Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Superstitions

A few traditional Outer Banks superstitions:
  • If you wear socks to bed you will wake up with a sore throat (as a teenager I often went to bed with socks on because I'd go out barefooted in the evening and come home late, too tired to wash my feet...but I never remember waking up with a sore throat).
  • If you sweep after sundown, you will sweep a member out of your family (seems like a creative justification for not working at night).
  • If you go in the front door, and out the back door, you will have bad luck (Blanche often reminds me of this when I visit her).
  • If a bird gets in the house, it means bad luck (a house wren once found an opening, and built a nest in my screen porch; when the eggs hatched the baby birds flew all around the porch, pooping on everything. It was definitely bad luck!). 
When I was a teenager I came across this quotation by Francis Bacon (1561-1626): "The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Books

People occasionally ask me what books I've read recently. Here is my book list from the last couple of months:

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

Zealot by Reza Aslan

On the Historicity of Jesus, by Richard Carrier

Christianity, the First Three Thousand Years, by Diarmaid MacCulloch

Atlantic, by Simon Winchester

Einstein, by Walter Isaacson

Your Inner Fish, by Neil Shubin

Talkin' Tar Heel, by Walt Wolfram & Jeffery Reaser

Kneeknock Rise by Natalie Babbitt

A Man of Misconceptions by John Glassie

Ten Thousand Breakfasts by Ann Ehringhaus

Death and the Afterlife by Samuel Scheffler

Numerous booklets, articles, and book chapters about whaling and porpoise fishing on the Outer Banks (look for a Newsletter article about this in 2015).

I also recently watched Woody Allen's movie, Annie Hall. And I started worrying that I might be like Alvy Singer, reading too many serious books! Then I remembered that I also enjoy The Funny Times.

Maybe some of our readers have book suggestions for me and other folks who follow this blog. Leave a comment if you do.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pilot Boat

In the colonial period and beyond, ships risked running aground attempting to cross the bar at Ocracoke Inlet. Pilots, seafarers familiar with local conditions, were established at Ocracoke in the early 1700s (the earliest name for the nascent village was Pilot Town). The pilots' task was to guide ships across the bar, and bring them safely into Pamlico Sound.

The pilot boat was typically double-ended, 20 – 25 feet long, and high in the bow and stern. The hull was constructed of lapstrake planks (overlapping planks of cedar, cypress, or other native wood). The lightweight pilot boat could be outfitted with a mast and sail, or it might be rowed by 4 to 6 men.  

Whaleboat at Mystic Seaport
Photo by Stan Shebs




















Rowed pilot boats were used later in the eighteenth century and into the early twentieth century by shore-based whaling operations along the Outer Banks.  It is a fascination story. Look for an article about North Carolina whaling in a future Newsletter. 

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

OPS Art Show & Auction

Last year's Art Show & Auction at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum was a huge success. (You can see photos and read about it here: http://site.ocracokepreservation.org/Art-Openings.html.)

Mixed Media by Maureen Ciancio















OPS is planning another Art Show & Auction for January, 2015. This is how it works: Just request a small blank canvas from OPS (Phone: (252) 928-7375 Mail: Ocracoke Preservation Society P.O. Box 1240 Ocracoke, NC 27960 E-mail: info@ocracokepreservation.org). Amy will send it right out to you.

Collage by Jamie Carter















Then create your work of art...in any medium -- oils, acrylics, watercolors, collage, photography...and send it back to OPS. 

Mailboat Aleta by Pat Schweninger














The 2015 Art Show & Auction will be held Saturday January 24, 5-7pm. Fabulous artwork done by incredible people will be available at this silent auction event. Hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served.

Request your canvas today! And be part of this wonderful, creative fundraising endeavor.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Clay Figures

In March I posted a short video of my grandson Lachlan and his paper critter. (In case you missed that, you can see it here: http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2014/03/paper-critter.html.)

Lately, he has been creating small critters with low-fired clay. Just thought I would share a few of his many creations.













Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Toothache Tree

While reading a 1973 issue of Sea Chest, a journal of Outer Banks history & stories published by Cape Hatteras High School students, I was reminded of the Pellitory Tree, also called the Toothache Tree, or Southern Prickly Ash. These small to medium sized trees are not abundant on Ocracoke, but can be located throughout the island.

A Toothache Tree on Howard Street















The Toothache Tree sports sturdy thorns on its trunk and branches.

Thorn Protruding from a Larger Pellitory Tree















Chewing on a sliver of the tree's bark will numb the mouth and tongue, and was used to relieve the pain of a toothache. A piece of the bark inserted in a cavity would help ease the pain, and a sack of the bark held against the gums will relieve pain and swelling.

Smaller Tree in Blanche's Yard















Another old-time remedy from Ocracoke Island. (Enlarge the bottom photo for a better view of the thorns.)

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Charlie Mac Again

Charles Caswell McWilliams (1892-1972) carried mail by truck from Hatteras to Ocracoke between 1949 and the early 1970s. During the 1940s and early 1950s there was no paved road to Hatteras Inlet. "Charlie Mac," as he was called by most, drove a 4-wheel-drive Army surplus ambulance.

Charlie Mac Disembarking from Ferry













Charlie Mac was also an accomplished carver. See our earlier post for photos of some of his carved birds.

"Charlie Mac" Photo by John Wall



















Charlie Mac, who was rarely seen without his cigar, was the grandson of John Small McWilliams (1823-1889), a merchant from Washington, NC who moved to Ocracoke at the outbreak of the Civil War to teach school.

Charlie Mac's father, John Wilson ("John Mac") owned a store on Cockle Creek (Silver Lake), and was appointed postmaster in 1883 at a salary of $24.52 per month. John Mac's brother, Charles Small McWilliams, was the keeper of the Portsmouth Island US Life Saving Station.

Today there are no McWilliamses living on Ocracoke, although several of Charlie Mac's descendants live here or still own property on the island.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm