Outer Banks Blogs

A Stormy School Trip, 1981

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 04:54
In the Spring of 1981 Ocracoke students in grades  3 - 4 made a field trip to Winston-Salem. They spent the first night at Reynolda House, the mansion built by R. J. Reynolds, where they enjoyed viewing art...and playing billiards, bowling, and racketball. The next day they toured Old Salem, then spent the night in Chapel Hill. In Chapel Hill they enjoyed lunch at the Rathskeller (sad to say, this popular eatery closed in 2007), then visited the Morehead Planetarium. That evening the students were treated to a magic show.

On the way home they stopped in Raleigh to tour the Museum of Natural History and the Old Capital Building.

As much as everyone enjoyed the tours and the sights, it is probably the ferry ride leaving Ocracoke that most of us remember best (I accompanied the group as a chaperone). This is Ray Waller's account, as published June 10, 1981, in the Ocracoke Island News:

"The trip started out badly. The ferry ride across to Swan Quarter was a little rough [definitely an understatement!, but then this was written by a native islander] due to a storm, and almost everyone got seasick. There were times when the boat rocked so much that the sky was all that could be seen out of one window while the water was all you could see from the other.... The children had hoped to have a picnic lunch on the way and had packed lunches, but this was made impossible due to the weather."

I spent most of my time helping one student or another to the bathroom, where the doors to the stalls were often swinging violently from one side to the other. In time, when there was nothing left in most of the student's (and most of the teacher's and chaperone's) stomachs, nearly everyone stretched out on the seats and fell asleep.

It was a memorable trip!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on  the Outer Banks. You can read the story here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

1957

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 09/01/2015 - 04:24
In the past I have written about the first paved road between Ocracoke Village and Hatteras Inlet. Eleven miles of what was to become NC Highway 12 was paved in 1957. The last three miles (at the north end of the island) was a single lane of WWII metal landing mats (with "pullovers" every half mile for passing oncoming vehicles). Unfortunately, I never had a good photograph of that early highway.

A few days ago my daughter, Amy, was given the following picture from the NPS archives via John Havel. The photo was taken by Verde Watson (1903-1978), first chief park naturalist at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, between 1955-1961.



















Please keep in mind that this road was a great improvement. Prior to 1957 travelers arriving on Frazier Peele's 3 or 4 car ferry had to drive on the beach (between high and low water marks) to get to the village. Getting to Ocracoke in those days was quite an adventure!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on  the Outer Banks. You can read the story here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Wool

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 05:19
Within living memory, Ocracoke Island supported a variety of free-ranging livestock. Not only horses, but also cattle, goats, and sheep roamed the island. Charles T. Williams, in his book The Kinnakeeter, writes about sheep and sheep penning on Hatteras Island. The situation on Ocracoke was similar, and I quote from Williams' account:

"Hundreds of sheep roamed this free range.... There were...large sheep pens and during the early days the word was passed 'sheep penning today' and everybody left their work and helped the sheep owners corral their sheep. [On Ocracoke the sheep pen was 'down below,' about midway of the island, so the day of sheep penning was announced days ahead. That gave everyone enough time to plan ahead, and to make their way to the pen, often by sail skiff.)

"This was the day to mark the lambs and shear the sheep. The wool was shipped to wool markets in Elizabeth City, or Norfolk, Virginia. The sheep owners reaped a handsome profit from the sale of their wool.

"Many families owned no sheep and had no wool. During the night, sheep roamed and nipped the tender leaves from low bushes and shrubbery, and would leave a large quantity of wool entangled in the shrubbery. In the early morning, the families that had no sheep would send their children through the woods picking wool from the bushes that the sheep had left during the night.

"Some older women owned old-fashioned spinning wheels. They would card and spin this wool into yarn thread on a fifty per cent basis."

Ocracoke Spinning Wheel at OPS museum













This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on  the Outer Banks. You can read the story here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Jim Baughm

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 04:34
A hand-made wooden cross rests on the altar in the sanctuary of the Ocracoke Methodist Church.  The cross was constructed by Homer Howard, and painted gold by his wife, Aliph.  The cross was made out of salvage from the ship on which island native, James Baughm Gaskill (1919-1942), served and lost his life. The cross stands today as a memorial to James Baughm Gaskill, 3rd mate in the  USS Maritime service.


















Jim Baughm's ship, the Caribsea, was torpedoed and sunk off shore by a German U-boat on March 11, 1942.  Shortly after the sinking, Christopher Farrow, James Baughm's cousin, found his  framed license cast up on the ocean beach. Later, the ship's nameplate and other debris washed up at his family's dock, at the old Pamlico Inn.   
Ship's Nameplate in NPS Visitors Center





Although Jim Baughm was lost at sea, and his body never recovered, his family erected a marker in the family cemetery behind the lighthouse.














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The epitaph is a quotation from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, "Crossing the Bar."

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,Too full for sound and foam,When that which drew from out the boundless deep,Turns again home.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on  the Outer Banks. You can read the story here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Watering Holes

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 04:56
Last month I mentioned the Outer Banks wild ponies. Visitors to the island often wonder how these small horses traditionally found water to drink. After all, there are no fresh water streams, ponds, or springs on Ocracoke. Besides, marsh ponies eat great quantities of salt marsh grass, so they need to drink water about every three hours.

Photo by Charlie F on Yelp













Sometimes, of course, rain puddles provide fresh water for the ponies. When that source of water is not available the horses have learned to dig drinking holes by pawing at the sand with their hooves. They tap into the rainwater runoff that is stored in a shallow "freshwater lens" that floats above brackish underground water.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on  the Outer Banks. You can read the story here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Darius Green and His Flying Machine

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 04:38
I just finished reading David McCullough's new book, The Wright Brothers. It is a fascinating account of two men who had intelligence, mechanical abilities, perseverance, and above all, vision. As we know, on December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright, from Dayton, Ohio, made the first ever piloted machine that took off under its own power, achieved full flight, continued forward with no loss of speed, and landed at a place as high as that from which it started. And they accomplished this remarkable feat, the beginning of the age of flight, at Kitty Hawk, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

McCoulough recounts the many 19th century scoffers who declared unequivocally that "man will never fly." And he quotes portions of an 1869 poem that ridicules the attempt to soar like the birds. I had never heard this delightfully comic poem. Below is the first stanza. For those interested I quote the entire poem at the end of this post. Enjoy!

Darius Greene and His Flying-Machine (1869) by  John Townsend Trowbridge, 1827-1916.

If ever there lived a Yankee lad,
Wise or otherwise, good or bad,
Who, seeing the birds fly, didn't jump
With flapping arms from stake or stump,
Or, spreading the tail
Of his coat for a sail,
Take a soaring leap from post or rail,
And wonder why
He couldn't fly,
And flap and flutter and wish and try -
If ever you knew a country dunce
Who didn't try that as often as once,
All I can say is, that's a sign
He never would do for a hero of mine.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on the Outer Banks. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm.

Darius Greene and His Flying-Machine (1869) by  John Townsend Trowbridge, 1827-1916.

If ever there lived a Yankee lad,
Wise or otherwise, good or bad,
Who, seeing the birds fly, didn't jump
With flapping arms from stake or stump,
Or, spreading the tail
Of his coat for a sail,
Take a soaring leap from post or rail,
And wonder why
He couldn't fly,
And flap and flutter and wish and try -
If ever you knew a country dunce
Who didn't try that as often as once,
All I can say is, that's a sign
He never would do for a hero of mine.

