Ocracoke Island Journal

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An Occasional Journal of Daily Island Life.Philiphttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01572532603071469799noreply@blogger.comBlogger3460125
Updated: 12 hours 27 min ago

Silver Lake

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 04:23
Native islanders almost always refer to our harbor as "The Creek." More formally it is called "Cockle Creek," a name used for generations. Prior to WWII this picturesque body of water was shallow...not more than four feet deep. On the southeast border of the creek two languid streams (the "Big Gut" and the "Little Gut") ebbed and flowed as they carried brackish water toward the "bald beach."

The harbor was, and still is, a tidal creek that is connected to Pamlico Sound by "the ditch," the narrow opening used by ferries and other water craft. In the 1930s, and again during WWII, the Creek was dredged to provide a suitable harbor for larger boats and US Navy vessels. In the process, the two streams were filled in.

Local oral history suggests that native islander and entrepreneur Stanley Wahab re-christened the harbor "Silver Lake" after the initial dredging operation in order to attract tourists. There is no doubt that Stanley Wahab popularized the more colorful name in order to promote his new "Wahab Village Hotel" (now Blackbeard's Lodge).

The designation "Silver Lake" is older than that, however. In an 1890 newspaper promotion in The Daily Journal (New Bern, NC), the Spencer brothers, new owners of the Ocracoke Hotel (1885-1900), refer to "Silver Lake, a beautiful sheet of water...immediately in the rear and offer[ing] a sail for the timid who fear the sound or ocean, a bath for those who dread the surf, and fishing for any one who prefer to angle for perch rather than trout or blue fish."

The Ocracoke Hotel, 1898











The Spencer brothers were from Washington, NC, and it took many years for islanders to feel comfortable with the new name for our harbor. Even today, most O'cockers continue to call the harbor "The Creek."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052114.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Ferry Tips

Sun, 06/01/2014 - 04:39
Below is some valuable information from the NC Department of Transportation for folks traveling to Ocracoke via the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries:

Hatteras-Ocracoke: On the Ferry System's most popular summer route, motorists who arrive at Hatteras before 10am or after 3pm will generally avoid the daily crowds, as will travelers who get to Ocracoke's South Dock before 2pm or after 7pm. In addition, the busiest summer days on the Hatteras Inlet route are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. "People who make their day trips on Monday or Friday stand a much better chance of avoiding long waits," says Hatteras Port Captain Walter Goodwin.

Ferry Crossing Hatteras Inlet (NCDOT)















Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052114.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Home?

Sat, 05/31/2014 - 04:32
My neighbor, Edward Norvell, sent me these photos of an exposed shipwreck near the Pony Pen. We think these timbers might be what is left of the steamboat Home that wrecked near there in 1837. Ninety people (men, women, and children) lost their lives in that terrible disaster.

Walter Howard recounted the story as he heard it many years ago from Kade Williams. I have reproduced Walter's article on our web site: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news100104.htm.

The ship's timbers were exposed recently, but they are slowly being covered again as strong winds blow across the beach.

































Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052114.htm.



Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Spartina

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 04:37
On Monday afternoon I biked down to the Community Square. There I met Steve Earley, captain and owner of a beautiful 17' sailboat, Spartina. Steve built this wooden yawl-rigged boat himself...and it was a delight to behold. Steve told me he has sailed his vessel extensively in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina (in the Chesapeake Bay, Pamlico Sound, and even off shore).



















Steve's sailboat is named after an eastern coastal cord grass, and a book of the same name by John Casey, a "classic tale of a man, a boat, and a storm." You can read about Steve's adventures, and see superb photos (Steve is staff photographer for the Virginian-Pilot), on his blog: http://logofspartina.blogspot.com/. You can also read an excellent article by Capt. Rob Temple in the Ocracoke Current: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/88371.

Life on Ocracoke so often brings us in contact with interesting, talented, and creative folks who enrich our lives with their presence, at times enduring, at other times fleeting. Steve was on his way early the next morning.

