Organizers of yesterday's Portsmouth Island Homecoming estimated that more than 400 people graced the once vibrant village with their presence. The theme of the day was "Honoring the Life Savers." Among the restored Portsmouth Island buildings is the imposing Life Saving Station, one of only a very few of the nation's historic USLSS structures still standing and in pristine condition.
The Station was open to allow visitors access to all of the rooms, including the sleeping quarters (with beds and trunks). But everyone's preferred destination was the tower. Up two steep flights of steps (really permanently installed ladders), the lookout tower afforded a grand view of the village, surrounding marsh and creeks, Pamlico Sound and beyond, and Ocracoke across the inlet.
Outside on the wrap-around porch I felt a special connection to this place as I read my grandfather's name on the list of brave and dedicated surfmen who had served at this station.
Friends of Portsmouth Island put together a program that included a hymn sing at the Methodist Church, brief speeches by representatives of the National Park Service and the US Coast Guard, local music, and a reading of Portsmouth Island history. The highlight of the afternoon was a demonstration of the historic "beach apparatus" and an authentic life saving drill, complete with Lyle gun and breeches buoy.
We'll be posting photos sometime in the near future.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of the eulogy given at the funeral service for island native Muzel Bryant who died in February at the age of 103. You can read it here.