Outer Banks Blogs

Uncle Homer

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 01/08/2016 - 06:12
My grandson, Lachlan, is now eleven years old. He loves to hear stories about his colorful family members and ancestors. When I was Lachlan's age I was fascinated with my Uncle Homer (1917-1966). For a time he served in the United States Navy, and he had acquired numerous tattoos, mostly of anchors, ships, and other nautical symbols. But my favorites were the naked ladies inked on his legs (those are the stories Lachlan most likes to hear, of course!).

Homer R. Howard,
courtesy of Earl O'Neal


















When Uncle Homer stopped by to visit, he delighted in rolling up his pants legs, and flexing his calves to make the ladies dance for me. Cousin Dallie recalls Uncle Homer's exceptional patience. When he visited her home, she says, he would sit for an hour or more, allowing her to tape various paper doll outfits on the naked ladies!

Every family needs a quirky or unconventional relative to provide stories for future generations. My Uncle Homer is just one of many!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Was & Weren't

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 01/07/2016 - 05:48
On Ocracoke you might here someone say, "Oh, they was on the island for his birthday; except Jimmy, of course, he weren't here."

Walt Wolfram & Natalie Schilling-Estes address this usage in their book, Hoi Toide on the Outer Banks. As they point out, "a widespread tendency among English speakers is the attempt to regularize the verb to be by taking one form and using it for all subjects. In a number of American dialects, we hear you was, we was, and they was along with I was and she was."

British speakers, on the other hand, may use were, rather than was, for all subjects.

More common in British dialects, as Wolfram and Shilling-Estes point out, is the use of was for all positive statements and were for all negative statements. "Interestingly," they write, "Ocracoke English...[is] among the few in American English that use [that] agreement pattern...."

Here is the Ocracoke English conjugation of the verb to be in the past tense (affirmative and negative):

Affirmative:

I was
you was
s/he was

we was
you (you all) was
they was

Negative:

I weren't
you weren't
s/he weren't

we weren't
you (you all) weren't
they weren't

So..."They was here," but "He weren't here." One more clue to the British origin of Ocracoke Island's earliest European settlers.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Shopping

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 01/06/2016 - 06:00
Visitors to the island often wonder where we do much of our off-island shopping. Many islanders drive to the mainland (Norfolk, VA, or Greenville, NC, for example) or to Nags Head to make major purchases. Of course, in the age of the Internet, it is now possible to order almost anything on line.

In years past, Ocracoke residents often relied on mail-order firms (Sears & Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and Charles Williams) for clothes and household items. Sometimes, island boat captains and merchants made regular trips across the sound. This excerpt from the Morning New Bernian [New Bern, NC], February 10, 1932 offers a glimpse into island commerce in the early part of the twentieth century:

"Capt. W[illiam] D[aniel] Gaskill, one of Ocracoke’s most progressive citizens, has just returned to the island with a cargo of foodstuffs and building materials after having spent two days here disposing of a large quantity of sea food. Capt. Gaskill is now a regular visitor to New Bern, coming here every ten days to make purchases for the families on the island…. “[T]he variety of foodstuffs is what appeals to me so much,” [said Capt. Gaskill]. Capt. Gaskill conducts the hotel on the island and is now making plans to build a dance hall over the water which will be open by the time the summer season rolls around, every piece of lumber for this work to be hauled from the mainland.”

Capt. Bill's Pamlico Inn










 Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.

Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

NC State Reptile

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 01/05/2016 - 06:12
In 1979 the Eastern Box Turtle was designated the official North Carolina State Reptile.


















A friend spotted this fellow crossing the road near the Island Inn last fall. We stopped and moved him out of the traffic lane. I snapped this photo just before he vanished into the underbrush.

The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is the only terrestrial turtle found in North Carolina. You can read more here: http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Learning/documents/Profiles/Eastern_Box_Turtle.pdf.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Back Again!

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 01/04/2016 - 06:10
Well, after a short break, we are back...with more history of Ocracoke, insights into daily island life, vintage photos, stories, information about island culture & heritage, and more. We hope all of our readers enjoyed the Christmas holiday with family & friends, and are looking forward to a New Year filled with all good things.

The Dezzie Bragg House











Above is a 1942 photo of the Frederick and Dezzie Bragg House, which was built ca. 1900.

Today the Dezzie Bragg house is home to the island's delightful independent book store, Books to be Red and Deepwater Pottery.

