Friday, April 29, 2005

Just a Quick Note

I've published more photos documenting the progress of my old house rehabilitation.

The exciting news is that the plumbing may be completed by this weekend and I'll be moving in right away. You can see more photos here.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ocracoke Observer

The May issue of our local newspaper, the "Ocracoke Observer," is hot off the press. Be sure to pick up a copy on your next visit. This month includes articles about our new street signs, news of the upcoming Ocrafolk Festival, information about local real estate issues, news from the post office, "Ask Aunt Blabby," articles about crabbing & fishing, guest editorials, and much more.

You can also read about Ocracoke's deputy, Jason Daniels, who will be biking around the village this season, helping to supervise pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

When you visit the island please remember to bike with traffic, and walk facing traffic. It's safe and courteous. It's also the law. Just remember -- bikes are vehicles and should travel with other vehicles.

Hope to see you soon!


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Shakespeare, Chaucer, Oxford, & Ocracoke

This evening Charles Temple (mate on the schooner Windfall and high school English teacher) helped me move several pieces of furniture into my new (rehabilitated) house. Afterwards we had dinner at the Flying Melon Restaurant (I ordered the oriental salad with scallops; Charles was in the mood for a juicy hamburger). I was happy to treat, not only because Charles was so kind as to give me a hand, but also because he is such a delightful conversationalist.

Charles is ecstatic that he will be participating in a program at Oxford this summer. He assures me that he plans on being "insufferable" when he returns to the island. Talk over dinner centered around C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and our favorite bookstores in London, New York, and Denver. OK, we also told bad jokes about one of our nearby states. (My apologies to all of our readers from that state. I know the jokes are grossly unfair, and that you hate them, but we'd had a beer or two. The jokes did provide a little balance to the evening's conversation, however.)


Monday, April 25, 2005

Full Moon

The heavens seemed somber and ominous yesterday. Intermittent dark clouds scudded across the night sky as I took my evening walk. When I rounded the harbor on the south side of the village I looked up to see the luminous moon peering from behind the edge of a ragged window in the clouds. All was bathed in a suffused glow.

I stopped to take it in. The silver lining of the clouds framed the blackness beyond. Nearer the horizon a few stars not intimidated by the lunar display sparkled to remind me of the vastness hidden from view. I walked on, content merely to have caught a glimpse of the unfathomable mystery.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Here Comes the Sun

After a day and a half of overcast skies, cool temperatures, and an occasional light drizzle the sun is back. The thermometer is only reading in the mid-50's but the white graveyard fence across the street is dappled with mid afternoon shadows, a blue jay is perched happily on the porch railing, and Howard Street is serene and quiet.

I guess most of the island's visitors are back on the beach enjoying the sand and the sea and the beach birds. Yesterday it seemed like everyone was in the village strolling from shop to shop. At least we were busy here at Village Craftsmen. It's nice to have a little mid-day rest this afternoon.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

We Even Get Busy on Ocracoke

Lately I've been missing a journal entry every now and then. I'm going to blame it on my employees. It seems like the only one here who has not had an accident or needed some medical attention lately is me. So I've had to actually WORK! And that means less time to write & post journal entries.

The good news is that everyone is healing and should be back to work soon (even if only part-time).

In the meanwhile I have not had an opportunity to stroll along the surf, or look for seashells, or watch the dolphins. Even so, life is good. The full moon casts soft shadows on my evening walks, cousin Blanche entertains me with island history, and the lighthouse keeps its silent watch over the village. What more could I ask?


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Howard Street

In 1835 the second "major thoroughfare" was cut through the village of Ocracoke. What had previously been only a foot path was widened to accomodate a horse and cart. This road intersected with the island's very first road (what today includes the lighthouse road and school road) near the present-day Deepwater Pottery. From there it continued to the sound shore, where the NPS Visitor Center and Preservation Museum are now.

When the state of North Carolina paved the road around the harbor in the mid-1950's they left the eastern section of this road as a sandy lane. Thinking about all of his kinfolk who lived along this lane, Stacy Howard nailed a sign to one of his trees. It read "East Howard Street."