Happy sailing, Steve!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

More About the Curious Children

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 05:04
A bit more research re. yesterdays post has yielded the following article from The Tarboro Southerner, dated 6 February, 1879:

"We have received the following letter from a prominent physician of Louisville, Ky., regarding the case [of the three children with night blindness] and trust some one will inform us whether the parents of these children, or their ancestors, were of blood relation:

"Louisville, Ky., Jan. 30th, 1879 Editor Tarboro Southerner: -- I see an extract from your paper in reference to the blindness of some children of James Howard. I have seen a great many such cases. Hemeralopie, or night blindness, is only a symptom. The disease is a pigmentary degeneration of the retina, or perceptive layer of the eye. With the ophthalmoscope, with which the back of the eye can be examined, small spots of black pigment are seen, especially at the periphery of the retina. They commence showing themselves there and gradually travel in towards the centre of the eye, ‘til, in time, it leads to total blindness. Some cases never become entirely blind. You will find that by covering one eye of the child and testing the other that sight is only central. That is, let the child look straight ahead and you will find that it will be unable to see anything held to the right or left, or above or below. The disease is said to come from the marriage of blood relatives. I have found it to be so in only a few cases. It would be interesting to know whether Mr. H. and wife were related or not. If Mr. Howard was not related to his wife before marriage, probably there was some inter-marrying some years back. Nothing can be done to stop the disease. W.C."

From http://www.lvpei.org/resources/eye-faq/blindnessdue.htmlI gleaned this information: "What are the diseases associated with consanguineous marriages? Retinitis Pigmentosa is a hereditary degeneration and atrophy of the retina. It is usually progressive and leads to reduced peripheral vision that causes tunnel vision, night blindness and loss of vision. This disease affects children and young adults."

In fact, my great grandparents were second cousins. They shared one set of common great grandparents. (That makes my father and me fourth cousins once removed...and my children and me fifth cousins once removed...and I am my own fifth cousin! We are fortunate that my mother's family was from Hungary!)

So, was it Vitamin A deficiency or intermarriage?  Perhaps it was a combination of both, but to my knowledge, my grandfather and his siblings did not exhibit night blindness as adults.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Three Curious Children

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 04:50
I recently discovered an interesting newspaper article re-printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer, dated January 10, 1879. Originally published in the Tarboro (NC) Southerner, the article was titled "Three Curious North Carolina Children."

The article is about three children of my great-grandparents James Howard (1839-1904) & Zilphia Howard (1841-1919). The three children are my grandfather, Homer Howard, (1868-1947), Sabra Howard (1870-1951), and Wheeler Howard (1874-1940).

Herewith the article:

"A remarkable case of defective vision is that of three children of James Howard, a seafaring man, whose family live on Ocracoke Island. They become totally blind each day, immediately after the sun goes down. If by chance they happen to be in the yard playing when the sun sets, their playthings are instantly laid aside, and efforts made to reach the house, when they soon after retire, and sleep soundly until sunrise, after which their sight is described as being restored, and to all appearances perfectly unimpaired. The youngest is three and the eldest ten years old -- two boys and one girl, all of light complexion. Their eyes are light blue and there is nothing about them that appears at all strange."

On first reading I thought this an extremely odd story. I had never heard about anything of the sort. Nor had cousin Blanche. She thought perhaps the children were playing a prank on their parents, or maybe my great grandfather was playing a prank on the reporter. We laughed about other mischief the Howards were known for.

However, after a bit of research I discovered that a deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to a condition called "nightime blindness." This is what Wikipedia has to say:

"Nyctalopia (from Greek νύκτ-, nykt- 'night'; αλαός, alaos 'blind, not seeing', and ὄψ, ops 'eye') also called 'Night Blindness' is a condition making it difficult or impossible to see in relatively low light. It is a symptom of several eye diseases. Night blindness may exist from birth, or be caused by injury or malnutrition (for example, a lack of vitamin A). It can be described as insufficient adaptation to darkness."

Given Ocracoke's remote location and the difficulty islanders sometimes had obtaining fresh vegetables, I wouldn't be surprised if the children had a Vitamin A deficiency.

Remember when your mamma told you to eat your carrots to help you see better? Carrots are a good source of Vitamin A.

The connection between night blindness and vitamin A was not made until 1925. L. S. Fridericia and E. Holm figured it out.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Poison Ivy

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 05:10
It is that time of year again! Poison Ivy has erupted in various places around the island...along footpaths, climbing on fences, in overgrown lots. This photo of a thriving patch of the dreaded weed was taken earlier in the month along the Hammock Hills Nature Trail (across from the NPS campground).















As long as you can identify this luxurious, bright green, three-leafed plant, and don't go tromping through the woods in short pants, you probably needn't worry about breaking out in a rash. Even on the Nature Trail it is easy to avoid the poison ivy if you simply keep your eyes open!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the curious story of Vera/Charlie Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs