Sam Jones was a wealthy industrialist from Swan Quarter, NC who married Ocracoke native Ruth Kelly. Sam always had a warm spot in his heart for the island. He made major contributions to the island churches, to the fire & rescue squad, to help care for the Ocracoke ponies, and to various families and individuals in need.
Sam was eccentric however. The large homes he built (including what are now known as the Castle Bed & Breakfast and Berkeley Manor) were constructed with local labor and without formal blueprints. Sam often stood by and ordered changes as the carpenters worked. Today, the buildings have had some remodeling, but they still retain evidence of Sam's character. Dormer windows look directly into adjacent dormer windows, the roof line is oddly asymetrical, and the step risers are, for most people, uncomfortably short.
I was honored yesterday to be invited to an afternoon get-together at the Flying Melon Cafe hosted by Sam's son, Charlie (Charlie and I are 3rd cousins). Charlie commented that his father was such a colorful character that someone really should write his story. He was known to have his pilot fly him to the island in the middle of the night just for a haircut. He might unexpectedly pay a neighbor's grocery bill at the Community Store. One time he flew to the island with brand new dresses for all the women in the church choirs. He even chose time in jail rather than pay taxes he felt were unjust.
After our meal yesterday Roy Parsons entertained us with his music (Roy had worked for Sam for many years), and we shared stories of Sam and Ocracoke. Charlie remembered with a smile the time his daddy rode his palamino horse into their living room. (Charlie's mama was not always so pleased with Sam's antics.)
Many thanks to Charlie and his family for including us in a celebration of his family's connection with Ocracoke.
[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.]