The legend of Mad Mag Howard lives on thanks to the hot, sweaty team of performers who braved the summer heat and shared the story from the back of a pick up truck in yesterday's Fourth of July parade.
Mad Mag Howard was kidnapped from her family in Maine by John Simon Howard (we all have those characters in our past!) and brought to Ocracoke Island in the late 1800's. By the 1920's she was known as an eccentric all around the island...the stories say that once she cut off her toe, branded her forehead with her iron, and cooked the family cat for her husband one night for supper! After her death the legend continues as folks here say they see her meandering around the Howard Street cemeteries!
Our float depicted the kitchen scene with Mad Mag dressed in purple and red clothing...foot bandaged and proped up on the stove with her long black hair adorned with shells and mini skulls! (That was my part!) Philip played the chagrined John Simon picking the cooked cat up out of the chamber pot. Jim Fineman, our houseguest and extraordinary potter, worked the crowd passing out Mad Mag dollars with the story printed on the back. Dave Frum drove the truck keeping all of us stable on the back...and Fiddler Dave Tweedie played the song, Paddy's Hollar, which features a verse of Mad Mag on his fiddle from the tailgate of the truck.
It was a great way to spend the afternoon...waving to friends and tourists and sharing the long-time story of Mad Mag. Oh, and just for your information, we won second place in the float division receiving a check for $150.00. We used the money to buy fresh shrimp for all the families who participated.
As darkness fell we all made our way to the Windfall for fireworks and a cake of red, white, and blue. The evening closed as we all joined in to sing the Star Spangled Banner..then rode our bikes home down sandy dark lanes...all the while looking for the ghost of Mad Mag Howard.
[Our current monthly Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Kunigunde Guth Howard, published June 30, 2005. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news061505.htm.]