Nowadays it is only the old time Ocracokers who refer to our sandy lane as "East Howard Street." Most folks simply call it "Howard Street."


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Miss Dallie

Dallie finally got back home yesterday and stopped by to show us the wonders of modern medicine. In addition to inserting pins into her broken wrist bones, the surgeon has attached a sophisticated metal traction devise to her arm and thumb. A more complicated alternative to a cast, the traction apparatus should keep her bones properly aligned to facilitate healing. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to do much, so it may be a while before she is able to return to work full time.

In spite of her injury, maybe Dallie will be able to enjoy the terrific spring weather we are finally getting. Today, like yesterday, is shaping up to be warm and at least partly sunny. Even if she can't work in her garden, Dallie can sit on her deck with a glass of iced tea and read a good book.


Monday, April 18, 2005

A Trip to the Airport

I took Lou Ann to the Norfolk airport today. She didn't want to leave.....and I didn't want her to leave, but at least she'll be back in time for the Ocrafolk Festival the first weekend in June. We had a wonderful visit and made quite a lot of progress putting finishing touches on my grandparents' house. We even had an opportunity to sit on the pizer (that's the front porch for y'all who don't speak the island dialect) and prop our feet up on the new railing.

I arrived back home at 8 pm (it was a twelve and a half hour day), but at least the wind had died out and the temperature felt more like spring again.

I stopped at a bakery and bought a loaf of freshly baked bread, and I ran into Home Depot for a few electrical supplies. Tomorrow morning it's back to the Village Craftsmen counter. If you're on the island stop by and say hello.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Sunday Afternoon Missive.....

Dear Friends,
Philip has asked me to be the guest writer for the day. Let me introduce myself. My name is Lou Ann, and I live in Northern Indiana where I am a teacher, a storyteller, a community member.

It is a lovely Sunday afternoon on the island...the air is scented with cedar....the sky is azure blue....and the storm is over. It has been cold and windy for days...everyone has been talking about the weather. The island attire has been rubber boots, jeans and sweatshirts. Even though the storm raged and the tide came up in the village, there was still so much to do! The kids performed at the Community Center and local folks kicked up their heels for the square dance. We spent hours biking around in the wind watching pelicans and loons huddled up into the harbor...checking on friends and neighbors who might need cars or lawn mowers or bikes moved to higher ground. This was my first nor'easter, and I have to admit I did enjoy it!

I first came to Ocracoke Island to participate in a storytelling workshop hosted by Donald and Merle Davis who live on the island. The workshop was held during the Summer Solstice. That is how I met Philip....Merle sent me to him to inquire about an island celebration. I have always loved the many midnight gatherings on a lonely patch of Indiana countryside.

On my first visit here..I was caught up in the magic of the community...I am sure that is how many of you feel. Oh, I carried the usual things home...wet towels, creased paper back novels from reading on the beach...seashells, island crafts, a sunburn...but something else tugged at me as I rode my bike through the village especially late at night with the moon like silk on the water. This feeling of community began to surface as I listened to Molasses Creek play at the Deep Water Theatre and Martin Garrish at the Jolly Roger. These events weren't isolated..their lives were wrapped around each other like the ribbons on the May pole. I decided that the feeling of community was the most important gift I could take home to my own small hometown...something we all can do..Sunday night potlucks, porch lights on to welcome friends and neighbors..sharing of thoughts, tools. My own community is better off because I have been here.

I find myself visiting more...spending the summers working at the Village Craftsmen (be sure to stop by and say hello this summer!!) OK, let's me honest, yes I do come to see Philip, I think you already knew that!! But I also come to become part of the community...get to know folks...wash tables in the community center after events..clean up after hurricanes (let's hope that doesn't happen this summer!) a potluck.

So wherever you are...tonight turn on your porchlight..take a lovely glass of wine out on the stoop or porch or with the is wherever you are.

