociolinquist and friend of Ocracoke, introduced a documentary video that was produced by him and one of his students, Drew Grimes. The video, "Celebrating Muzel Bryant, 100 Years," documented Muze's long life and her community birthday party last March.

It was fun to visit with Muze and enjoy her quiet company.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Potlucks, and More Potlucks

A reader recently wrote, "You folks on Ocracoke really know how to 'Build Community'..we should all take lessons from you."

Sunday night Julie & Gary hosted a potluck dinner. About 35 - 40 folks (ages 3 months to late 60's) showed up with a bodacious assortment of delicious dishes. Two travelers from Vermont joined us and shared food and stories with islanders. I even received their "Most Hospitable Storyteller & Square Dance Caller Award." Quite an honor, I'd say.

Last night Amy & David got a group of about 20 people together for another potluck and a game of Werewolf. Again, the food was outstanding (especially the apple crisp!). Laughing & carrying on dominated the evening as we behaved like medieval peasants caught up in an irrational fervor.

Tonight a large group will gather at the Community Center for the annual membership meeting of the Ocracoke Preservation Society. One highlight of the evening will undoubtedly be Walt Wolfram's video presentation documenting Muzel Bryant's life and recent 100th birthday party. We're all hoping Muze will join us. Ann Ehringhaus will also show slides of this year's July 4th parade.

I've said it several times before -- Visitors often ask us "What do you do all winter?" If only they knew how busy (and it's a good busy) we are!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Neva May

On this date in 1886 the 3-year-old schooner "Neva May" (George Howard, owner and master) was stranded in Pamlico Sound, near Hatteras Inlet. $3,000.00 worth of pine lumber was removed from the deck. The six crew members and one passenger remained on board. It took four days and many hours of hard labor for the station crew to refloat the vessel.

Interestingly, the "Neva May" was stranded in almost the same place two years earlier.

Today the weather is cool, but sunny and clear. No signs of shipwrecks. No signs of much of anything today. Just beautiful fall weather and lots of quiet.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Flat Cat Cafe

Last night there was live music at the Community Center from 6:30 to 10:30. Our local teen band, "Mitchell & the Mumfries" played rock & roll to the pulse of colored lights for two hours. The center was hopping as natives and tourists & senior citizens and kids danced, clapped, and whooped it up.

At 8:30 electric guitars gave way to acoustic intruments -- mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and bass. Dozens of couples took to the floor for an old-time Ocracoke square dance. Young and old as well as visitors and old-timers joined hands to form a big circle. We twirled to the call of "Swing Your Partner" and shuffled to "Promenade."

"Four Hands Around," "Ocean Wave," & "Dive for the Oyster, Dig for the Clam" (everyone's favorite) kept everyone on their toes. "The March" & "Wind the Clock" were fun for all even if we did get a little tangled up at times.

It was quintessential small town America at it's best.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

52 Degrees & Windy

People are here for Village Days. Not hordes of folks, but enough to notice. In a couple of hours we'll be listening to music at the Community Center, and then enjoying a traditional Ocracoke square dance.

The weather is cold and windy, but everyone seems to be having a good time.

Friday, November 12, 2004

What a Deal!

Yesterday Cindy posted a question, asking, "I wonder if anybody has record of how much William Howard paid for the island?"

William Howard paid 105 Pounds for Ocracoke. Not a bad deal, I'd say.

There is some question about exactly what he purchased. In 1759 the island was only about eight miles long (inlets come and go over time). Also, "Ocracoke" (the area where the village is located) was apparently a seperate island from the "sandy banks" until late in the 18th century. With rising sea level the banks have migrated toward the west, and have "bumped into" the more stable "inside island" of Ocracoke.

Today, of course, "Ocracoke Island" encompasses the entire 16 mile stretch between Hatteras & Ocracoke Inlets. Interestingly, however, even within my own lifetime the tidal flats and ocean overwash that were common prior to the 1950's (and even into the 1970's) attested to the earlier separation of the village from the banks.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

John Lovick

John Lovick is a name connected with Ocracoke Island, but not often remembered. On this date 285 years ago, in 1719, the Lords Proprietors granted to him the entire island of Ocracoke. John Lovick, an Irish Quaker, never made Ocracoke his home, but apparently did use the island for raising livestock. Fourteen years later, in 1733, he sold the island to Richard Sanderson. In 1759 William Howard purchased the island and moved here with his family.

Thank you William!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Too Many Parties?

Ocracokers love community parties. Last night Leslie & Bill Gilbert hosted an End-of-the-Season party at the Community Center. I had other commitments so I missed this one, but I'm told the food was excellent and the music (Ocracoke Rockers) wonderful.

This weekend (Ocracoke Village Days) will be a two-day party of sorts, with music, dance, history/ghostwalk, yard sales, artist tours, and other special events.

We still have Thanksgiving, Jimmy & Linda's Christmas garage party, and various pot lucks to look forward to.

I guess we can't have too many parties!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


I know that 50 degrees may not seem cold to all of our readers from the northern states, but last night we had our first cold snap of the season. It was the only time since last winter that my heat has come on. The day is bright and clear, but Fall is definitely in the air. My outdoor shower has two shower heads. It was so nice to turn them both on and let the hot water cascade over my shoulders.

If you live close enough, consider coming out to the island this weekend for Village Days ( Lots of fun activities have been planned. Hope to see you here.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Red Skies

Last night as Tom Pahl and I walked down Lawton Lane to pick up my bike Tom noticed a red glow in the northern sky. It was a deep barn-red hue that spread wide above the trees. Intrigued, we abandoned our bikes and took Tom's truck to a dark spot on the sound.

By the time we arrived at the shoreline red had given way to pale blue. Two wide horizontal bands traversed the sky above the horizon. As we watched over the next half hour the colors compressed and then spread out again. Red reappeared along with more blue. Colors radiated upward in feathered bands.

The sky above our heads was crystal clear so thousands of stars and the Milky Way stood out prominently. The pole star was brightly shining directly above the colorful display. No doubt this was the Northern Lights. More commonly seen in northern latitudes, the Aurora Borealis is occasionally visible at Ocracoke. It was a thrill to experience this rare celestial display last night.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

An Island Day

For those of you who wonder what we islanders do in the off-season I present my day:

Went to breakfast at the Pony Island Restaurant with Amy & David (Lachlan stayed home with grandma). Friends joined us at our table, so there were about 10 of us there. Lots of other locals there today. Vince O'Neal, owner, gives free breakfast to locals on his last day of the season.

After breakfast we biked over to the Boyette House to visit with Karen Lovejoy on her last day of work (the motel will be renovated and converted into condos this winter).

Gave the Mitchells and Sundae Horn a tour of the house I'm restoring.

Walked to Springer's Point with Pam Smith (writer & editor with North Carolina Sea Grant) & her husband Doug.

Came home and worked the rest of the afternoon wiring my new (old) house with my son-in-law, David.

I'm going out now to listen to music at the Jolly Roger with Tom Paul, new owner of Ocracoke Restoration.

Unfortunately I didn't get to the beach today. What a shame. It was a gorgeous day again. Temps in the mid 60's under clear skies. This evening, in my outdoor shower the stars were spread across the heavens in grand profusion.

Not such a bad life, I'd say.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Sharon & Roy

Sharon Miller (former owner of Sandy Shores Realty, and now owner of Harbor View Motel) and Roy Sjoblom were married a couple of months ago in the Caribbean. Tonight they threw a party for all of Ocracoke at the Community Center. Close to three hundred folks showed up to wish the couple well; enjoy each other's company; share a fabulous spread of shrimp, barbecue, fresh fruits, cheeses, and drinks; and to dance under a whirlwind of colored lights. "Everyone" was there -- old folks & children, natives & transplants, Republicans & Democrats (even a couple of Libertarians!).

Ocracokers love a party. As we say, "No Fools, No Fun!"

Friday, November 05, 2004

A Little Self-Promotion

Many of you may know that New York Times Bestselling Author Audrey Penn has recently had a new book published. "Mystery at Blackbeard's Cove," an adventure novel for young people, is set on Ocracoke. I had the honor of providing a number of the book's illustrations.

Yesterday I added this delightful book to our web site. You can read about it (and order it) here: I've autographed the books, so they make an even better holiday gift.

Also, an alert reader pointed out to me that several links on our pages chronicling the restoration of my grandparents' home were not working. I have fixed those links. You can read about the most recent work, and link to earlier pages, from here:

I would be much obliged if readers would let me know whenever links on our web site are not working. Just email me at Thanks!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Ocracoke Election Results (Unofficial)

I understand that 510 votes were cast in this year's election (458 at the polls, 52 absentee), plus 11 provisional ballots. 68% of Ocracoke's 755 registered voters turned out to vote. John Kerry garnered approximately 60% of the votes, and President Bush about 40%. Four ballots were cast for the Libertarian candidate, and one for Ralph Nader. Nathan Sears was reelected as Ocracoke's county commissioner.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election Comments

Unofficial reports indicate that more than 500 island voters turned out yesterday to cast their ballots. I understand that the previous high turnout was only 384 voters. I have not yet heard a tally of Tuesday's Ocracoke votes.

Our county (Hyde) has five commissioners. Each one serves a township, but is elected at large. This means that Ocracoke's representative can easily be determined by voters on the mainland who outnumber islanders about 5 to 1. Even if our commissioner wins a majority of island votes, he or she is still outnumbered on the board of commissioners (again, 5 to 1). This is a constant cause of frustration and concern since Ocracokers and mainland Hyde County residents often have very different outlooks and interests.

My hope is that all of our elected officials (national, state, & local) recognize that effective leadership means working for the best interests of all of our citizens, regardless of whom they voted for.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

Ocracokers showed up early at the polls (the Community Center) this morning. I'm told that a line had formed 30 minutes before the doors opened at 6:30 am. All indications are that there will be a record turnout on the island this election day. Islanders are keenly interested in our local county commissioner's race, as well as the presidential contest.

We'll keep you posted as we get word of local results.

In other news, the weather continues to be outstanding. It was so nice yesterday that I jumped into the ocean on my daily walk along the beach. It was refreshingly cool, and the air was warm so I continued my walk barefooted & shirtless. Ah, November on the Outer Banks!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Ollie Baughm Styron Mutro

Our thoughts have been with Dale and his family these last few days. You may not know Dale. He works at the Village Craftsmen, but only part-time and "in the back" unpacking and pricing inventory. For several years Dale has been the primary care giver for his Granny, Ollie Baughm Styron Mutro. Ollie died last week, at the age of 83, after years of medical problems.

The funeral was this morning in the new Assembly of God church. Ollie was remembered for her love of children and animals, and for her devotion to her family. Dale spent much of his childhood with his grandmama, listening to her tales of "old Ocracoke." A line in a poem by J.K. Bulock in the church bulletin says it best: "And in the wintertime remember me in the stories that are told."

I'm sure Ollie will live on in the many and wonderful stories that Dale carries with him, as a younger, but valuable island "tradition bearer."

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween!

Most of the "Trick or Treaters" avoid Howard Street. I guess it's too spooky. Actually a couple of the mamas of the boys who went on the ghost walk Friday night told me how creepy the boys thought the stories were. I saw two of them tonight. One assured me he wasn't about to walk down Howard Street after dark with all those graveyards along the lane. The other one said he was going to write an expanded version of the Aunt Lorena story, and he'd have all of the dead rise up from their graves and join her on her midnight wanderings.

Just something to think about next time you are on the island!

Sleep well.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

It Was a Dark & Spooky Night

There were 6 middle-school-age boys on my ghost walk last night (the girls were off-island on a scouting trip). They looked over their shoulders when I told them about the ghost of Old Diver, and they listened intently when I related how Alice O'Neal had been buried alive.

But the best part of all was when we stopped on Howard Street where the former Methodist Episcopal Church, South had once stood. It was dark and quiet. I told them how my great aunt Lorena had been buried in the church yard in 1897. Three years later she was dug up and moved, and the coffin had been opened..........

It was quiet. Earlier the boys had been eager to move along. Now they just stood still, unwilling to continue down the moonlit lane, afraid they might encounter Lorena's wandering ghost.

Here's hoping your Halloween weekend is just as creepy!

Friday, October 29, 2004


My evening walk on the beach yesterday after work was wonderful. It was great to breathe the salt air and feel the sand between my toes. (I did miss the colorful trees in the midwest, however, and wished Lou Ann could have joined me for my walk along the surf.)

Tonight I'll give a ghost/history walk for our local youth group (6th - 8th grades). It will be a shorter version than usual, but I hope the stories will send chills down their spines. There's the ghost of Old Diver, the woman who was buried alive, the ghostly casket that floats along the lane, the murder of 1861, and Aunt Lorena who was dug up only three years after her death (and who now wanders up and down Howard Street in here moldy grave clothes!).

Hope you enjoy Halloween whereever you are.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Home Again

The weather here is fantastic! Sunshine and temps in the low 70's. What a great day to be outdoors.

I got home last evening, just in time to watch the stars emerge as the moon slid behind the shadow of the earth. A truly magnificent display.

My trip to the midwest was super. Fall colors were outstanding, especially in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. On Ocracoke only the poison ivy turning yellow & red lets us know it's fall.

I had accompanied Ocracoke's Molasses Creek Band to the first Decatur, Indiana, storytelling festival. Along with Barbara McBride-Smith & David Novak, nationally acclaimed storytellers, and Lou Ann Homan, outstanding storyteller & show organizer, I shared island stories and conducted a workshop on collecting community and family stories. We all had a wonderful time. Now it's time to enjoy the last few weeks of a glorious island fall.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Last Post for About Two Weeks

I will be off-island on another fall trip, so look for our next journal entry in about two weeks. Amy & David will be looking after my apartment, but they've declined my request to keep the journal up to date!

