Monday, March 23, 2009


This morning, as I pulled on my 10 year old T-shirt, my flannel shirt with missing buttons & a rip down the front (how and when did I do that?), and my stained shoes with the frayed laces I thought of Don Wood, eccentric island resident who died several years ago. One of his family members commented once that Don was creative with ugly things. Don explained to me that he almost always painted new items (boat motors, bicycles, etc.) a nondescript brown color so no one would be tempted to walk off with them. He was totally unpretentious. Don generally wore soiled old coveralls (he was always involved in some project involving ropes, scrap lumber, or oil). He might be living in his house (power tools shared space with sofas and chairs in his living room), a school bus (often loaded with "stuff"), or out in the sound in his self-built houseboat.

Don, and individuals like him, give me one more reason to enjoy calling Ocracoke home. They add spice to life...and, as I go about my business today, I know that no one will care that my shirt is ripped, or my shoes are stained.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story of participating in the 2008 Christmas Bird Count on Portsmouth 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. Anonymous6:49 PM

    Wait a minute. So No one would be tempted to walk off with them ... walk off with them ....walk off with them, tempted on Ocracoke island? He means visitors would be tempted he thought visitors would be tempted ?? Who do you think he thought would be tempted if he didn't paint them ?? I be he just liked brown or a monochromatic aesthetic

  2. Anonymous11:16 PM

    Your post yesterday sparked a question about crabbing: Do you have any insight into peak crab seasons? I've been on Ocracoke in both summer months and late fall. It seems that crabs are plentiful in summer sound shore waters and scarce in November. (I guess the same could be said of us visitors.) It would seem from your recent post that early spring may be a prime time for crabbing as well. Or perhaps your friends plumbed deeper waters to find their bounty. Would appreciate any knowledge you can share when you can spare a moment. As always, thanks for helping us keep a finger on the pulse of island life.

  3. It has been known to happen that someone will ride his or her bicycle to the Pub, and leave after midnight to discover the bike gone. Someone else (maybe he, and I'm guessing it's mostly a "he," walked or drove) got a little tipsy, and decided to "borrow" a bike to get home. Usually the bike is found alongside the road. A few have been known to end up at the bottom of Silver Lake (I wouldn't accuse a boater, would I?).

    Re. crabs: commercial crabbers start harvesting crabs in the spring. Because they're scarce this time of year the price is usually high. As crabs become more plentiful the price begins to plummet. By summertime, crabs can sometimes be so thick that you can pluck scores of them out of the surf with a dip net. As colder weather arrives, the crabs disappear.