Lou Ann

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Flat Cat Cafe

Yesterday evening a score or more of teens and pre-teens (as well as a handful of us old codgers) braved the rising tide (Highway 12 in front of the Pony Island Motel was under about 6-8 inches of salt water) to listen to music performed by Ocracoke's youth.

The entertainment was quite impressive. A steady offering of rock, rap, folk, and popular music highlighted the abilities of second graders through high schoolers. There was no shortage of talent or stage presence. The performances were truly wonderful. But maybe you just needed to be there to fully appreciate how good they were.

Of course we ended with a traditional Ocracoke square dance. It was great to see how many young people enoyed ending the evening to "swing your partner" and "promenade."

On your next visit to the island look for announcements for the Flat Cat Cafe and come on out. You won't be disappointed.


Friday, April 15, 2005

Howling Winds

[Our internet service has been so unreliable that I haven't been able to post for two days. Keep checking the site. I'll write and post whenever possible.]

I drove to Norfolk on Wednesday to pick Lou Ann up at the airport. We arrived at Hatteras Inlet at 10:30 pm, but ferries hadn't run since 8 o'clock. The wind was so strong and gusty that the captain didn't think he could negotiate the turn at marker 13 in the dark. The channel is both shallow and narrow there.

We spent a cold night in the pickup but the ferry ran at 6 am. It's been windy ever since. I've heard reports of wind gusts over 60 mph, and extremely rough passage on the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries before those operations were shut down.

Talk in the village is now focused on the tides. Water has been lapping at the roads in places and islanders have started parking vehicles wherever there's a small hill or rise.

Island life is seldom dull.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Civic Duty

In a small village like Ocracoke it's important to stay informed. Unfortunately, I've missed a number of recent community meetings & get togethers.

Members of NCCAT (North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching) were here over the weekend and I was invited to a Seafood Fest hosted by the Board of Trustees & Board of Directors, but I had to work. This is the organization that will be taking charge of the decommisioned Coast Guard station. It is a wonderful group of people and we welcome them to Ocracoke.

Unfortunately I had to work this afternoon also* and missed a meeting to consider a public transportation system on the island -- perhaps a trolley to shuttle folks around the village during the busy tourist season. I'll find out what transpired and post a report in a future journal.

Tomorrow night is the monthly Civic & Business Association Meeting, but again I will not be in attendance. I will be in Norfolk picking Lou Ann up at the airport. You can always keep abreast of these meetings here. Links to minutes of recent meetings are listed on this page.

*Miss Dallie, whom you may know from Village Craftsmen, broke her wrist two weeks ago and has not been able to work. She had surgery today, but I haven't heard yet how she's doing. We trust all went well and that she will have a speedy recovery.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Nineteenth Century Shipwrecks

During the 1800’s many Ocracoke natives were involved in the seafaring professions, most as sailors, captains, and owners of several of the many schooners that plied the waters off the Atlantic coast.

As grim testimony to the importance to Ocracoke of seafaring activity more than 100 years ago consider the following April dates:

April 7, 1887 – The sharpie "Hattie" was stranded on "Legged Lump" [a shoal near Ocracoke Inlet],

April 8, 1861 – The brig "Black Squall" was wrecked at Ocracoke [folks who have taken my Creekside Ghost & History Walk may remember this wreck and the part it played in Ocracoke’s second murder],

April 9, 1885 – The schooner "Sudie," which hailed from Ocracoke, was stranded nearby on "Tarpin Shoal,"

April 10, 1885 – The schooner "General Banks" struck Ocracoke beach one mile south of Hatteras Inlet,

April 14, 1895 – The schooner "Addie Henry" wrecked at Ocracoke,

April 15, 1893 – The schooner "E.M. Burton" was stranded at Hatteras Inlet.

This winter several large sections of wooden sailing ships were uncovered on the beach north of the Pony Pen. Who knows, perhaps they came from one or more of the vessels wrecked in April many years ago.