This seems to be "Birthday Weekend" on Ocracoke. Last night Katy Mitchell celebrated her 16th birthday at an inter-generational party and pot luck dinner at Deepwater Theater. We enjoyed lots of wonderful food, fun conversation, and, as a special treat, several budding young musicians entertained us on guitars and drums.

This afternoon Steve Harris, manager of the Pub, celebrates his 40th birthday, and this evening island native and Ocracoke park ranger, Kenny Ballance, will join with most of the island community to celebrate his 50th birthday.

And who asked "What is there to do on the island?"?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Wreck of the "Pioneer"

Yesterday I got so busy running electric wires at the house I'm rehabilitating that I forgot to publish this note on my daily journal:

"One hundred and fifteen years ago, on this date [October 14, 1889], the steamer, "Pioneer" wrecked on Ocracoke's beach. It was the last wooden steam vessel seen in the area, and it's cargo of general merchandise washed through the village. You can read about islanders wading in the tidewater collecting all manner of goods, and about my great-grandfather and the cask of whiskey, by clicking here:"

Today [October 15] is gray and overcast with a chance of thunderstorms.

Roy Parsons

Ocracoke native, Roy Parsons, is 83 years old and a beloved island "character." He performs regularly on guitar & harmonica at the Wednesday night Ocracoke Opry. He helps his wife, Elizabeth, at their shop, "Pamlico Gifts," down point just past the lighthouse. He builds boat models (schooners, trawlers, sloops, etc.). Roy tells stories -- quirky, funny stories. He loves poems and often speaks in rhyme. His eyes sparkle, and he smiles easily. You can often spot Roy peddaling his bicycle along Highway 12.

A Journal reader recently posted the following message:

"I met Roy and Elizabeth in October after hearing him at the Ocrafolk Opry, and Roy is making a boat for me. I took photos of him and have created a web site that tells a little about him. The best thing about his model boats is that he knows the boat he is building, and he can tell you a story about it. Roy is a real Ocracoke treasure!"

You can view the web page here:

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

58 Degrees

It was dark and chilly when I walked to my outdoor shower this morning. Orion's belt was sparkling high above the trees and the early morning air was brisk & invigorating.

In a few minutes I'll walk the 100 feet to the old house we're rehabilitating and do a little electrical wiring. Then I'll be back to the Village Craftsmen by 9:00. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 70's by noon, so it will be a pleasant day to work on the house again this afternoon. Might even slip away to the beach later on.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Autumn Beckons

I woke up this morning to a cool October breeze. I even pulled the quilt over my shoulders! But the air quickly warmed up into the 70's for another delightful island day.

All day long I seemed to be running back and forth between the shop and the rehabilitation project. While I was gone, and in the last few days, there has been quite a bit of activity at the house -- lots of new structural members on the north side of the house, a new bathroom addition on the south side, restored windows installed, new wooden replacement siding, heating & air conditioning ducts added, etc. I'll post some photos later.

Ocracoke is gearing up for a new fall celebration, "Village Days," November 12 & 13. You can read all about it here: (This is an Adobe Acrobat "pdf" file and it might take a little longer than normal to load, so be patient.)

If you can get away for that weekend come on down and join us. There will be lots of fun things to do, island history to enjoy, and other special events.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Back Home

I returned home a couple of days ago to the most gorgeous weather imaginable. Sunny days in the low 70's & cool nights. Not many folks visiting right now. But we islanders are enjoying every minute of it.

Yesterday was the big celebration for Audrey Penn's latest novel, "Mystery at Blackbeard's Cove," an adventure novel for youth that is set on the island. The get-together drew crowds all day long for the book signing and party afterwards. Look for the book on your next visit to Ocracoke. I'm proud to say that my pen & ink drawings were used at each chapter heading.

As beautiful as the island is this time of year, it's always a pleasure to travel a bit, especially in the mountains in October. Lou Ann and I enjoyed visiting my three grandchildren in western NC, listened to master tellers at the Storytelling Festival in east Tennessee, hiked to the top of Mt. LeConte (6,593' tall) near Gatlinburg, and soaked in the sights and smells of Fall. It was wonderful.

Now that I'm back home, I think I'll take a walk on the beach and re-acquaint myself with the blue-green Atlantic Ocean. Should be perfect for swimming. This afternoon there's an "October Birthdays" potluck at Rob & Sundae's. I'll be back for that.

I hope you're having great weather where you are!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Last Journal Entry for About 2 Weeks

I've traded houses with friends in the mountains of NC, so I will be gone for about two weeks. I will also visit my son and his family (I have three beautiful grandchildren near Asheville), and see my good friend Lou Ann.

We will drive over to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, TN, and then head for the mountains of east Tennessee. We'll hike a couple of days to Mt. LeConte near Gatlinburg and then go back to our friends' home for a few days.

So, we'll be without a daily journal until I return home. (Friends staying at my home on Ocracoke declined to write journal entries.) I'm sorry I won't be here to provide a report on hurricane Jeanne, but given it's current track I don't expect much more than rain. Actually it's been beautiful on the island all week. Cool and clear, no bugs, and just delightful.

Please check back in a couple of weeks for more news from Ocracoke.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Lachlan Photos

At the risk of being one of those grandparents who can't resist showing photos of his grand-younguns, I'll bow to pressure from folks who have asked to see more recent pictures of Lachlan. He is now 7 weeks old. I hope you enjoy them.

(To view a larger image, click here.)

To view a larger image, click here.)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Old Diver, Old Diver, What Do You Say?

On this date in 1913 Augustus Abner McQuire, a diver on board a Norwegian vessel, died in an accident at sea off of the Outer Banks. He was buried on Ocracoke. Ever since, islanders have periodically reported seeing his ghost (in full diving gear) wandering slowly through the old Howard and British cemeteries.

You can read the full story here:

Next time you're on the island walk up British Cemetery Road after dark and look for Old Diver's ghost yourself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's Pretty Some Today

Ocockers use the word "some" in a very distinctive way. It means "very" but is used after (not before) an adjective, and is usually (but not always) employed with one or two syllable words. So an Ococker would probably say that he was "cold some," not "very cold." Each word is given equal emphasis (unlike the more common word "lonesome"). Expressions such as "tired some," "fussy some," and "confused some" are common on the island. Occasionally you might even hear something like "Dey Jeeminny Criminny, that's complicated some, that is."

So, now you'll understand me when I say that today, like yesterday, is pretty some. That it is, Bucky!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Bluest Blue

Today is the perfect day. Temperatures in the low 70's, a mild breeze, sunshine, and sky of the bluest blue. It's a day to rejoice in being alive, just drinking in this wonderful weather.

Lots of little details took up my time today, but mostly I was outside on my bike. Went to the bank and the post office, checked on the progress of my house rehabilitation, visited with friends and neighbors, and examined the old house "down point" where we're getting windows and floor boards. The house project is moving right along. You can read the latest report here:

Monday, September 20, 2004

Dental Appointment & Homemade Soup

I left this morning at 7:30 to catch the 8:00 ferry. My dental appointment wasn't until 11:30 in Nags Head, but I had a few errards to run on the way up. I just got home at 5:30 this evening. It was a long day, but it was overcast and cool, so the drive was tolerable.

The best part was that no sooner had I stepped into my house when my neighbor brought over a plate full of ham and a large jar of homemade vegetable soup. What a nice surprise!

Oh yeah, no cavities. So I won't have to go back up for six more months. That was a nice surprise too.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Ahoy there me heartys.

Now listen up you scurvy dogs! Today is "Talk Like a Pirate Day" and you'll be paying the King's ransom (so to speak) if ye pass up this opportunity to impress your fair-haired beauty with pirate talk. (If you're a lass yourself, keep in mind ole Anne Bonney and Mary Reed, some of the fiercest lady pirates ever to sail the seven seas.)

You land lubbers might need a bit of instruction, but it's really not so difficult. A tankard of grog should help, for sure. Just step up to the scuttlebutt and lend an ear. In no time at all your fellow buccaneers will help you learn the lingo. Or, if all else fails, check out the official "Talk Like a Pirate Day" web site:

Avast now, you bilge rats. There's no time to loose, or ye might end up keel-hauled just off Teach's Hole!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

It Feels Like Winter

You never know what to expect here. Yesterday the heat and humidity were almost oppressive. It was breezy, but hot. By this morning a cold front had moved through and all day it's been downright chilly. And very windy. I guess it's the eastern bands of the remnants of Ivan.

I think I'll go sit on the front porch and welcome in the evening. Maybe I'll even play a few tunes on my harmonica. Right now it seems like the perfect way to end the day.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hurricanes & Babies

Everyone on Ocracoke is concerned for all of the folks who bore the brunt of Ivan's wrath, and we hope that Jeanne has minimal impact on the East Coast. This week seems to be a favorite of tropical storms & babies. The hurricane of 1944 battered Ocracoke on Sept. 14, which is also my son Stefen's & his wife, Snee's birthday.

The storm of 1933 hit the island on this date, Sept 16, 71 years ago, with winds of 120 mph. Today is also the birthdate of my very good friend Lou Ann's first grandchild, Jonah. Congratulations! I understand that baby, mama, and papa (and Lou Ann, or should I say "Granny"?) are doing fine. We wish them all well.

Tomorrow is my 3rd grandchild's birthday (Eliza will be 4 years old), and Saturday, Sept. 18 is the one year anniversay of hurricane Isabel.

Let's hope that hurricanes will soon be over for this season.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Ocrafolk Opry

I just got back from an Opry show at Deepwater Theater on Schoolhouse Road. As usual it was a wonderful show, full of outstanding local talent. We were entertained by Martin Garrish (a terrific guitarist), Marcie & Lou (also known as "Coyote"), budding musician Aaron Caswell, old-timer Roy Parsons, several others, and, of course, Ocracoke's own Molasses Creek (Gary Mitchell, Kitty Mitchell, Katy Mitchell, & Fiddler Dave Tweedie).

Be sure to put the Opry on your "schedule" next time you're on the island. Shows are every Tuesday evening at 8 o'clock all summer long (and into the Fall, through October). Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Sixty Years Ago

On this date in 1944 Ocracoke endured one of the worst hurricanes to hit the island. Winds were over 100 mph with 14 foot tides. The island was completely under water. Six houses were demolished. If I remember correctly what the "old-timers" have told me, only seven houses were spared the flood waters.

In contrast, today is another fine day, even if overcast with a light breeze. Of course, we're all hoping that Ocracoke's brush with tropical storms is over for this season.

Monday, September 13, 2004

A Day for Rejoicing

Some would say today is just an ordinary day....sunny, breezy, cooler than it has been.....a quintessential fall day. I guess it's enough to rejoice about though. It's the perfect day to work or play outside. So I suppose I'll take a walk on the beach later this afternoon. Yesterday the waves were big and powerful, but the current was slight. I'm hoping the water will be at least as inviting today.

We're hoping you are having a wonderful day, as well. All of us on Ocracoke are concerned for the folks in Ivan's path, and we're watching and hoping that this storm ends its rampage before it causes any more major damage.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

One More Question

Ocracoke is often known for what we do NOT have. The list isn't quite as long as it once was, but it's still pretty impressive. Among other things, we don't have

Traffic lights
Movie theater
Fast food restaurants
Chain stores
Shoe store
Racoons & Possums
Squirrels (OK cross that one out!)

We do have squirrels now. For about two years we've had squirrels. I won't name names, but SOMEONE on the island let loose two squirrels. So now they're running all over the village. Which obviously prompted our 7th reader question:

"I've heard on the grapevine that you have an aversion to squirrels. Did you have a nasty experience as a wee lad, or did they perhaps get into your moonshine one time?"

Sqirrels are actually cute. Of course, they are basically just little furry rodents with bushy tails, but they are cute. I must admit. But now we'll never get rid of them. They're kind of like fast food restaurants. We don't have any (and don't want any!), but if they ever gain a foothold they'll probably be here to stay.

So I say, take the squirrels as a warning and a metaphor, especially when they start invading attics and out buildings. We're best off without the invasions -- whether it be squirrels or fast food restaurants. But at least the squirrels are cute!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Sometimes You Just Gotta Work

No beach walk for me today....but yesterday was terrific, in spite of the wind. The ocean was not quite wild looking, but almost. The waves were big and full of white water. I entered the water tentatively, thinking the current would be strong. I was mistaken. It was warm and inviting. Maybe not perfect, but quite pleasant. one in sight in either direction! Almost like Ocracoke used to be. Not a bad place to live, especially in 2004, even if I've got to work now and then.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Creekers & Pointers

Our sixth reader question is:

"Why was the name of Ammunition Dump Road changed? Names such as this reflect the history of the island......Also, where exactly is "down point" vs "the point"? And where exactly did (do) the "creekers'" live vs the "pointers"?"

Place names & street names often naturally change over time like so many other things. In the late 1950's a man named Harcum (I believe his first name was Lloyd, but everyone just called him Harcum) came to Ocracoke from Norfolk, Virginia. He purchased from Ocraacoke native Maurice Ballance the building that is now the Variety Store. Maurice had put the building up several years before as a dance hall. Harcum turned it into a furniture store.

Whether or not he also sold groceries and general merchandise I can't recall, but Harcum eventually sold the building to Henry Rogers who made it into a grocery store. Harcum had also purchased & developed property along the old one-lane concrete WWII Navy Ammunition Dump Road (a portion of Ocracoke's first paved road, & directly across from the Fire Hall). At that time he renamed the road Sunset Drive. Although locals still refer to the road as Ammunition Dump Road, the official street name is now Sunset Drive.

Of course, the name Ammunition Dump Road dates only to the mid-1940's. Prior to that time this road was actually an extension of the Point Road (now renamed Lighthouse Road). This seems to have been the very first thoroughfare on the island, running from Springer's Point (formerly Howard's Point), past the lighthouse, along the right hand side of the schoolhouse, up Ammunition Dump Road, past the O'Neal family cemetery, along a high ridge near the Sound, and thence all the way to Hatteras Inlet.

