Saturday, August 30, 2008

Teenagers & Knives

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my picnic table opening clams when two animated teenagers barged into the back yard. "Can we have a knife?" the fourteen year old boy asked.

"Would this one do?" I asked, holding up the knife I was using.

"No, we need a bigger one.," the thirteen year old girl explained.

"Sure, they're hanging on the wall, just to the left of the refrigerator," I said.

The fourteen year old walked into the house and came out with the knife. "We're cutting up a watermelon," he offered. "Can we use Amy & David's outdoor table? They're not home."

"I'm sure it's OK," I shrugged, and they were gone down the path.

This is one of the many reasons I love calling Ocracoke home. Consider:
  • I know both of the young people, and I know they are responsible teenagers. I didn't need to ask them what they wanted with a knife.
  • I know all of their parents.
  • I know that their parents wouldn't hesitate to trust their children with a knife.
  • I know that even if they cut themselves I wouldn't have to worry about a lawsuit.
I am certain there other communities in the US where adults can trust teenagers like this, but I'm guessing they are rare. If you live in such a community I want to say two things:
  1. Congratulations!
  2. Please leave a comment and tell us about your community.
By the way, when they returned the knife they brought me a slice of watermelon. Of course!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the wreck of the Victoria S, and Ocracoke's first automobile accident. You can read it here.


  1. Anonymous7:33 AM

    This story reminds me of why I love Ocracoke. I have 3 children and feel fortunate that they can grow up in a similar community in VA. We are a rural area on the Northern Neck with the Rappahannock River. However because we are not an island, growth has reared its ugly head. With a continuous influx of new residents I find that I often do not know everyone on the street as I did growing up here as a child. On the other hand the locals remain a tightknit community and help from a neighbor is always there!

  2. Anonymous4:39 PM

    Don't these teenagers have a home with knives? They barged into your back yard Barging to me means they did not say Hello or excuse me or May I please borrow a knife.

    I know when I would visit my friend her father expect me to say "Hello Mr. Shea how are You?" and I should respond " I'm fine thank you ."

    Actually , it has served me in go stead
    simple pleasantries

    in some places appear to be scarce

    Then they ask You if it is okay to use some one else's Table Gee?? Did they clean up? did they compost the watermelon rinds or pickle them ??

    Are all your knives sharp ? dull knives are more dangerous then sharp knives I don't think I would loan a knife .

    Where were their parents why weren't they asking their parents for a knife why didn't the person that sold them the watermelon cut it for them??

  3. About the teenagers and the knives -- the teenagers were incredibly polite. I suppose "barged into the back yard" was inaccurate. "Ran excitedly and with enthusiasm" best describes how they came into my back yard. They are young people whom I know well. And they know that they are welcome in my yard anytime. This is a village and we feel more like family. They didn't buy the watermelon. They grew it themselves...along with several kinds of vegetables. They were with a larger group of teenagers (and, I discovered, an adult as well), and they were delivering tomatoes to elderly folks in the village.That's why they were near my house. They were leaving tomatoes on Blanche's porch. Amy & David's table is in their front yard, and they were delighted to have the young people use it. The young folks even invited two visiting teenagers from across the lane to share the watermelon. And yes, they cleaned everything up, just as I would expect from the responsible young people I know that they are. I hope this helps clarify the situation.

  4. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Perhaps the 2nd response needs to really visit Ocracoke...

  5. Anonymous12:25 PM

    Or perhaps the 2nd responder should NOT visit Ocracoke and should stay in the big city where people are afraid to look each other in the eye!

  6. Anonymous12:57 PM

    I pity the 2nd responder. It must be very difficult to be that miserable. Bah Humbug!

  7. Wow. I'm surprised that #2 even reads this blog. Yikes.

  8. Anonymous11:58 PM

    Amy Yikes! I am surprised you read this blog. Is It unusual that a Watermelon would grow on oracoke Island ? Not all watermelons taste great. So I guess they were eager to see that they had produced a sweet melon from the garden patch. You do call gardens patches down on orcoke do you not? Yes Phillip has learned his first lesson in reporting. Editorializing is a no no. Hemingway would have said "Mr. P's nap suddenly ended when a group of youths screaming with delight thrust a swollen melon into his lap. We need a knife they cried we want to share this God's gift of bounty we want to share this with the neighborhood.

    My blade is on the wall he responded Taketh it to the table to reap the bounty

  9. Anonymous12:32 AM

    Wow. I can only assume that # 8 is the same person as #2. Philip can choose to write however he pleases: this is, after all, his blog, and he doesn't present it as "reporting", so if he wants to editorialize, he can do that, and his word choice is just that - HIS. If you want to make your own word choices, anonymous, get your own blog!

  10. Anonymous7:47 AM

    Yeah. this says leave a comment not a life story.

  11. Anonymous8:13 AM

    Previous poster #2/#8 rebuttal:

    Journal from Journalism right? Journalism as in News paper News letter -- up to date happenings- g I suppose an attention grabbing headline. was unintended???...

    Now the Headline read Teenagers and Knives it was not sweet melon or Wild Seed or Juice runs down my chin...

    It "screamed" teenagers and knives that JUMPS off a page!!! what an imagination I have -- just like when yesterday-- I saw a cyclist leaving the parking lot of an up scale apartment complex--he was carrying a spear gun yes a spear gun !!!!. I guess he is borrowing a spear gun from a neighbor . He was pedaling really fast -- as it seemed he was headed in that direction of a trailer park across the street. (Don't you love Urban Planning.) I wonder if he is going ride his bike 60 miles to the gulf of mexico for some spear fishing.

  12. Just to clarify...I'm really grateful to Philip for all the news, and for capturing so well the spirit of community that defines Ocracoke. I'm happy that LOTS of folks read the blog and care enough to leave comments. Apologies for my impulsive and judgemental comment.

  13. I, for one, cannot believe all of these comments on this teen ager and knife issue. Ocracoke is steeped in friendship and community and the way it used to be. At least the way I grew up, and frankly, the town I live in now.
    My town is a small rural town in Northern Indiana, a community of working folks, old houses, and lots of children. Our children actually walk home from school. I will say it again, they walk home from school. Alone or in groups, they fill the sidewalks dragging their bookbags after the school bell...all ages. The older children walk with the younger ones and they don't even get paid to do it!
    I had a swarm of bees in my house the other day. Without thinking I knocked, no, I banged on my neighbor's door where five boys live. Within minutes, three of the teen aged boys were on my roof running around with cans of Raid. (I did provided goggles.) Within minutes the whole neighborhood was over offering advice and dinner, since I wasn't going into my house.
    I did not think about law suits or danger...I thought about the bees and the boys were thrilled to be part of the process and the community. (They also help catch bats.) Did I say I did this without thinking? I would have done this with thinking as well, I might add.
    This neighborhood I live in has children playing, biking, running til dark. We watch movies outside..cook out and have ice cream parties together. It is called faith and community and just living without a bubble of fear over our heads.
    I am glad to say that the two places I call home, Northern Indiana and Ocracoke, share the same values.
    Lou Ann

  14. Anonymous7:27 PM

    Why are bees at your house suddenly the emergency for the neighborhood youth?. Is there not a bee keeper near by that could have been called and he could have SAVED the bees Instead some of God's creature have been KILLED by a thoughtless with out thinking adult. Now bees are disappearing from the face of the Earth a disease called collapsing colony syndrome. bees what few are left pollinate the crops and and flowers but I guess you knew that. I would not want my child injured by falling off the neighbors roof Children are not your unpaid servants to perform tasks you deem necessary Why can't you call a professional to deal with the situation Certainly there is a bee keeper in your farming community. But it is too late now. Furthermore knowing your neighbors are one think but to depend on them or take advantage of their good will is selfish. You mentioned five teenagers I guess the really bright ones stayed in side wanting no part of the SWAT team detail LOL

  15. Anonymous7:43 PM

    Lou Ann I did a google search, you know, and there is such a thing as an Indiana Beekeepers Association. It is a nice web site there is even a Swarm Call List PDF file you know to down load. I can understand the other poster If we are worried about aborting babies by do we kill a productive insect like the bee. There is a better way to deal with this situation that is why the Indiana Beekeepers Association They want to Promote Better beeKEEPing throughout Indiana

  16. Let me clear up the bee situation before it definitely gets out of hand. These were yellow jackets who had drilled through to my bathroom and were swarming in my house...inside my house. I called an entomologist who dealt with the situation after the Raid did not work. Did we exterminate the bees, yes we did. There were 15,000 eggs in my bathroom wall. Do I feel guilty about it...I am sorry I do not. Let me also say that I lived on a farm for most of my life RAISING bees, carrying queen bees for hundreds of miles in my sock in the winter to save my hives. I know bees, I also know that yellow jackets DO NOT belong in my bathroom. The bee man that I called
    is a biologist from Purdue University. Hope that clears up a thing or two. Lou Ann

  17. Anonymous3:25 AM

    You did not call them yellow jackets which is a Hornet-- you called them bees. I am sorry they drilled into your bathroom. However you have to admit they perform a role on God's earth feeding on caterpillars and destructive insects . Bees make honey Hornets too pollinate flowers thus performing a critical function in the balance of the ecosystem but I guess you knew that.. If you think I am lecturing you fear not, if something is put out there for discussion on a BLOG along Al Gores Internet the Information SuperHighway lets get the Facts straight -- What is out of hand to you??? see how rumors get started, a critical missing bit of information the fact made it seem the teenagers were the hero and solved the problem was not the case -- You did -you did Finally call professionals but You did not tell us that -- Inquiring minds want to know A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  18. Anonymous3:44 PM

    I'm really sorry that my mom got on your blog and begat all sorts of silly nonsense about teenagers and knives. She usually confines her tantrums to government pencil pushers sitting at a desk somewhere, and I am only forced to listen to one side of her diatribes, although I suspect the fellow on the other end barely gets a word in edgewise, so I wouldn't say I'm missing much. Wait a minute, maybe she has a point, how do you know you wouldn't be sued? Maybe the people that have been your friends for all of your life would throw it away in a heartbeat for a chance at your life savings? I guess I'm just paranoid from going up in the 80s, but if the government ever tries to take my guns there will be another Civil War.

  19. Man - I've got to start reading Philip's blogs more regularly.

  20. Re: comment 11 -

    Perhaps Philip, in naming his blog, meant one of the PRIMARY definitions of the word "journal" (Merriam-Webster: "an account of day-to-day events"; Wiktionary: "a dairy or daily record of a person"), not one of the SECONDARY definitions (M-W: "a daily newspaper"; Wiktionary: "a newspaper or magazine dealing with a particular subject".

  21. Oops...that Wiktionary definition should say "a DIARY...", not a DAIRY. We've got enough animals around here with the bees/hornets/yellowjackets/etc, let's not add COWS! :)

  22. Anonymous3:28 AM

    Too late, the habitat for cows is disappearing at a rate that would make grown men from Lake Wobegone cry. Also, but for the fact white monoliths suddenly appear in the fields drawing these inquisitive by nature beasts- to it. They gather round truly drawn to this item and day by day as I dive by on my way to the library I notice it slowly melting away as if these gentle creatures were here wait let me do a google search --- I'm back oh gosh it is something called a salt lick.

  23. Anonymous6:26 AM

    Now that everyone has calmed down and has amble time to start breathing regularly I would like to discuss the bat situation. These teenagers I suppose that catch bats that are in the house. One might step back and ask How did the bat get in the house.

    Oh it flew down the chimney. Did it? Does this mean that there is an opening in the chimney cap where there should not be one? Close inspection and proper steps to maintain one's home are in order.

    I suspect that there is some separation with the chimney cap.

    Bats should not be in the house. The Web (Thank you Al Gore) has many many pages dealing with the proper handling of a bat. Since a bat should not be in the house perhaps it is disoriented and SICK maybe it has RABIES it has been suggested that the animal control officials should be contacted to determine if IT is rabid and well that would be a concern for all.

    Returning to the yellowjackets. My first experience with yellowjackets was when as a child my vacationing family stopped at a wayside picnic table. oh I guess I am dating my self there -- and the man mowing the lawn at this park warned us children to avoid the play ground "there were yellow jackets over there." I thought the old guy was seeing things -- I for one Did not see any Yellow jackets on the swings.

    I have since learned what he was talking about.

    Also, the most recent encounter I had -- I was stung six or seven or more times by yellow jackets, hornets Whatever -- rising from beneath the decking of a little used dock on a lake where my daughter was attending a rowing camp.

    Now, I turned to run, I tripped, fell flat on my face -- thought I was going into the duckweed to be Gator Bait in this lake. Prone, I was probably stung a few more times.

    Flight or fight I tried to flee in the stupid sandals I was wearing and, well, I was in shock to some extent, my body was attempting to deal with the poison in my system I staggered to my car in which I have a first aid kit and my first thought was to pour the iced tea drink I had on the bites/stings/wounds I hoped the tannins from the tea would neutralize the wounds or something. it was an awful experience being stung repeatedly. ( Perhaps this fed into my disbelief that Children would be called upon to deal with a nest a nest that at the time no one knew how LARGE it was .) And to top it all off I gathered my wits about me to warm the others and the Head Coach said "Oh yeah I knew about that nest" Did he place a warning sign up do not enter. NO He didn't. I mean how Thoughtless. Had I seen that I would not have ventured out for photos of the rowers bringing the boats off the lake. Now I don't know where you work but at my place of employment we are given safety talks on a regular basis. So safety is not in the back of my mind It is what I measure my actions by -- I try to think of the safety hazards of a situation. If the company I work for is concerned about me as an employee I should be concerned.

    I should not have assumed it was safe to go out on that dock .

    When the subject of squirrels is discussed I'll tell you my potty squirrel story.

  24. Having a bat in my house is definitely not I enjoy living. I usually have a bat once or twice a year. My house is old as is my neighborhood, and we all get bats. On the same night that I got the bat, my neighbor had one and so did our public library. They called my son and his wife over to get it out. I think he is the new Batman. I used to have my own personal Batman. He was a gruff old fella and drove up to the house in his old truck and his big rubber boots. He didn't talk much, but he never left until that bat was found. Then he gently carried it outside to the night winds and let it go. These bats do not have rabies, they just caught in our chimneys. I have had my house looked at and a screen put over my chimney, but bats can get in anywhere. There is one good thing, we have very few mosquitoes where I live. Lou Ann

  25. Wow!!! I'm only commenting here because I felt so left out... ;-) I feel I know Ocracoke, though I don't live there, and I realize that a community so close knit will always be misunderstood by those who have never experienced such a place. I have had the absolute pleasure of talking with and meeting a few islanders, and though I'm positively certain I have left no impression on any of them, they have all left a huge impression on me. If you've been to Ocracoke and... you aren't a blithering idiot..., you know in your heart I'm right, too