An aspiring genius was Darius Green;The son of a farmer, age fourteen;
His body was long and lank and lean -
Just right for flying, as will be seen;
He had two eyes as bright as a bean,
And a freckled nose that grew between,
A little awry - -for I must mention
That be had riveted his attention
Upon his wonderful invention,
Twisting his tongue as he twisted the strings,
And working his face as he worked the wings,
And with every turn of gimlet and screw
Turning and screwing his mouth round too,
Till his nose seemed bent
To catch the scent,
Around some corner, of new-baked pies,
And his wrinkled cheeks and his squinting yes
Grew puckered into a queer grimace,
That made him look very droll in the face,
And also very wise.
And wise he must have been, to do more
Than ever a genius did before,
Excepting Daedalus of yore
And his son Icarus, who wore
Upon their backs
Those wings of wax
He had read of in the old almanacs.
Darius was clearly of the opinion
That the air is also man's dominion,
And that, with paddle or fin or pinion,
We soon or late shall navigate
The azure as now we sail the sea.
The thing looks simple enough to me;
And if you doubt it,
Hear how Darius reasoned about it.
"The birds can fly an' why can't I?
Must we give in," says he with a grin,
"That the bluebird an' phoebe
Are smarter'n we be?
Jest fold our hands an' see the swaller
An' blackbird an' catbird beat us holler?
Doos the little chatterin,' sassy wren,
No bigger'n my thumb, know more than men?
Just show me that!
Ur prove 't the bat
Hez got more brains than's in my hat.
An' I'll back down, an' not till then!"
He argued further: "Nur I can't see
What's th' use o' wings to a bumblebee,
Fur to git a livin' with, more'n to me; —
Ain't my business
Important's his'n is?
That Icarus
Made a perty muss —
Him an' his daddy Daedalus
They might 'a' knowed wings made o' wax
Wouldn't stand sun-heat an' hard whacks.
I'll make mine o' luther,
Ur suthin' ur other."
And he said to himself, as he tinkered and planned:
"But I ain't goin' to show my hand
To mummies that never can understand
The fust idee that's big an' grand."
So he kept his secret from all the rest,
Safely buttoned within his vest;
And in the loft above the shed
Himself he locks, with thimble and thread
And wax and hammer and buckles and screws
And all such things as geniuses use; —
Two bats for patterns, curious fellows!
A charcoal-pot and a pair of bellows;
Some wire, and several old umbrellas;
A carriage-cover, for tail and wings;
A piece of harness; and straps and strings;
And a big strong box,
In which he locks
These and a hundred other things.
His grinning brothers, Reuben and Burke
And Nathan and Jotham and Solomon, lurk
Around the corner to see him work —
Sitting cross-legged, like a Turk,
Drawing the waxed-end through with a jerk,
And boring the holes with a comical quirk
Of his wise old head, and a knowing smirk.
But vainly they mounted each other's backs,
And poked through knot-holes and pried through cracks;
With wood from the pile and straw from the stacks
He plugged the knot-holes and caulked the cracks;
And a dipper of water, which one would think
He had brought up into the loft to drink
When he chanced to be dry,
Stood always nigh,
For Darius was sly!
And whenever at work he happened to spy
At chink or crevice a blinking eye.
He let the dipper of water fly.
"Take that! an' ef ever ye git a peep,
Guess ye'll ketch a weasel asleep!"
And he sings as he locks
His big strong box: —
"The weasel's head is small an' trim,
An' he is little an' long an' slim,
An' quick of motion an' nimble of limb
An' ef you'll be
Advised by me
Keep wide awake when ye're ketchin' him!"
So day after day
He stitched and tinkered and hammered away,
Till at last 'twas done —
The greatest invention under the sun!
"An' now," says Darius, "hooray fur some fun!"
'Twas the Fourth of July,
And the weather was dry,
And not a cloud was on all the sky,
Save a few light fleeces, which here and there,
Half mist, half air,
Like foam on the ocean went floating by
just as lovely a morning as ever was seen
For a nice little trip in a flying-machine.
Thought cunning Darius: "Now I shan't go
Along 'ith the fellers to see the show.
I'll say I've got sich a terrible coughl
An' then, when the folks 'ave all gone off,
I'll hev full swing fur to try the thing,
An' practise a little on the wing."
"Ain't goin' to see the celebration?"
Says brother Nate. "No; botheration
I've got sich a cold - a toothache - I
My gracious - feel's though I should fly!"
Said Jotham, "Sho!
Guess ye better go."
But Darius said, "No!
Shouldn't wonder 'f you might see me, though,
'Long 'bout noon, ef I git red
O' this jumpin,' thumpin' pain 'n my head."
For all the while to himself he said: —
"I tell ye what!
I'll fly a few times around the lot,
To see how 't seems, then soon's I've got
The hang o' the thing, ez likely's not,
I'll astonish the nation,
An' all creation,
By flyin' over the celebration!
Over their heads I'll sail like an eagle;
I'll balance myself on my wings like a sea-gull:
I'll dance on the chimbleys; I'll stand on the steeple;
I'll flop up to winders an' scare the people!
I'll light on the liberty-pole, an' crow;
An' I'll say to the gawpin' fools below,
'What world's this 'ere
That I've come near?'
Fur I'll make 'em b'lieve I'm a chap f'm the Moon;
An' I'll try to race 'ith their ol'balloon!"
He crept from his bed;
And, seeing the others were gone, he said,
"I'm gittin' over the cold 'n my head."
And away he sped,
To open the wonderful box in the shed.
His brothers had walked but a little way,
When Jotham to Nathan chanced to say,
"What is the feller up to, hey!"
"Don'o'- the's suthin' ur other to pay,
Ur he wouldn't 'a' stayed tu hum to-day."
Says Burke, "His toothache's all 'n his eye!
He never'd missed a Fo'th-o'-July,
Ef he hedn't got some machine to try."
Then Sol, the little one, spoke: "By darn!
Le's hurry back an' hide 'n the barn,
An' pay him fur tellin' us that yarn!"
"Agreed!" Through the orchard they creep back
Along by the fences, behind the stack,
And one by one, through a hole in the wall,
In under the dusty barn they crawl,
Dressed in their Sunday garments all;
And a very astonishing sight was that,
When each in his cobwebbed coat and hat
Came up through the floor like an ancient rat
And there they hid;
And Reuben slid
The fastenings back, and the door undid.
"Keep dark!" said he,
"While I squint an' see what the' is to see."
As knights of old put on their mail -
From head to foot an iron suit
Iron jacket and iron boot,
Iron breeches, and on the head
No hat, but an iron pot instead,
And under the chin the bail,
(I believe they called the thing a helm,)
Then sallied forth to overwhelm
The dragons and pagans that plagued the earth
So this modern knight
Prepared for flight,
Put on his wings and strapped them tight
Jointed and jaunty, strong and light —
Buckled them fast to shoulder and hip;
Ten feet they measured from tip to tip
And a helm had he, but that he wore,
Not on his head, like those of yore,
But more like the helm of a ship.
"Hush!" Reuben said,
"He's up in the shed!
He's opened the winder — I see his head!
He stretches it out, an' pokes it about,
Lookin' to see 'f the coast is clear,
An' nobody near; —
Guess he don' o' who's hid in here!
He's riggin' a spring-board over the
sill!Stop laffin,' Solomon! Burke, keep still!
He's a climbin' out now — Of all the things!
What's he got on? I vum, it's wings!
An' that 'tother thing? I vum, it's a taill
An' there he sits like a hawk on a rail!
Steppin' careful, he travels the length
Of his spring-board, and teeters to try its strength.
Now he stretches his wings, like a monstrous bat;
Peeks over his shoulder; this way an' that,
Fur to see 'f the' 's any one passin' by;
But the' 's on'y a caf an' goslin nigh.
They turn up at him a wonderin' eye,
To see — The dragon! he's goin' to fly!
Away he goes! Jimminy! what a jump!
Flop — flop — an' plump
To the ground with a thump!
Flutt'rin' an' flound'rin' all 'n a lump!"
As a demon is hurled by an angel's spear,
Heels over head, to his proper sphere —
Heels over head, and head over heels,
Dizzily down the abyss he wheels —
So fell Darius. Upon his crown,
In the midst of the barn-yard, he came down,
In a wonderful whirl of tangled strings,
Broken braces and broken springs,
Broken tail and broken wings,
Shooting-stars, and various things;
Barn-yard litter of straw and chaff,
And much that wasn't so sweet by half.
Away with a bellow fled the calf,
And what was that? Did the gosling laugh?
'Tis a merry roar from the old barn-door.
And he hears the voice of Jotham crying,
"Say, D'rius! how do you like flyin'?"
Slowly, ruefully, where he lay,
Darius just turned and looked that way,
As he stanched his sorrowful nose with his cuff.
"Wal, I like flyin' well enough,"
He said; "but the' ain't such a thunderin' sight
O' fun in 't when ye come to light."
I just have room for the MORAL here:
And this is the moral — Stick to your sphere.
Or if you insist, as you have the right,
On spreading your wings for a loftier flight,
The moral is - Take care how you light.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Ablewhackets