[A technical note: Recently our area internet service provider has been having connection & interference problems. Sometimes we do not have reliable service for days at a time. This is often the reason for missing daily posts. They have decided to discontinue wireless service on Ocracoke so we have contracted with another company. More reliable service should be available by the end of next week. Keep checking our daily journal. We'll post whenever possible.]


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Suspect Apprehended

Yesterday morning, after the big Howard Street car heists, the prime suspect was arrested after yet another car theft. I understand he walked on to the Hatteras ferry and was picked up on the other side of the inlet.

Reports were circulating throughout the village yesterday that a drifter had been wandering around, generally making a nuisance of himself, acting bizarrely, and getting himself into minor trouble with the sheriff's deputies. His antics seem to have culminated in truly aberrant behavior. I'm told that in custody he was acting very strangely, even aggressively.

One comforting thought is that it's difficult to flee from justice on Ocracoke. Thankfully this sort of thing is rare on the island. Besides, people who cause this kind of trouble seldom find their way here. So I'm sure we'll return to our normally tranquil lives, but we'll have the story of the April car thefts to talk about for years to come!


Friday, April 08, 2005

Midnight Madness

The phone rang last night around midnight, waking me from a sound sleep. My mind raced. What could be wrong? The preacher was on the line. "Philip, come on down here [the parsonage is halfway down Howard Street]. Your pickup truck has just crashed into the fence."

Sure enough, when I got to her house my Toyota was blocking the lane, backed into Joyce's neighbor's fence. And her pickup was too!

Joyce was up late, working in her office, when she heard her truck start up [she had left the key in the ignition] and saw the headlights go on. She immediately rushed out and yelled at the car thief who promptly backed the vehicle into the fence across the street and then fled down the road.

Joyce called the police, and then went outside to move her truck. Before she could get to her pickup she saw headlights racing toward her and retreated to the porch, only to witness my Toyota swerve around her vehicle, crash into her fence and then back up into the neighbor's fence also. The perpetrator fled again, this time out into the darkness.

By the time I got there the deputies had arrived with their trusty drug dog. The dog quickly picked up a scent and they were off. Unfortunately the trail led back down to the Pelican restaurant where a drifter had been run off the parking lot earlier for suspicious behavior. They resumed the search, this time in the other direction.

I went home and crawled back in bed. I'm sure I'll hear the rest of the saga later today, but my guess is that whoever is to blame can't hide for long.

High drama for this normally sleepy little village. Indeed!


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Cabinets, Countertops, & Corner Boards

With the help of neighbors I've been busy with house details this week. The rehabilitation of my grandparents' house is moving along and I'm hoping to be able to move in before June 1, although there will still be plenty to do on the exterior. Mostly, at this point, I'm waiting on the plumber (and then the building inspector). Look for interior house photos in the next week or so.

In the meanwhile, the weather has been super. Warm, pleasant days with plenty of sunshine. Maybe I'll get to the beach for a while this afternoon. 'Twould be a shame not to.


Monday, April 04, 2005


As a future Ocracoke historical plaque might state, "On this date in 2005 nothing happened." Not that this is a bad thing. But the village sure is quiet. Easter week visitors have mostly left the island and only a few folks have been out & about today.

It's wonderful for everyone here because it's a warm, bright, sunny day, just perfect for strolling around the village or walking along the surf.


Sunday, April 03, 2005


The wind has been blowing all morning -- 25 - 35 mph. Gusts may be as high as 45 mph. Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries are not running, and I've heard reports that water is on the highway on Hatteras Island.

Besides that, it feels like winter is back. The temperature is only in the low 50's, but at least it's bright and sunny (yesterday it was warm but wet). The forecast calls for more wind through tonight and tomorrow (though diminishing), and warmer temperatures in the next few days.

It's a good day to curl up with a good book!


Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Molly Lovejoy, budding young island violinist, who turns 11 (?) today. Molly has been taking lessons from my son-in-law, Fiddler Dave, and practicing on my father's fiddle. It's nice to know that my dad's violin is being used to further Ocracoke's musical tradition.