Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Opry Night

Tonight, like every Wednesday evening during the summer months, local musicians and storytellers entertain their audience at Deepwater Theater on School Road. The hour and a half performance features fantastic pickin'; a classical violin piece; foot-stomping fiddle tunes; clear, resonant vocals; a traditional story of island life; and/or tall tales about life at sea.

Shows begin at 8:00 pm, and if you're planning to attend be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early. It's not unusual for the Opry to be sold out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Wreck of The Tiger, June 29, 1585

Four hundred and nineteen years ago, Sir Walter Raleigh made his second expedition to the North Carolina coast. Under the command of Sir Richard Grenville, and with seven vessels and six hundred men, they were attempting to establish a permanent English colony on the North American continent.

In June, 1585 the expedition arrived at Wokokon (Ocracoke) Inlet. Because of pilot error (rather than the usual storm conditions) their flagship, the Tiger, ran aground on June 29. This was the second recorded shipwreck on the North Carolina coast.

In spite of the crew's success in preventing the ship from breaking apart, most of the provisions were lost.

Almost two weeks later, after repairing the Tiger, the expedition sailed across Pamlico Sound to explore the mainland coast. When the leaders returned to England they had little to say in support of the area. Lieutenant Ralph Lane denounced Wokokon Inlet in particular as a treacherous waterway devoid of reliable harbors.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Partly Cloudy

The sun is out as I write, but the sky has been cloudy this morning. It's warm (in the middle 80's) and there is a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms this afternoon. It's not the best beach day (not the worst either), but it should be good for business. :-)

Sunday, June 27, 2004

A Beautiful Sunday Morning

Our quiet Sunday morning was made even nicer when my daughter, Amy, and her husband, David, called and invited Lou Ann and me to have lunch with them at Ocracoke's newest restaurant, "The Flying Mellon."

The Flying Mellon is the latest venture of Ocracokers, Michael Schrammel and Suzie Scott, and is located behind O'Neals Tackle shop, and next door to the East Carolina Bank on Highway 12.

Our plans for the day are modest -- an hour or so at the beach after lunch (the water temperature is 78 degrees, and the waves have been near-perfect), a walk (probably along the surf), some time later to lie in the hammock and read (or maybe take a nap), and then, in late afternoon, a stroll downtown to sit on the porch of the Community Store and visit with folks who pass by.

Hoping your day is every bit as relaxing.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Collecting Island History

As many of you know, I enjoy preserving Ocracoke tales, stories, and history. Almost every day, it seems, I learn something new and interesting.

Today I received an email with some tantalizing tidbits about a somewhat obscure tale. The writer added this comment:

"All I that the two.....[fashionable] ladies who fetched up on Ocracoke [in the late 1800's] eloped.....and that it was just a dreadful family scandal -- the kind of thing that made old aunties swoon, but keeps family stories lively for the descendants."

Keep posted. Perhaps I'll share this whole story once I've collected all of the details.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Island Expressions

Ocracoke islanders, as many of you know, still speak with a distinctive brogue. In spite of outside influences, Ocracokers also continue to use a number of words and phrases from bygone eras. One of my favorites is "frock" meaning a woman's dress or gown. Though no longer common, you can still sometimes hear comments such as "Younguns, that's a mighty purty frock she's wearin', ain't it."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Island History

During World War II nearly 400 merchant vessels were sunk or damaged by German U-boats off the Atlantic coast. Almost 5000 individuals were killed or injured. On this date, Jue 24, 1942 the cargo ship, "Nordal," was lost at Ocracoke.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Storytellers' Week

This week Donald & Merle Davis are hosting their second Storytellers' Workshop for the season. We are fortunate to be able to reap the benefits.

Participants told wonderfully creative stories at the Preservation Museum this morning, and others will entertain us again tomorrow morning. On Friday evening we will be treated to a free storytelling evening with stories from a variety of traditions.

Donald is a year-round Ocracoke resident, and one of the finest nationally recognized professional storytellers. To learn more about Donald's workshops click here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

5 Minutes to the Beach; 4 Hours to the Doctor

It's wonderful to be at the beach, enjoying the waves only 5 minutes from our back door. But it's a different story when we go for a routine doctor's appointment. My friend, Lou Ann, went to see Dr. Redding yesterday in Elizabeth City (her eye is doing great, by the way!).

We left at 6:30 am to catch the 7 o'clock ferry. Arrived in E. City at 11 o'clock (with just two brief stops along the way). After lunch we headed home. We did stop a few times (at a roadside produce stand, a bakery, large hardware store, a pharmacy, a watch repair shop, and of course, for a quick dip in the ocean after getting back on the island). Arrived home at 7:30 pm. A 13 hour trip, primarily for a 15 minute eye appointment!

But it's worth it. We're back home now, enjoying quiet and tranquil Howard Street. Life is good.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Happy Father's Day!

After a Father's Day brunch at the Cafe Atlantic with Lou Ann and my daughter & her family I decided to spend much of the afternoon stretched out in the hammock in my back yard. Not a bad way to wile away a summer day.

Severe storms last night left puddles of rainwater everywhere, and the skies were gray and overcast, but no rain fell today. This evening we'll enjoy music by Martin & Gary as we eat our supper at the Jolly Roger.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Lightning & Thunder

Last night the evening sky was ablaze with lightning -- jagged, fractal streaks; flashes of bright, white light; and sheets of chromium in the distance. Thunder rumbled and rolled across the airways, but we were treated to only a small amount of rain.

Forecasts call for similar weather tonight. After several weeks of gorgeous, storm-free days and nights, perhaps tonight is the perfect evening to stay home and enjoy a video!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Roy & Elizabeth

Went to visit Roy & Elizabeth Parsons this afternoon in their gift shop, "Pamlico Gifts" on Lighthouse Road. At almost 83 years old, Roy is also one of the featured performers at the Wednesday evening "Ocracoke Opry." Elizabeth is a shell artist, and many of her creations are displayed in their tiny, but overflowing establishment.

Roy enjoys puns and rhymes, and entertained us for quite some time with island stories, tall tales, and descriptions of his model ships. With a twinkle in his eye and a smile always ready to burst forth, Roy is a delight to visit. Be sure to stop by on your next visit to the island. Just don't be in a hurry!

Thursday, June 17, 2004


What a wonderfully relaxing day on Ocracoke. Spent the afternoon kayaking on Pamlico Sound. Warm, shallow water, marsh grass, herons, egrets, turtles, twisted and gnarled trees, rich greens and deep blues and bright whites all made for a wonderful time.

8 o'clock brought the first Molasses Creek concert of the season.

Afterwards a walk on the beach revealed a sky studded with thousands of stars strewn across the heavens. Under foot the water mirrored the sky as thousands of microscopic phosphoresent creatures turned the ocean into magic. Diamonds above, and diamonds below!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Ocrafolk Opry

This evening at 8 pm the 2004 season of the Ocrafolk Opry begins. If you're planning a trip to the island this summer be sure to attend the Opry on Wednesday evening at Deepwater Theater on School Road. It's a lively combination of foot-stomping music, entertaining stories, and humorous tales. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

A Story Worth Repeating

One of our local papers, "The Ocracoker," reports that Marcus Lawson, 15-year-old Ocracoke high school student, recently saved an ocean swimmer from a dangerous rip current. He was surfing when he heard the cries for help, and paddled out for the rescue. Once he reached the swimmer he paddled for about ten minutes parallel to the beach before they were able to make it back to the shore.

Marcus reported that it was "a bit of a struggle" and that he was "pretty worn out."

With "The Ocracoker" we're proud to recognize Marcus' bravery and good character.

Please enjoy our beautiful beaches....and remember that ocean currents can be strong. If caught in a rip current swim parallel to the beach. When free from the current head for shore. Rip currents, though formidable, are generally narrow. If you have questions about ocean currents contact one of the park rangers. They will be happy to provide good advice.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Clamming on Hog Shoal

Today, my friend, Lou Ann, & I spent about 3 hours with Al & Linda Scarborough out in Pamlico Sound raking for clams. The sky was blue, the clouds white and billowy. The water was warm, with a slight breeze blowing from the South. We gathered enough clams for dinner, as well as extras for clam chowder some other night.

Several years ago I wrote a few paragraphs about clamming. You can read that account here.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Life Goes On

A lavish 60th birthday party for Ronnie Howard (founder & original owner of Howard's Pub) was planned for yesterday evening. Understandably, the party, which was to be co-hosted by Buffy Warner, was canceled because of Buffy's sudden and untimely death.

Everyone agreed, however, that Buffy would have wanted the party to go on. So the festivities have been rescheduled for tonight. Undoubtedly it will be a much more somber affair than originally planned.