Creekers live "'round creek" or on the north side of Cockle Creek (renamed Silver Lake in the late 1930's, but still referred to as "The Creek" by Ocracokers). Pointers live "down point" or on the south side of Silver Lake. The Point is Springer's Point, near where Blackbeard was killed, and where some of the very first dwellings in the village were located. The Point is currently uninhabited and is a wooded area now mostly owned by the NC Coastal Land Trust.

To really understand the difference between Creekers and Pointers (to say nothing of Trenters, Cat Ridgers, or Nubbins Ridgers) you need to understand about the two guts. You can read about them here: I hope this helps (and is not too confusing!).

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Cloudy & Rainy

It's been cloudy for days; however we've had little rain until this afternoon. Just a couple of brief showers today, but then it poured. The streets were full of big puddles this evening as I took my daily 2 mile walk. There are still tree frogs around; I could hear them croaking in the low spots along the road.

And work stopped on my roof this afternoon. Luckily the house is protected from leaks. Now we'll just have to let it dry off before shingling the porch roofs.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ocracoke & the Arts

Our fifth reader question about Ocracoke is:

"I'm wondering when Ocracoke became a hub of sorts for Fine Arts Craftsmanship? It must be a far stretch from its earlier days when mere survival would have been the name of the game. Were there any fine artists or craftsman in the early days? How about in that Howard family?"

Ocracoke has always had a number of fine craftsmen, but not exactly like we have today. Traditionally, the handcrafts associated with the island were related to everyday life. These included house carpentry, boat building, quilting, sewing, and decoy carving. These, in turn, often spawned related crafts such as furniture making and cabinetry, model boat building, and decorative bird carving.

My grandfather and father, for example, were part-time boat builders. My father also was an excellent craftsman. He has made beautiful ship's wheels, platform rockers, and other furniture. He also occasionally made rope boat fenders and did other knot-work, as did many of the older men. Like most island women, my grandmother sewed quilts. My Aunt Tressie make quite a few slat bonnets which were used to keep the sun at bay while gardening or otherwise working outdoors.

Music was also an important part of Ocracoke's social life. Fiddlers, quitarists, banjo players, and triangle players turned out for the weekly square dances, or just sat on front porches or in parlors entertaining family and friends.

With its spectacular natural beauty and picturesque village, Ocracoke has, not surprisingly, been a favorite of artists for many decades. Interestingly, Ocracoke had a small "artists' colony" that flourished for a couple of summers in the late 1930's. This is a fascinating, but little-known, story that I will address in a future monthly newsletter.

However, I think it's fair to say that the early 1970's probably ushered in the current proliferation of artists and craftsmen who have come to Ocracoke to open shops and studios. Today we have woodworkers, fine artists, musicians, glass workers, jewelers, blacksmiths, carvers, and other craftsmen living and working on the island.

It all makes for a wonderfully creative environment. Thanks for asking.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Brunch Potluck

Today is Caroline Temple's 6th birthday. But yesterday her parents (Sundae & Rob, captain of the schooner Windfall) celebrated with a potluck brunch for friends and neighbors. It was also Frank Phelp's last day before returning to Washington, NC. (Frank was Capt. Rob's mate on the Windfall this summer.) So it was also a good opportunity to bid him farewell until we see him again.

We ate egg & artichoke casseroles, bread pudding, broccoli dishes, beans, fig cake, and much more. It was quite a feast....and Caroline is quite a cutie!

Sundae had a postcard on her refrigerator with the message "How to Build Community." One of the suggestions is "Have Pot Lucks." As I read down the list I realized that many of us on Ocracoke are committed to all of the suggestions (e.g. "Sing Together," "Greet People," "Put up a Swing," & many others). I guess that's why we have such a strong sense of community on the island.

I have contacted the creators of the list and hope they will give me permission to publish the entire text sometime. In the meanwhile, why not plan a pot luck for your neighborhood? They are great for building and maintaining community.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Rough Seas & Question #4

The beach is beautiful today. Blue skies and puffy white clouds, with just a light breeze. But the ocean is formidable. Large waves, foamig white, and spreading high up onto the beach, with a strong current. Threat of rip currents is high so it was a morning to walk, look for shells, and just wade.

On another subject, our fourth reader question is:

"I first went to Ocracoke as a child of 9 in 1975.Recently in 2000 and 2001 I came back for vacations and was somewhat taken aback by the development that has occured there.Still a beautiful place,but the density of new housing concerns me,which brings me to my question.Are there any housing density restrictions in place? If not are there any on the horizon? signed,Kevin from Atlanta"

Ocracoke has a development ordinance. I don't have the details in front of me, but there are height & setback restrictions, as well as minimum lot size requirements and other regulations. Also builders must conform to local and state building codes as well as adhere to CAMA (Coastal Area Management Act) and other environmental regulations.

Of course, Ocracoke has always been a very independent place, so it has been difficult to draft a development ordinance with "teeth." There are so many competing influences here, and a strong local distrust of rules and regulations that often benefit the rich and powerful rather than the native islanders. As you all know, Ocracoke village is small and well defined. As a result, development pressure can be strong, especially with escalating property values. The issue is very complex and we wish there were an easy answer.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Ocracoke Peninsula

Happy Labor Day Weekend! The weather is absolutely beautiful today. Temperature is about 79 degrees under sunny skies. But the village is so quiet. If you live close enough, come on out for a terrific holiday. It's a great time to relax and enjoy the peace of Ocracoke.

On another topic, our 3rd question from a reader is:

"I recently went on one of your ghost and history walks (which by the way, was wonderful!) this summer. I have been trying to re-create some of the stories, but I wondered if you could (in a few words, of course) share with your readers your prediction on Ocracoke becoming a cape. Thanks again for all your stories."

And I thank you for your kind words.

According to Alton Ballance in his excellent book, "Ocracokers," East Carolina University geologist Stan Riggs maintains that "Ocracoke Village is an old 'chunk' of island, similar to Roanoke Island, that has existed in its present location longer than the barrier island which migrated up to it."

Ballance explains that "when the beach finally reached what is now the village [in a process of rising sea level that may have begun 17,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age], it [the "sandy banks"] 'bumped into it [the area of the village]' and got 'hung up,' forming basically the present-day shape of Ocracoke."

He goes on to show that "capes have formed as migrating barrier islands bumped into chunks of old islands." He points out that Cape Hatteras is an ancient island "being wrapped by a migrating barrier island," and that "Ocracoke Village, as well, is about to be wrapped by the same process."

All of this speculation is confirmed by Jonathan Price, who, in 1795 published "A Description of Occacock Inlet." He states that "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank. It continues to have its former appearance from the sea; the green trees, that cover it, strikingly distinguishing it from the sandy bank to which it has been joined. Its length is three miles, and its breadth two and one half."

Clearly, Price uses the term Occacock to refer to the area which corresponds to the present day village of Ocracoke (about three miles long by two and a half miles wide). Formerly an "inside island," Ocracoke is now connected to the "sandy banks" and has become a peninsula.