This building is  contributing structure in the Ocracoke Historic District, and is one of a small number of 1-story double-pile pyramidal roofed houses with a front shed porch, interior corbelled chimney, wood shingle siding, and rear ell. It is located on School Road. Thomas Bragg (1797-1884) acquired this property in two separate transactions: one in 1827 and the other in 1830. He had a house on the property but it is believed that his grandson Frederick demolished the house to build this house about 1900. Dezzie Bragg (1876- 1955) inherited the property from her second husband Frederick Wilson Bragg (1876-1930). The house sits on a large lot with traditional landscaping.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Happy Holidays!

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 12/18/2015 - 05:22
Village Craftsmen continues to offer fine quality American-made handcrafts even in the winter season. Our store on Howard Street is open Tuesday - Saturday from 11 am until 4 pm. Of course, our on-line store is also open. Our store on Howard Street will be closed December 24 & 25 so we can celebrate Christmas with our families, but will reopen on December 26. We will close for the season on December 31, and  will re-open again mid-March, 2016.

Also, this is our last blog post for 2015. Posts will resume on January 4, 2016. We hope you enjoy reading our blog throughout the year.

Until next year, we wish you all a Happy Winter Solstice (December 22)....




....The Merriest of Christmases (December 25)....

















....and all good things in the New Year!













Many thanks to all of our readers and customers for a wonderful 2015. We are looking forward to seeing you all again in 2016!!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Spencer's Market

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 12/17/2015 - 05:36
This is our latest post about Ocracoke landmarks named for prominent islanders...Spencer's Market.












Spencer's Market is the location of two eateries, an antique shop, a sunglasses shop, a realty, golf cart rentals, and studio apartments. But who is Spencer?

Not so very long ago, on that corner (NC 12 and School Road), stood the home of islanders Herman (1906-1981) and Flora Burrus (Flossie) (d. 1976) Spencer. Flossie was the daughter of Joseph M. Burrus, keeper of the Ocracoke lighthouse from 1929 to 1946.

Herman was a fisherman and bird carver. For many years Village Craftsmen sold small hand-carved seagulls and pelicans that Herman made.

Herman also had a very dry sense of humor. He came by one afternoon with some birds to sell as we were filling a galvanized tub with water. We stepped inside to look at his carvings. After negotiating about his birds for about 40 minutes (including neighborly chatting), he turned to leave. On his way to the door he off-handedly remarked, "I reckon that galvanized tub is about filled up by now." Of course, it had been overflowing for more than half an hour!

Herman & Flossie Spencer Home (Photo by H. Raup, c. 1975)












The last folks to live in the house were Herman and Flossie's daughter, Gaynelle, and her son, Ricky. Gaynelle is well-known on the island as a baker of delicious fig cakes. She and Ricky also preserve figs that we sell in Village Craftsmen. In addition, Ricky works for the NC Ferry Division and at the Silver Lake Motel.

The house has been moved down the street. Today it is painted red, and houses the Ocracoke Pizza Company.   

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.         
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Oyster Roast

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 12/16/2015 - 05:48
One of the highlights of being on Ocracoke Island during the winter is the annual Oyster Roast sponsored by the Ocracoke Working Watermen's Association. Typically scheduled for late December (after the Christmas holidays), hundreds of islanders and visitors gather at the Fish House where makeshift plywood tables are piled with steamed, freshly harvested oysters.

Photo Courtesy Ocracoke Island Realty













Boiled shrimp is usually available for those few folks who are not keen on oysters. Van O"Neal often provides his famous fish stew, as well. Of course, there are plenty of hush puppies and, to wash it all down, beer or soft drinks. After you've had your fill, you can stroll down to the Watermen's Exhibit at the Community Square for a decadant dessert.

If you will be on the island later this month, check around the village for the dates of this year's Oyster Roast. You won't want to miss it!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Looking to Thee

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 12/15/2015 - 06:12
The Methodist Church was the center of community activity in my grandparents' time. My grandfather, Homer Howard, and my grandmother, Aliph O'Neal Howard, were active members of the congregation. (Click here to read my history of the Ocracoke Methodist Church.)

Grandfather Homer served in the United States Life Saving Service. Returning from beach patrol, he customarily rode his horse down Howard Street. Cousin Blanche remembers listening to him singing as he passed in front of her house. Last month Blanche sang one of the hymns she remembers hearing my grandfather singing (she says he had a beautiful voice). The hymn was "Looking to Thee," written in 1911.



















Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Alphaeus Philemon Cole

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 12/14/2015 - 05:27
According to Wikipedia, Alphaeus Philemon Cole (July 12, 1876 – November 25, 1988) "was an American artist, engraver and etcher. He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and died in New York City. ... At the time of his death, at age 112 years and 136 days, Alphaeus was the world's oldest verified living man."


















One of Alphaeus Cole's patrons was Ocracoke Island part-time resident Sam Jones, a colorful island character who built Berkley Castle, Berkley Manor, and several other distinctive structures.

According to an article in the October, 2010 issue of Virginia Livingmagazine, Sam's patronage of Alphaeus Phelemon Cole resulted in a CBS TV national interview with the famous portrait artist. When the interviewer asked Cole about affairs he may have had with his models Sam Jones became incensed and "emerged from backstage brandishing a broom and began swatting the interviewer and the production crew. The interview was unceremoniously aborted."

You can read more about Sam Jones here:  http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012111.htm.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Where is This?

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 12/11/2015 - 05:32
The following photo was taken by Henry Raup sometime between 1974 and 1978. I believe these two modest rental cottages were built from lumber salvaged from the old Navy barracks.












Today, this small home (below) sits where the cottage above (left) was located. I believe this home was built around the original cottage, which still remains part of the structure.














Notice how much the landscape has changed. Where once there was just sand, yucca plants and sand spurs, there is now grass and cedars.

Can any of our readers identify where this cottage is?

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

What & Where

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 12/10/2015 - 05:48
Not long ago, as I was biking around the village, I noticed this lonely structure sitting in a now-empty lot. Although island residents and many long-time visitors to Ocracoke will know what this is, I suspect there are some of our readers who will be puzzled.

If you do not recognize this object, you can learn what it is, and see photos of many more, here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102110.htm.














For those of you who can identify this structure, I wonder if you know where it is located. If you think you know, please leave your answer in a comment.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Talking Backwards

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 12/09/2015 - 05:32
"It's pretty some [an island expression meaning 'very pretty'] outside today," you might here an islander say. Looking out the window, you notice only rain and wind. It may seem odd, but you immediately understand that the speaker is using irony.

Talking backwards, or speaking in opposites, is a common linguistic usage on the Outer Banks. Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser comment on this in their book, Talkin' Tar Hell, How our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina.


















On page 120 - 121, Wolfram and Reaser use the adjective "greatest" as an example, by quoting Ann Rose from Harker's Island (Ocracoke Islanders use this word just as they do on Harker's Island). Ann explains that the statement, "That crowd had the greatest time," doesn't necessarily indicate a positive observation. "It coulda been that maybe they were fussing about something and feuding and hollering and screaming and whatever, but 'greatest' means like intensity, you know."

Wolfram and Reaser go on to explain that "talking backwards" and other distinctive linguistic devices help set Outer Bankers apart from the mainland. They promote social solidarity, and promote the preservation of a unique culture.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Lighthouse-Inspired Poems

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 12/08/2015 - 05:29
Today I share excerpts from four lighthouse-inspired poems (there are many more).

Lead Kindly Light, by John Henry Newman, 1801-1890:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!

The Lighthouse, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882:

And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
Through the deep purple of the twilight air,
Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light
With strange, unearthly splendor in the glare!

Photo by Lou Ann Homan













Pharos Loquitor, by Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832:

Far in the bosom of the deep,
O'er these wild shelves my watch I keep;
A ruddy gem of changeful light,
Bound on the dusky brow of night,
 
Let the Lower Lights be Burning, by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876:
 
Let the lower lights be burning!
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Early Lighthouse Lamps

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 12/07/2015 - 05:52
In past posts I have written about the Fresnel Lens, a technological leap in navigational lighting. A Fresnel Lens, invented in 1822, is a glass dome of prisms and bull's-eyes. Light is concentrated at its center into parallel rays that are intensified with a magnifying glass.

Click here to read more about the Fresnel Lens and the Ocracoke Lighthouse: http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/search?q=fresnel.

But what methods were used to illuminate American lighthouses prior to 1822? Below is a partial list, in chronological order, of various devices and mechanisms:
  • Simple pole lights upon which were burned bales of pitch-soaked oakum (loose fiber obtained by untwisting old rope).
  • Tallow candles set in chandeliers and enclosed in a lantern room (until the mid-1700s).
  • Oil Lamps 
    • Simple, open reservoirs filled with oil (whale oil was most highly prized) into which several cotton-rope wicks were placed. 
    • Pan lamps: enclosed trays with as many as two dozen wicks. Some lighthouses suspended more than one pan lamp in the lantern room. "Compass lamps" were round.
    • Bucket lamps: larger devices that could hold as much as two gallons of oil, with numerous metal spouts into which were threaded thick rope wicks.
    • Argand lamps: invented by French physicist, Francois-Pierre Ami Argand, employed a much cleaner burning hollow wick encased in a metal tube, and a glass chimney.
    • Reflector lamps: an Argand lamp with an added silver-coated parabolic reflector.
    • Winslow Lewis lamps: an Argand lamp modified with a convex, bottle glass magnifier.
For fuel, kerosene replaced whale oil after the Civil War, and Fresnel lenses replaced other devices by the mid-19th century. Fresnel lenses remain the "gold standard" and are still in use in US lighthouses today.

Eventually all lighthouses were electrified. The Ocracoke lighthouse was fitted with a Fresnel lens in 1854, and electrified in 1929.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Yaupon Tea

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 12/04/2015 - 06:01
Yaupon holly grows wild on Ocracoke Island.


















Many of our readers know that islanders have traditionally used the dried leaves, which contain caffeine and theobromine (an alkaloid found in conventional tea and chocolate), to make a local tea substitute.














Native Americans were the first to discover yaupon tea. Some sources identify yaupon tea as the "black drink" used in purification rituals. Because the ceremonies involved vomiting, Europeans gave yaupon its Latin name, Ilex vomitoria. However, yaupon does not have emetic properties unless drunk in great quantities, or in combination with other substances made from roots and herbs, and/or after fasting.

Village Craftsmen often has locally harvested yaupon tea for sale. Try it sometime. It is quite refreshing.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Island Christmas Events

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 12/03/2015 - 05:11
If you are on the island this week and/or next, be sure to take note of the following special holiday events:
  • Saturday, Dec. 5: Ocracoke Preservation Society Historic Homes Open House, 3 to 5 p.m. The historic Emma & Simon O’Neal house, 458 Lighthouse Rd., and the Felix & Sue Fleig House (circa 1950s),107 Live Oak Rd. will be open for viewing.
  • Sunday, Dec. 6: 2 p.m. Cookie swap. Ocracoke Community Library. Bring a dozen take a dozen. 
  • Monday, Dec. 7: United Methodist Women’s Potluck Dinner, Ocracoke Community Center; 6 p.m. 
  • Tuesday, Dec. 8: OPS Wassail Party and Lighting of the Community Tree; 5 to 7 p.m. 
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

The Great Swash

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 12/02/2015 - 05:54
Wind, waves, tide, time, and humans are constantly shaping and re-shaping the Outer Banks. The Great Swash (35°09'21'N 75°51'30"W) is the name given to an area on Ocracoke (see screenshot below) that half a century ago was rarely dry, almost continually awash with tide.











Not surprisingly, the Great Swash is the site of Old Hatteras Inlet. Today, however, that area has been stabilized by the construction of a barrier dune between NC Highway 12 and the Atlantic Ocean. The casual visitor would not recognize this as an area that was at one time marsh and wetlands.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Wreck Diving

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 12/01/2015 - 06:40
Numerous vessels have wrecked along the Outer Banks. The web site, http://www.nc-wreckdiving.com/, lists 70 ships that sank in the month of December (between 1818 and 1982), including a half dozen lost at Ocracoke (http://www.nc-wreckdiving.com/calendar/december.html).

Photo courtesy www.nc-wreckdiving.com












As the web site points out, "Bathed by the clear, warm waters of the Gulf Stream, the coast of North Carolina offers some of the best scuba and wreck diving in the United States. Whether interested in sight-seeing, underwater photography, maritime or military history, a technical diver or just beginning, from Cape Hatteras to Cape Fear, the abundant marine life and numerous shipwrecks of North Carolina offer something for scuba divers of all interests and skill levels."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Spencer House

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 06:15
Below is a photo taken by National Park Service ranger, Henry Raup, sometime between 1974 and 1978. The house on the left, built ca. 1940, is still standing.














The house on the right, a traditional island "story and a jump," was built in the early 20th century by Andrew Spencer. The last resident was his cousin, Caswell Spencer (1886-1905). The house stood until 1989 when it was demolished. Descendants of the Spencers continue to live in the house on the left.

Can any of our readers identify where this picture was taken?

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs
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