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 05:23
For fifty years I have kept a copy of Mutiny on the Bounty on my book shelf...but never read it. A few days ago I spied the entire trilogy (Mutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairn's Island), and decided I must read these classics. The pages are yellow and brittle, but the books are wonderfully written.

In chapter IV ("Tyranny") of Mutiny on the Bounty I came across this paragraph: "We had supped and were passing the time at Ablewhackets—a game I have never seen played ashore. It is commenced by playing cards, which must be named the Good Books. The table is termed the Board of Green Cloth, the hand the Flipper; the light the Glim, and so on. To call a table a table, or a card a card, brings an instant cry of "Watch," whereupon the delinquent must extend his Flipper to be severely firked [beaten or struck] with a stocking full of sand by each of the players in turn, who repeat his offense while firking him. Should the pain bring an oath to his lips, as is more than likely, there is another cry of "Watch," and he undergoes a second round of firking by all hands. As will be perceived, the game is a noisy one."


















I had never heard of Ablewhackets, but imagined my ancestors playing the game aboard sailing ships. I wondered what the rules of the card game were. I discovered several descriptions of the procedures, but no explanations of the game itself.

"ABLE-WACKETS. blows given on the palm of the hand with a twisted handkerchief, instead of a ferula [a flat ruler with a widened end, formerly used for punishing children]; a jocular punishment among seamen, who sometimes play at cards for wackets, the loser suffering as many strokes as he has lost games." (From the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Capt. Grose).

"Able-whackets. A popular sea-game with cards, wherein the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted salts." (From The Sailor’s Word-Book, by William Henry Smyth, 1867.)

This is what I learned from http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-abe3.htm: "None of the many descriptions explain the card game itself. Though it was clearly of secondary importance in the gulling of the unwary, it must have had some rules, but we’re never told what they were."

I have come to believe that ablewhackets could be played with many different card games. Perhaps innovative versions were created regularly as sailors whiled away long hours at sea.

Stephen Brennan relates this story ("Davy Jones's Gift" by John Masefield) in his 2011 book, The Best Sailing Stories Ever Told:
"And each of them had a hand of cards, and a length of knotted rope-yarn, and they were playing able-whackets. Each man in turn put down a card, and swore a new blasphemy, and if his swear didn’t come as he played the card, then all the others hit him with their teasers."
I suppose this is more than any of our readers wanted to know about ablewhackets (the name probably derives from "able-bodied seaman" [a rank in the merchant marines] and "whack" [to strike forcefully with a sharp blow]), but it is an entertaining glimpse into nautical history.  
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on the Outer Banks. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

1950s Visit to Ocracoke & Portsmouth

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 04:24
In the mid-1950s Ken Burke made his first visit to the Outer Banks. He was a sophomore at the University of Richmond, and was on semester break. He and a buddy got their car stuck in the sand "just below Virginia Beach" and had to be pulled out by a Coast Guard bulldozer. At Oregon Inlet they slept on the ground (it was sleeting), waiting for the ferry next morning.

Not until the next year did Ken and his friend venture all the way to Ocracoke. Highway 12 had not yet been built on Ocracoke, so they planned to walk from Hatteras Inlet to the village. Fortunately, a Coast Guardsman offered them a ride in his 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Ken relates that, "Interestingly enough, as we went down the beach, there were cattle actually standing in the surf. Not ponies, but cattle."

A fall storm ("coming out of the southwest") forced them to find shelter in the "old USA Navy concrete lookout tower for submarines [see photo below]."

