Of course, today we consider the entire length of the island (between Hatteras and Ocracoke Inlets), including the village area, "Ocracoke Island." Eventually, it seems, Ocracoke village will become a shoal after it is left behind as the sandy barrier islands wrap around it and migrate further west, but I don't expect this to happen anytime soon!

I hope this helps, and thanks for asking.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Beautiful Weather

Skies are clear and the temperature is 78 degrees. A truly wonderful day. We are so lucky that hurricane Frances is not heading in our direction, although we are concerned for all the folks on the east coast of Florida.

On this date in 1913 the George W. Wells, one of the largest schooners ever built, wrecked on Ocracoke's beach in a heavy gale. This disaster resulted in one of the most daring and courageous rescues ever recorded.

According to an article in "The Story of Ocracoke Island" "a strong tide was sweeping the beach and was so deep that before the rescue crew had gone two miles the water was washing into the pony carts and the horses balked and refused to pull them any farther. So the surfmen hitched themselves to the pony carts and dragged the carts with their heavy equipment for six miles along lthe coast in water that was up to their waists, to the scene of the grounded ship."

Exhausted, working in waist deep water and in hurricane force winds, the Coast Guardsmen succeeded in rescuing all 16 crewmen and 5 passengers.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

School Question

Our second question is:

"How many children attend the school each year and how many teachers are there? How big was the graduating class? Do they have any of the extra curricular activities or special education classes like the larger schools?"

Ocracoke is the smallest school in North Carolina, with 101 students this school year (grades K - 12). The senior class will have 7 students. I just learned that the state has recently allocated one teacher per grade level for K - 8th grade. In the past Ocracoke classes were often combined. Now, with the addition of four new teachers, combined classrooms will be a thing of the past. The school has 19 teachers and a total of 29 on the staff.

You no doubt have seen t-shirts printed with the names of all the graduating seniors from a particular school. Ocracoke has a t-shirt printed with the names of every person who has ever graduated from the school!

Ocracoke school will be adding some new classes this year, as well as classes that have not been offered for a while (e.g. botany and local history). In addition, students can take advantage of classes taught on line. Interestingly, Ocracoke is the first school on the East Coast to offer surfing as an elective.

You can read more about Ocracoke School here:

To ask a question just click on the "Comments" link below.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Rainy Day Question

Yesterday I offered to answer your questions about Ocracoke (if I can).

The first question is "What percentage of the island population is made up of Ocokers as opposed to move ins? Do you have a rough estimate?"

I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that about half of the current population consists of folks who have a long family history of living on the island. One of the old names for the island was Ocock. Thus the term "Ocockers," which is generally used to mean someone from an historical Ocracoke family who was born and raised on the island.

Until about 50 years ago, there were only a small handful of folks who had moved here from elsewhere. Often they were a little eccentric. Actually, they usually fit right in and helped make this quite a colorful place.

Look for an answer to tomorrow's question about the Ocracoke School. And if you have another question just post it here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Ocracoke....

......but didn't know who to ask!

For a limited time I am offering to answer (if I can, or am willing!) your questions about the island. Surely, you've had questions but didn't know where to go to get answers. History, people, wildlife, politics, geology........ I won't always know the answers, of course, but I'll try to find out for you if I don't know.

Just post a comment with your question and I'll answer them in the order I receive them. If I get too many questions I'll just call a halt to it.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Monday, August 30, 2004

A Very Practical Note

If you've sent us an email message in the last few days and are expecting a reply, please have patience. Our web site server (through whom we get our messages) has had technical difficulties and our messages have been cached.. We have not received any mail except internet orders (those we can access through a secure web site hosted by our shopping cart provider). Tech support assures us that all messages will be delivered soon.

Ocracoke has been breezy today, but there's been no rain since early morning. It is too windy to enjoy the beach, however, so I took my daily walk in the village with my daughter Amy and grandson Lachlan. Everyone agrees he is a cutie. Amy, David, and Lachlan are doing just great. And so is Opa.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Random Island News

Schools are mostly back in session now and the island is getting quieter. This afternoon I found a stretch of beach and didn't see a soul for the entire time I was there. I walked and swam and lay in the sun. The clouds were massive and as white as newly fallen snow. It was heaven!

No word yet about the search for the Civil War era submarine, Alligator. I believe the Navy research ship leaves soon. But we'll let you know if we hear any exciting news.

Tropical storms and hurricanes are in the news again. At this point it doesn't look like they'll be a threat to Ocracoke, but we're watching carefully. In the meanwhile we're just enjoying a gorgeous end of summer and looking forward to one of the best seasons of all, Fall.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hunting for the Alligator

No, not the Florida kind. This Alligator is green and made of metal. The US Navy's very first submarine was launched May 1, 1862. It was 47' long and 4' 8" at the beam. Invented by Brutus de Villeroi, it first employed 22 crewmen with oars, but was later converted to a screw propeller for propulsion.

After several aborted missions the Aligator was bound for South Carolina to participate in the capture of Charleston harbor. On April 2, 1863, during a fierce storm off Cape Hatteras, the submarine, which was being towed by the USS Sumpter, was cut adrift to prevent the sinking of the Sumpter.

Early this week the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (on their 108' "Afloat Lab") docked in Silver Lake harbor. In conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration they have launched a search for the lost Alligator.

We've heard no word yet about the mission, but you can follow their progress here:

Friday, August 27, 2004

Another Beautiful End-of-Summer Day

I love to go to the beach in late August, September, and early October. It's the best time for lots of reasons. The water is still delightfully warm, the beach isn't nearly as crowded (compared to so many other beaches, I guess it never is crowded), and as the air cools a little, it's not so hot, either. Today I found a "pool." The water was only about chest deep, but it was deep enough to swim. The waves were gentle, but fun. I swam, floated, dived under the waves, and just let the peacefulness sink in (no one was anywhere near me). The ocean is a great refresher and rejuvenator. There is no place like it.On a practical note -- I have published a couple of comments on the daily journal entry for August 21, 2004. I didn't have time to respond right away because there's been a lot going on for me lately. (My daughter, Amy, stopped working to care for her new baby, and my good friend, Lou Ann, stopped working to return to her teaching job, so guess who is filling in. Also, the old house rehabilitation project is moving right along, and, although I'm not pounding nails, it's still a lot to think about.). The comments are about Mike Piland, Ocracoke postmaster, and my writing style. You can read the comments here:

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sleeping Easier

Jim O'Brien and his crew have been doing a fantastic job this week rehabilitating my grandparents' home. For those of you who have been wondering about the progress of this project, you can read the latest news at

Before the end of the work day today the rear roofs were structurally sound, sheathed, tarpapered, and covered with additional material to prevent leaks. Thunderstorms and rain squalls were threatening all afternoon.

Work should begin on the front roofs next week, and, if the weather cooperates, we're hoping to have all of the roofs shingled by the end of next week. It is a very exciting project, especially imagining the home full of life and love and family and friends.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Something's Got to Give

What gorgeous weather we've been having! After work today (I worked from 9 - 3:30) I headed directly to the beach. The tide was high and the waves and currents were strong, but the water was warm and inviting. I stayed about an hour, then came home to fix my supper. Afterwards I visited my old house to see what the carpenters had done for the day. Then I walked across the lane to see cousin Blanche. She entertained me for almost 2 hours about Ocracoke's old-time childhood games, storms, shipwrecks, and island history.

I'm back home again -- with dirty dishes to wash, laundry to do, emails to answer, bills to pay, floors to vacuum, and photos to upload to our web site. Maybe I'll just make a phone call to Lou Ann, instead, and then go to bed! Like Alonzo Howard used to say, "If work interferes with pleasure, give up work."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A Beautiful Day at the Beach

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the beach today......but yesterday and the day before were just wonderful. There was a slight breeze, and it was warm. The sun was shining (at least in the afternoon) and the waves were gentle. No undertow and no rip currents. Just rolling waves and breakers made to slide under and come back up on the other side. It was even perfect for swimming. What more could I ask for? Well, it would have been ever so much nicer if Lou Ann were back on the island! She loves the ocean at least as much as I do. So I'll just appreciate this special place as much as possible until she comes back at another time.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The "Victoria S"

It's partly cloudy today with a light breeze. No signs of any storms and we're glad of that. The situation was similar 79 years ago to the day when the schooner "Victoria S" wrecked on Ocracoke beach (the same vessel that washed farther up the beach on this same date in 1933 during a fierce hurricane).

My father and grandfather saw this ship making peculiar maneuvers offshore the evening before. My grandfather speculated that the captain was just waiting until nightfall to "run her aground" for the insurance money. Sure enough the "Victoria S" wrecked that night.

1933 Hurricane

One of the worst storms to hit Ocracoke was on August 22 & 23, 1933. Strong northeast winds brought water knee deep into the village. The hull of the "Victoria S" (wrecked in 1925) washed up on the beach. Docks were swept away and cottages damaged. Most small boats in the harbor were sunk or "smashed up," and debris was scattered all over the island.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ocracoke Post Office

The Post Office has long been at the center of community life on the island. In the first half of the 20th century, before ferries and paved roads, the mailboat was Ocracoke's primary link to the outside world. The trip across the sound took about 4 hours. Islanders would gather at the mailboat dock in late afternoon waiting for letters, packages, relatives, and news from the mainland. It was the perfect time to visit with neighbors, share stories, and hear what was going on around the village.

The first Post Office was established on Ocracoke on this date in 1840. William H. Howard was appointed postmaster. Today, a modern Post Office is located at the edge of town, not along the harbor as in years past. People come and go throughout the day and the pace is a bit quicker, but the Post Office, with its bulletin board full of notices, is still an important center for news and information.

Friday, August 20, 2004

117 Years Ago

Today the weather has been hot, but beautiful, with clear skies, unlike this date in 1887 when a "fresh gale" brought a "full rough tide" with "driving rain" and "fearful sea running over the beach." This was according to my great-grandfather's report from the US Life Saving Station at Hatteras Inlet.

As a result of the stormy weather, two schooners (the "Cherybin" & the "A.J. Marine") both wrecked at Hatteras Inlet on this date in 1887. Fortunately, no lives were lost or cargo damaged. Both boats were refloated relatively undamaged.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Display Problems

We're sorry about our journal's display problems. Apparently the "Blogger" folks who host the journal have made some internal changes that are incompatible with our custom design. We understand that they are working on trying to fix the problem. In the meanwhile the journal and all of our posts is still available, though just in black & white.

Portsmouth Island Trivia

Portsmouth village, just across Ocracoke Inlet, was at one time a thriving community. Census records indicate the following population figures:



Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A Gorgeous Day!

Today has been sunny and clear with temperatures in the low 80's and a light breeze. A perfect day for working outdoors, or taking a stroll on the beach. The island is relatively quiet since many North Carolina schools are already in session. If you can get away, come on out to the island and enjoy our beautiful weather.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The August Storm of 1899

One of the worst storms to pummel Ocracoke Island was on August 16, 1899. Winds reached at least 120 miles per hour. I neglected to mention this yesterday because work on my grandparents' home overshadowed it. By the way, I will be posting photos of the old house rehabilitation on a fairly regular basis here: There's not much to show yet, but I think work will be progressing rather quickly real soon.

Back to the 1899 storm......Islanders have a long tradition of teasing one another and laughing at each other's mistakes. An Ocracoker was heard to say years ago, "Now didn't that old August storm strike the island sometime in September?"

Monday, August 16, 2004


This morning as I was in my outdoor shower I heard the distinctive sounds of contractors and carpenters beginning work on the historic rehabilitation of my grandparents' home. I was elated to know they were actually starting the project after so many delays.

And immediately my elation was mixed with fear. Will everything go well? Will we be able to preserve as much of the house as we are hoping? How much will it cost? Will we have to contend with more hurricanes before it is completed?

And then I was saddened to remember that Lou Ann left yesterday to start another year of teaching in Indiana, and she was so hoping to see this project get underway. But I know she will be back for an off-season visit before too long. And in the days to come I will post a few photos as the recostruction project progresses.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

A Practical Note

Although Ocracoke's state of emergency has been lifted and the island is again open to visitors, Village Craftsmen will remain closed today. We will reopen tomorrow, Monday, August 16, at 9:00 am.

All is well, and we hope to see you on the island soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

State of Emergency Lifted

Hurricane Charley has come and gone with little effect on Ocracoke. Winds picked up later this afternoon, but it's calm now and we've had only a few sprinkles. No flooding at all. Following is the latest official notice from Hyde County officials.

August 14, 2004

HYDE COUNTY, NC: Effective 5:00 am, Sunday, August 15, the State of Emergency and mandatory evacuation procedures put into place prior to Hurricane Charley’s arrival will be lifted for both Mainland Hyde County and Ocracoke Island.

Ferry service to Ocracoke, which was discontinued as the storm approached, will resume on August 15. Travelers who are planning to visit the island are reminded that they should make reservations for both the Cedar Island (800-856-0343) and Swan Quarter(800-773-1094) ferries. The Hatteras ferry does not require reservations. The NC Ferry Division can be reached at 800-BY-FERRY or

The Hyde County Chamber of Commerce can be reached at 888-493-3826. The latest information is also on-line at

Good News for Ocracoke

As of now tropical storm Charley seems to have bypassed Ocracoke. The day has been gray and overcast but hardly a drop of rain has fallen and there is only a light breeze. We feel very thankful to have been spared this time, while also sad for the folks who bore the brunt of this powerful storm.

We have not yet heard any word about lifting the state of emergency.

Hurricane Charley

At the moment, Ocracoke is quiet with hardly a breath of wind. We are hoping that hurricane Charley will pass us by with minimal impact. However, visitors have been evacuated and residents are watching and preparing for at least some effects as Charley moves north.

The following information was provided by Hyde County:

On Friday the Hyde County Emergency Mangagement Office issued a State of Emergency Proclamation and a mandatory evacuation order for Ocracoke Island, beginning at 5:00 pm.

