Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More Itinerants

Yesterday I documented several traveling salesmen, performers, and evangelists who visited Ocracoke a century or more ago. In more recent years we've also had our share of eccentric characters make their way through the island. Many islanders will remember some of the following:
  • Bill Askrin, who drove his car onto a sand dune in the 1950s and just left it there (he lived in the old WWII bunkers at Loop Shack Hill, and was known as an electronics whiz, organic gardener, nighttime wanderer, and early "hippy.")
  • The Blanket Man (that's right, he carried his blanket with him everywhere.)
  • The Spider Lady (according to her, they were everywhere -- in drawers, under bicycle seats, hanging from lamp shades, crawling around in purses....)
  • Hank and his three-legged dog (he stayed for a while, and is often remembered for rolling burning logs under his small house to keep it warm in the winter. Ann Ehringhaus has a photo of him in her book, Ocracoke Portrait.)
  • The Car Lady (she was here just a few years ago, and as you might guess, her car was stuffed, and I mean stuffed, from back window to windshield with all of her belongings.)
There were others, of course. Maybe some of our readers will remember a few of the more colorful characters who have added spice to island life. Leave a comment if you do.

In our latest Ocracoke Newsletter I share information about our many local cemeteries, with examples of some of our more interesting epitaphs. 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. Anonymous4:28 PM

    Itinerants or eccentric? Where I live there was an African American man with dreadlocks that would run everywhere on a constant jog for hours on end. Then there is the waif of a woman with her back back just walking all over and I mean all over town perhaps she thinks she is a bus and walks the mass transit routes. Then the man in the overcoat and leopard print faux fur Cossack hat. He strolls with an umbrella in inclement weather. Wears the same thing in every temperature even 90 degree heat. I only wish them well as they have conducted themselves in this way for years and years I don't know what else to think.

  2. Anonymous3:26 AM

    Has there ever been a Habitat for Humanity house sponsored construction project on Ocracoke Island. From the sounds of what you note PhiLip, finding volunteers would not be an issue.

  3. No, there has never been a Habitat for Humanity house project on Ocracoke. Ocracoke is one of those "end of the road" places that sometimes attracts eccentrics. Some of the folks are truly itinerants (often creative & adventuresome, but restless, souls); others just don't fit into the "cookie cutter" world they were born into. The former move on, the latter are resourceful and resilient, and almost always find ways to make a go of it here. We generally look after one another, so we've never sought outside help with organized projects like Habitat for Humanity.