The next day they walked into Ocracoke Village.

But Ken had heard about Portsmouth Island, and he was determined to get there. In April of 1957 he and two more friends returned to Ocracoke. They booked passage on the mailboat Aleta, and were met in the channel by Tom Bragg who introduced them to Portsmouth.  They spent three days, the beginning of his love affair with that most isolated Outer Banks village.

(The above information comes from an interview conducted by James White, and printed in the Summer, 2015 issue of Doctor's Creek Journal, published by The Friends of Portsmouth Island.)

You can read Ken Burke's 1958 Honors Thesis,  "The history of Portsmouth, North Carolina, from its founding in 1753 to its evacuation in the face of federal forces in 1861," here: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1410&context=honors-theses.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on  the Outer Banks. You can read the story here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Whale & Porpoise Fishing

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 08/21/2015 - 04:37
Many people are unaware that Outer Bankers engaged in whale and porpoise fishing as recently as 1926. You can read about these enterprises in our latest Ocracoke Newsletter at http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082115.htm.










You will even learn why the island's northernmost creek is called Try Yard Creek.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Horseshoe Crab

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 04:57
This past weekend Amy, David, Lachlan, and I were enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the South Point. Lachlan was exploring the edge of a deep pool connected to the ocean when he shouted for me to come see a large horseshoe crab.


















David took this 31 second video of the giant arthropod making his way back to deeper water.



This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Wilma Lee Panorama

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 08/19/2015 - 04:23
Last week I accompanied a group of folks for a sunset cruise on the Skipjack Wilma Lee. On the way back to Silver Lake, with the sun setting behind the boat, I had a pleasant conversation with Crystal & Ty, a young couple from Wilmington, NC, who had never been to the island before. Ty made this panoramic image of the Wilma Lee with his smart phone, and was gracious enough to share it with me.






Click on the picture to see a full size image. For more information about the Wilma Lee and sunset cruises, click here: http://www.ocracokealive.org/skipjack-wilma-lee.html.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Miss Elsie

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 08/18/2015 - 04:37
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 A number of roads, creeks, cottages, and businesses on Ocracoke are named after prominent islanders. Among others, they include Irvin Garrish Highway, Old Quawk’s Creek, Howard’s Pub, Lawton Lane, Sarah Ellen Drive…and many more. Starting today I will periodically be writing blog posts about the folks memorialized in the names of these island landmarks.

Today I have chosen to write about Elsie Ballance Garrish.



















Many of our readers will have noticed “Elsie’s House” a small historic cottage on Howard Street. This was the home of EIsie Garrish and her husband Irvin (more about Mr. Irvin in a future post).













Elsie Dean Ballance was born January 4, 1915, the daughter of Elisha and Emma Balance. She was the eldest of nine children. As a young woman, Elsie left the island to attend nursing school at Rex Hospital in Raleigh. She graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1938. In December of that same year she married another islander, Irvin Garrish. Although Irvin’s work took them up north for a while, the couple eventually returned to Ocracoke.
At that time Ocracoke was without a doctor, so Elsie devoted herself to providing health care for her friends and neighbors. She delivered a number of babies, administered hundreds of tetanus shots, and stitched up many a wound.
In 1979 Elsie was awarded the annual Community Service Award for her dedication to the people of Ocracoke. Principal Ernest Cutler, in presenting the award, noted that Elsie had “touched the lives at sometime of almost all families who make Ocracoke their home. She is definitely a public servant with one exception -- she is not paid. If something happens to a child at school, their parents always ask, ‘Has Miss Elsie seen the child.’ If she has there is a sigh of relief.”
Miss Elsie lived to see the establishment of a Health Clinic on Ocracoke Island. Thus, with a paid doctor or other health care provider in residence, Elsie could devote more time to her family and other community and church activities. Elsie Garrish died January 23, 2003. She was 88 years old. Her two daughters and their families continue to live on the island.
When you pass “Elsie’s House” on Howard Street, remember this dedicated public servant who provided health care and “plenty of TLC” to our island community.  













Elsie's House is now a rental cottage. More information is available here.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Shiver Me Timbers!

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 05:03
Ocracoke is getting ready for another pirate invasion, so chart your course for the island. Blackbeard's Pirate Jamboree will be held October 30 - November 1.



















This year the festivities will coincide with Halloween. In addition to Trick-or-Treat events for kids, the festival will include pirate re-enactors, buccaneer encampments, naval battles, sword fights, minstrel songs and sea chanteys, good food, and grog.

For more information click here: www.PirateJamboree.com.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Mosquitoes

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 04:26
Anyone who has been coming to Ocracoke for some time is familiar with our mosquito population. Although they can, at times, be quite a nuisance, much depends on weather and rainfall. Dry and/or windy conditions can significantly cut down on their numbers. In addition, Ocracoke has a mosquito control program that is very effective. In fact, mosquitoes have not been much of a problem this season, although I have noticed a few recently.

Pat Garber has written a chapter in her book, Ocracoke Wild, about mosquitoes. I found these statistics fascinating: "These tiny creatures weigh so little that 25,000 would be required to make an ounce. They are capable of flying 30 miles per hour, beating their wings 400 to 600 times per second."

Photo from the Ocracoke Current














Pat also points out that mosquito "larvae provide an important food source for hatchling fish and shrimp...as well as for turtles, frogs, and water insects. Bats, swallows, spiders, and dragonflies rely on the adult mosquitoes for sustenance.... If humans were to successfully eliminate mosquitoes (a highly unlikely possibility), they might eliminate  a good proportion of our fisheries and wildlife."

You can read more about Ocracoke's mosquitoes in this 2012 article by Jenny Scarboroguh in the Ocracoke Current or in this 2013 article by Connie Leinbach in the Island Free Press.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

What Was I Thinking?

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 04:50
I met Katie & Kendall after our Ghost & History Walk two weeks ago. Katie's s great-great grandfather, William Toler (born 1830) had lived on Ocracoke. He was lost at sea in 1888. A grave marker was erected in the family cemetery. His daughter, Lettie, married a man from Swan Quarter, and the family soon moved off the island.

Katie and her daughter Kendall, who live in Currituck, NC, asked me if I knew where William Toler's grave was. After a bit of research I felt sure I knew where he was buried. I'd been there before. "It is back in the woods, far from the paved road," I told them, "but if you would like to see it, I will take you there." They readily agreed, and we met the next morning at 9 am.

The path to the graveyard was much more overgrown than the last time I had been there. There was hardly even a path. We stepped off the pavement, and almost immediately found ourselves chest deep in thick marsh grasses. Soon enough the path disappeared completely, and we entered a dense thicket of myrtles, vines, thorns, and other vegetation. Our way was repeatedly blocked by fallen trees, heavy, low-hanging branches, and lush patches of poison ivy. Eventually we stumbled upon a timy Scarborough family cemetery. There was no fence, just a few stone markers in what was once a small clearing. This was not the graveyard we were looking for.

I almost despaired of ever again finding William Toler's grave, but I persevered. Pushing through more tangles of vines and thorns, I made several false starts, only to find my way blocked. Finally I made a bit of headway, and spied a short portion of an old wooden fence. Other sections had rotted away at the base, and had fallen on the ground. Nearby were several stone markers. This was what we were seeking. I called back to Katy and Kendall who were making slower progress.

Gingerly stepping over roots, dead branches, sharp thorns, and poison ivy, the two women entered the graveyard. William Toler's gravestone was on the edge of a dense thicket, and badly weathered. We took a couple of photos since Katy & Kendall doubted they would ever venture back there again.















The headstone reads: "To the Memory of William Toler Born Feb. 28, 1830 Drowned at Sea Aug. 30, 1888  Our home is lonely without you."


















We couldn't find the same way back out to our car, so we struggled through more underbrush, thorns, wet bogs, tall grass, and thick vines. In spite of the difficulties, Katy and Kendall thanked me for leading them to their ancestor's gravestone (we didn't mention snakes or ticks until we were back to the pavement!). Katy and Kendall will return home with stories of an adventure And they visited a part of Ocracoke seldom seen by visitors or even residents.

