Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chimney Man

For the past several days I have been tearing down a chimney. We haven't used it for many years, and it is in the middle of the display space at Village Craftsmen. In fact, the top had already been knocked off the last time we re-roofed the building. So I started the attack on Saturday. After about twenty minutes of beating on it with a sledge hammer I was about to give up (it was solid concrete block, with a little bit of decorative brick work), since I couldn't see any progress at all.

Finally I noticed a small crack. After it widened a bit I began driving a heavy chisel into the crack, then a crowbar. It was tough work, but finally I was rewarded with just a large pile of rubble.

I wondered why I hadn't hired someone to tear down the chimney. Then I remembered a conversation that my brother and I had recently. Neither one of us remembers our parents ever hiring anyone for anything. My mother took care of the house and the cooking (she was a typical stay-at-home mom of the 1950s). My father was a welder. After work he tackled whatever jobs needed to be done. He cut our hair (even gave my mother permanent waves, and I never went to a barber until college), painted the house, tuned the car, added a new kitchen to the house, repaired the furnace and appliances, even killed chickens for supper. My brother and I cut the grass and helped do other household chores.

So I guess that's why I didn't hire someone to do a job I was capable of doing myself. But maybe I should have; it was a lot of work for a senior citizen!

Here's a photo of Chimney Man wielding his sledge hammer:

And one of Chimney Man taking a much needed break:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter celebrates the majestic live oaks on Ocracoke Island. You can read it here.

To read about Philip's new book, Digging up Uncle Evans, History, Ghost Tales, & Stories from Ocracoke Island, please click here.


  1. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Now I am not Candice Olsen or Eddie Ross but many welcome the warmth a hearth lends to a room via the focal point/decorative nature of a fireplace and the surround --i am surprised you removed it. If as you say the flue was closed off-- are there not gas inserts on the market or some people use a decorative screen in front of the firebox I wonder why you removed it it -was it a fire hazard? In any event people with fireplaces often place floral arrangements in the fire box as a decorative element during the non fire place season or they create a romantic atmosphere with candles and mirrors. I guess there is no need for a little romance at the Village craftsman. Some just paint the brick the wall color to make it disappear visually. I guess you don't hire someone to do the interior decorating either!!!!!

    Yeah the respirator was a good idea as there could be asbestos or lead paint debris there are trained professional for that and certain codes to follow as you have a business--- did you apply for a demolition permit did you plan on recycling the bricks for a walkway or are you sending them to the land fill or dumping them in the ocean?

  2. Anonymous3:52 PM

    What a shame that some folks feel the need to be antagonistic in their blog comments. Ocracoke is the place I go where people seem a little kinder, a bit more live and let live. Sad...

  3. Anonymous5:08 PM

    I don't know why you didn't hire Bill.

  4. Anonymous9:02 PM


    You should have invited a few old friends over and cracked open a couple bottles of wine.

    They would have had that chimney down and out the door in two minutes flat.


  5. Anonymous7:57 AM

    I think romance blooms on the island with...or without...chimneys.

  6. That looks like a job I would have Don in the middle of! We actually have a fireplace that has been closed off and roofed over that needs to be torn out. He might have to consult you for advice. I kind of like Leonard's idea though!
    Have a good day!

  7. Anonymous6:01 AM

    Why does an honest but difficult question seem antagonistic. If one lives on an island a closed system of sorts what do Island residents do with day to day trash not to mention demolition debris? I think it bears witness. What happens when an island resident flushes his or her toilet? where does the effluent travel to. Is there a waste water treatment plant? Is recycling a high priority to residents is residential population capped on the island --are building permits rarely granted ? Permits generate even though this is a blog on the internet televison has the equal time doctrine capital to pay for county services and perhaps deter the undesirable activity. Oh yes those of us not so fortunate to live on an island but live on the planet Earth as we all do we all should recognize we are stewards of this planet and need to speak freely of our concerns It is called the second amendment to the constitution and even though this is the internet are the get off this blog notion unaware of the equal time doctrine

  8. Sir, or Madam, following are several reasons why your comments and questions are considered antagonistic:
    • You often do not read the postings carefully, or do not consider them thoughtfully. For example, there was no hearth at Village Craftsmen, just a chimney with flue. The flue was not closed off. The top of the chimney had been demolished, and no longer extended through the roof. It was unusable and blocked customers’ views and passage through the store. The chimney was concrete block, not brick. To my knowledge, there is no romance transpiring in my craft gallery that requires candles, mirrors, and floral arrangements, or at least I hope not.
    • To wonder about codes and permits is understandable. To inquire if I got permits or followed codes (without knowing anything about our local ordinances) is challenging. Such comments sound like personal attacks.
    • To even suggest that I just dumped the debris in the ocean is offensive. The debris is being disposed of in a legal and ethical manner.
    • Your comments are often phrased in run-on sentences which are not only difficult to read and often unclear, but which also suggest a degree of belligerence.
    • You mentioned the second amendment. This is the second amendment to our constitution: "a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." What this has to do with free speech I can’t imagine. Perhaps you meant the first amendment. If that is the case, you should have done better research. While I strongly support our first amendment and your right to free speech, I also have the right to delete comments from this journal, which I shall do as necessary (see guidelines below). If this is not acceptable to you, I suggest you start your own blog.

    Guidelines for comments to our Ocracoke Journal:
    • Comments & questions should address published posts or other topics of interest regarding Ocracoke Island or the Outer Banks.
    • Comments should be limited to one or two issues and be phrased in polite, civil language.
    • Comments should be written in complete, easy to understand English sentences.
    • I reserve the right to delete any comments that I find unhelpful, unnecessarily challenging, or objectionable in any way. This is a personal journal. There are ample opportunities, for people who are interested, to publish blogs with their own thoughts and comments.

  9. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Way to go Phillip. I not only loved your reply comments I also got several laughs from them as well. I log onto your blog everyday to see how life is on your beautiful island. I certainly hope that one persons comments don't spoil this for the rest of us. We visit Ocracoke for our family vacation every year, please don't stop blogging, it helps get me through the long cold MD winter months. Your posts are the best, keep em' coming. Lisa Maempel

  10. Anonymous7:53 PM

    If this is a blog about ocracoke island and the day to day happenings of an individual on ocracoke island perhaps these questions are put to this Everyman for the purpose of learning the nitty gritty of island Life -- if people want to laugh hysterically at something look on line for the Hyde County notes published back in 2008 regarding residents questioning the need to pay for trash pick-up even if they have a dumpster or live on the island part time. Perhaps the fees are to ensure the summer folk don't entirely trash the place before/after they go back where they came. Swan Quarter has some demanding residents.

  11. Anonymous11:28 AM

    I think to truly appreciate Ocracoke's trash service you have to ride the ferry the first week of August parked just downwind of the trash truck. With your windows down because it's 100 degrees inside your car...

    Truly a humbling experience. ;o)

    And Philip, it looks as if your crowbar is doing it's Cobra imitation. Enjoy your new space in the shop. ssd