Also, the National Park Service personnel at Cape Hatteras National Seashore notified the public that several of their facilities, including Ocracoke Campground would close at noon, August 13 due to predicted rainfall and flooding conditions. The campgrounds are not scheduled to reopen until the grounds have dried out.

Travelers who were planning to visit the county in the upcoming days should check with officials before beginning their trip. The NC Ferry Division can be reached at 800-BY-FERRY. The Hyde County Chamber of Commerce can be reached at 888-493-3826. The latest information is also on-line at

Friday, August 13, 2004

Remnants of Bonnie

It has been breezy today, with occasional rain showeres, some heavy. But blue skies are peeking through as well.

Everyone on the island is concerned for the folks on the west central Florida coast. We are hoping that hurricane Charley's punch is weaker than expected, and, of course, keeping an eye on his progress. Otherwise, island life is getting back to normal for most of us who were spared Alex's flood waters in our homes.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Tropical systems "Bonnie" & "Charley" are heading north it seems. At this time forcasters don't expect them to impact Ocracoke and the Outer Banks like Alex did. Nevertheless we're preparing for quite a bit of rain. And, as we all know, these storms can be unpredictable, so we'll keep a watchful eye on both.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Lachlan Wesley Photos

For all of our family members (and anyone else who is interested) I have published several more photos of our newest Tweedie/Howard baby, Lachlan Wesley (this is the correct spelling). Lachlan, Amy, and David (as well as all of the grandparents) are happy and content.

Just click on the photo or the link below the photo to see a larger image.

Click here to see a larger image of Lachlan.

Click here to see a larger image of Amy & Lachlan.

Click here to see a larger image of Pat, Steve, & Lachlan.

Click here to see a larger image of David & Lachlan.

Ocracoke Inlet

Although all other Outer Banks inlets have come and gone within recorded history, Ocracoke Inlet has remained continuously open. In maps drawn in 1584-1587 by John White, English explorer, he identified the inlet as Wokokon. The Raleigh expedition anchored at Wokokon at the end of June, 1585, on their way to Roanoke Island.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Night Sky

A number of years ago the National Park Service sponsored a single nighttime beach program during a total lunar eclipse. A knowledgeable astronomer was on hand to point out constellations and answer questions. As the earth's shadow covered the silvery moon those present began to gasp when the prominent white band of the Milky Way came into view. The astronomer made a special point of identifying this awesome feature of the night sky.

I remember wondering why he kept pointing and doing his best to make sure everyone was aware of the Milky Way. "Why, it's always out here, whenever the sky is dark," I thought. "All you have to do is look up into the sky to see it."

And then it occurred to me, "Most of these folks come from the city. Maybe they can't see the Milky Way whenever they want to."

Last night we walked out to the beach. The night was crystal clear and the stars were strewn across the heavens in extravagant numbers. We lay down on a blanket and searched the sky for shooting stars. Only a few were to be seen, but the Milky Way was painted across the dome of heaven in spectacular fashion. What an awesome sight!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Ocracoke Newsletters

We published another Ocracoke Newsletter on August 1, but our email notification process was aborted because of hurricane Alex. Also, we've recently had problems with AOL tagging our emails as "unsolicited" and not delivering them.

You can read our two most recent newsletters here:

The Search for Blackbeard's Skull (July 01, 2004),

A History of the Ocracoke Lighthouse (August 01, 2004),

We hope you enjoy them.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

More Cleanup

What an exhausting day! Outdoor electrical outlets to check for salt & corrosion, 3 window air conditioners to install (all of our ductwork under the building was destroyed by the flood waters), Howard Street to grade (again, flood waters contributed to huge potholes), bicycles, trash cans, picnic table, & boardwalks to hose down and clean off, flower pots to salvage (all the plants were killed by the salt water), etc., etc. There is still quite a lot to do. But I think we're ready to open Village Craftsmen in the morning! Couldn't have done it without Lou Ann's help.

Finally, it's time to take showers, order burgers from Howard's Pub, drink a cold beer, and enjoy a video.

Thanks to everyone who sent messages of concern and offers of assistance. It has been quite an ordeal, and we really appreciate all of your good thoughts.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Re-entry Saturday, August 07, 2004

OCRACOKE: Hyde County officials have reported that restrictions for entry onto Ocracoke Island will be lifted, effective at 6:00 am, Saturday, August 7, 2004.

Visitors to the island are reminded that they need reservations for the Swan Quarter and/or Cedar Island ferries. The Hatteras ferry does not require reservations. For more information, visit the NC Ferry Division website at or call 1-800-BY-FERRY. The Swan Quarter ferry may be reached at 1-800-773-1094. The Cedar Island ferry may be reached at 1-800-856-0343.

For information about the Cape Hatteras National Park Service Campground on Ocracoke, visit their website at or call 1-800-365-CAMP.

Alex Links

Many thanks to Warner Passanisi for passing along these Hurricane Alex Stories.... ... Avalon Fishing Pier, Kill Devil Hills, NC, live webcam;s=4;p=news;dm=ss;w=320 ... Howard's Pub ... FEMA will take closer look at Isabel flood-insurance claims

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Latest Information from Hyde County

Date: August 5, 2004



OCRACOKE: On Ocracoke, residents and business owners have begun cleaning up after Hurricane Alex. The August 3 storm left the island virtually covered in several feet of water. Several hundred vehicles were flooded along with numerous homes and buildings. No loss of life or serious injury has been reported.

Hyde County officials began a mandatory evacuation of all non-resident, non-property owners effective at 6:00 am, today, August 5, due to potential hazards to public health. This measure has been taken to give the island a chance to recover and make necessary repairs. The island is under a State of Emergency and travel to the island is restricted until further notice.

Tideland Electric Membership Corp. reports that full power was restored to the island by 10:25 pm on Wednesday, August 4. Tideland crews are to be commended for their fast recovery work, installing over 20 downed poles and lines in less than twelve hours!

Hyde Transit is providing transportation for evacuees arriving at the Swan Quarter Ferry terminal who need to rent a vehicle. Enterprise Rent A Car in Washington, NC is working with the Hyde County Chamber of Commerce to make sure they have sufficient cars to serve those in need.

Hyde Transit was also prepared to take evacuees who were awaiting family to pick them up, to the Mattamuskeet School campus where a staging area and shelter manned by the American Red Cross had been established. Reports indicate that no evacuees used that facility on Wednesday evening.

The Salvation Army is also on hand on Ocracoke with hot meals as it was reported than only two restaurants on the island were open for business. A second Army canteen had been set up to serve those at Mattamuskeet School.

Travelers who were planning to visit the island in the upcoming days should check with officials before beginning their trip. The NC Ferry Division can be reached at 800-BY-FERRY. The Hyde County Chamber of Commerce can be reached at 888-493-3826. Dean Burbage, Emergency Manager can be reached at the county offices at 252-926-4372. The latest available information is also on-line at .

Persons wishing to help island residents may make donations to the Hyde County Disaster Relief Fund at any branch of the East Carolina Bank, or by mail: c/o Hyde County CDC, PO Box 295, Swan Quarter, NC 27885.