Back home I wiped the dozens of scratches on my legs with rubbing alcohol, showered thoroughly to wash away the dirt, grime, and poison ivy oils, then re-treated my wounded legs with more rubbing alcohol. Next time I plan to wear blue jeans!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Clamming

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 05:18
Every now and then I mention clamming in this blog, but I seldom take any photos when I am out in the Sound. Earlier this week I took friends out to rake a few clams. Erin Jones took these pictures.























Back home we opened the clams, topped them with bacon and Parmeseon cheese...


















...and broiled them for about 15 - 20 minutes.



















When I brought them to the table, they didn't last long!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Keep A-Goin'

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 05:04
Cousin Blanche constantly amazes me. I was sitting on her pizer a couple of days ago, and the conversation turned to the Wright Brothers and how they persevered while others were giving up on the dream of conquering the air.  That reminded Blanche of a poem she had memorized decades ago. She sat across from me and recited the poem in its entirety!

"KEEP A-GOIN’" If you strike a thorn or rose,
Keep a-goin'!
If it hails or if it snows,
Keep a-goin'!
'Taint no use to sit an' whine
When the fish ain't on your line;
Bait your hook an' keep a-tryin'--
Keep a-goin'!

When the weather kills your crop,
Keep a-goin'!
Though 'tis work to reach the top,
Keep a-goin'!
S'pose you're out o' ev'ry dime,
Gittin' broke ain't any crime;
Tell the world you're feelin' prime--
Keep a-goin'!

When it looks like all is up,
Keep a-goin'!
Drain the sweetness from the cup,
Keep a-goin'!
See the wild birds on the wing,
Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
When you feel like singin', sing--
Keep a-goin'! Author: Frank L. Stanton (1857-1927)

Not bad advice, I'd say. Thank you Blanche for again brightening my day!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Stovepipe Hat Wreck

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 08/10/2015 - 04:26
I just realized that for 2 1/2 weeks I have had the incorrect link at the bottom of my blog. This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the "Stovepipe Hat Wreck" (not "Rum Running on the Outer Banks"...that was June's Newsletter).

1965 Image from the NC Tourist Bureau













I loved hearing the story of this 1867 wreck  and the thousands of top hats that Hatteras islanders salvaged from the beach. So I began an investigation. I was surprised about what I learned. If you haven't already read the Newsletter, please click here for the full story: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.

I don't think you will be disappointed.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Fig Fest

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 08/06/2015 - 04:17
Yesterday I mentioned Ocracoke Island fig preserves that are available for sale at Village Craftsmen.Today I want to alert all of our readers to the 2nd annual Ocracoke Island Fig Fest to be held August 14.














Festivities start at 1 pm at the Community Square, with local vendors displaying and selling all things fig related -- cookbooks, preserves, fig trees, and more. At 2 pm Chester Lynn, the island's fig expert, will give a presentation on figs (he will even have figs to taste). At 3 pm bakers will display their fig cakes (either traditional or innovative). Judging begins at 4 o'clock with North Carolina restaurant reviewer, food writer, and TV personality, Bob Garner. Free samples will be available after the judging.

Festivities continue into the evening with a traditional Ocracoke Island square dance at 6 pm, awards at 7 pm, and a dance hosted by the Ocracoke Rockers from 8 - 10 pm.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Figs

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 08/05/2015 - 04:29
Figs are abundant on Ocracoke, and many island residents are busy this time of year putting up preserves. In 2014 Hurricane Arthur (July 4) nearly destroyed fig production. So far this year we have seen a bumper crop.

As a result, Village Craftsmen again has preserved figs for sale.














Fig preserves are tasty spread on your morning toast, are the main ingredient in a delicious island cake (http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2005/08/island-fig-cake.html), make a popular appetizer when served with goat cheese, and are included in many traditional and innovative recipes.

We have a new supply of this year's fig preserves in pint and half pint jars, ready to ship immediately. Order your fig preserves here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/figpreserves.htm. You will be glad you did!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs
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