In other news, the National Park Service has again, this afternoon, opened the base of the Ocracoke lighthouse for visitors. Many thanks to Gail for making this historic structure more accessible.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Island Tragedy

The Ocracoke community was shocked this morning to learn of the death of Buffy Warner, owner, with his wife, Anne, of Howard's Pub. His body was discovered just after midnight aboard his yacht. He had fallen down the stairway. Buffy was 53 years old, and is survived by his wife and two children, ages 10 & 12, as well as several older children who do not live on the island.

Funeral services will be held Monday at the Ocracoke United Methodist Church.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Life & Death

Several days ago Mr. Elisha (Ly-she) Ballance died. An octogenarian, Elisha was one of the last "old-time" native island fishermen. His funeral is today at 2 o'clock. We will miss his ready smile and kind ways.

On this date in 1942 the tanker "F.W. Abrams" was lost at Ocracoke, a casualty of the heavy U-boat activity in the north Atlantic between January & July, 1942.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Storytellers Spend a Week on the Island

Donald Davis, renowned storyteller, and his wife, Merle, are hosting their fifth annual storytelling workshop this week. Participants met islanders last night for a dessert social at the Methodist church recreation hall. This morning they explored nearby Portsmouth Island and Village. We're told that not a bug was to be seen!

We are looking forward to hearing their stories this week at the Ocracoke Preservation Museum, and at Deepwater Theater on Friday evening.

Monday, June 07, 2004

A Great Weekend

The fifth annual Ocrafolk Festival was a huge success. Hundreds of people enjoyed outstanding music, world-class storytelling, great food, lively dancing, and quality hand crafts.

The weekend wound down for two dozen of us aboard the schooner Windfall. Bob Zentz and Rick Lee, along with Captain Rob, entertained us with sea shanties, poems, and maritime stories as we sailed "in Blackbeard's wake" in Pamlico Sound.

If you missed this year's festival, consider making plans now for next year. The festival is always the first weekend in June -- and always a stellar experience.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ocrafolk Festival

'Twas a near perfect day for the fifth Ocracoke Music & Storytelling Festival. In spite of a brief rain shower early in the morning, the day turned out to be just right. Clouds kept the temperature down, especially in the afternoon.

Musicians, storytellers, cloggers, & mimes kept audiences' attention from three different stages, while artists and craftspeople along Howard Street & School Road sold pottery, carvings, artwork, and more.

We are all looking forward to an evening of more music and dance tonight in the school gymnasium where Molasses Creek will play for an old-time Ocracoke square dance.

Tomorrow the festival will wind down with more bluegrass & gospel music, as well as an afternoon auction.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Home Again

I was off-island for two days. Went to pick up my good friend, Lou Ann, at the train station in Virginia.

One of the most frequent inquiries we Ocracokers get is "What do you do on that island? Don't you get bored?" This is what it's like to be home again:

-- Caught the 4 o'clock Hatteras Inlet ferry, and arrived on the island about 40 minutes later.

-- Stopped at the beach for a late afternoon swim and walk on the beach.

-- Went to the Community Store to buy a dozen eggs, but saw Capt. Rob Temple and his wife, Sundae, on the deck of their boat, the schooner "Windfall." They invited us to sail with them on their sunset cruise.

-- When we docked, about 8:30, we saw Al Scarborough, and Fowler & Chloe O'Neal sitting on Jack Willis' dock. Walked over and visited with them . Fowler entertained us with stories of the sea and sailing, and old-time Ocracoke for almost an hour.

-- Wandered over to the Jolly Roger outdoor restaurant to hear Martin Garrish, Marcie, and Lou pick and sing until after 10 o'clock. Then we ordered fish and crabs for dinner.

-- Finally walked in the door at 11:30, happy to be home again. Island life is anything but boring!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Shipwrecks and Full Moons

A reader recently asked for more information about Ocracoke storms and shipwrecks. You can read more in our latest Ocracoke Newsletter. If you want to be notified when we post new articles on our newsletter just click on the "auto-join" button in the blue panel on the left.

The moon is full tonight. One of my favorite memories is sitting on the beach at sunset. The sun was spreading crimson sheets of color across the western horizon just as the silvery moon rose above the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It was grand.

Don't forget to walk outside and gaze at the moon tonight.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The Season Begins

Not only has the "season for visitors" begun (just note the numbers of bicycles, cameras, straw hats, and kayaks to be seen in the village), but today is also the official start of hurricane season. We can only hope that the Outer Banks will be spared this year.

At any rate, today is sunny and beautiful. No prospect of storms of any kind. Just an opportunity to stretch out in the hammock, relax and enjoy island life.