Sunday, March 13, 2011


I baked a buttermilk pie last night, and carried a couple of slices across the lane to give to cousin Blanche. Of course, sitting and chatting was more important than the pie. In time the conversation turned to the Civil War. Blanche reminded me that three Ocracoke schooners were in Charleston harbor when Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter. One vessel, the Paragon, was under the command of Blanche's great grandfather, Horatio Williams. There is a wonderful story of how Captain Williams slipped out of the harbor under cover of dark, fog, and rain...and how he sank his boat to keep it out of the hands of the north...and the south. Look for the full story in an upcoming Ocracoke Newsletter.

Another schooner, the Star, was captained by Blanche's grandfather, Perry Coleman Howard, and owned by his brother, Abner Bennett Howard.

Blanche was distressed that she couldn't remember the name of the third vessel. "I can't understand why you can't remember the name of the third schooner," I said, furrowing my brow at Blanche. "It only happened one hundred and fifty years ago!"

We both laughed.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of a 1911 wedding on Portsmouth Island. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous1:31 PM

    Philip -
    I love this story about Blanche. All of your Blanche stories are interesting and moving. What a remarkable memory she has!

    Please share the buttermilk pie recipe with us. Thanks.

  2. Buttermilk Pie:

    1 stick butter (room temp)
    1 3/4 c. sugar
    1 t. vanilla
    1 t. salt
    3 T. flour
    3/4 c. buttermilk (I rarely have buttermilk, so I use milk with a capful of vinegar)
    3 eggs
    uncooked pie shell

    Bake 1 hr. 10 min. in 350 degree oven

    The pie is VERY sweet...and VERY tasty!

  3. You're the perfect man. Will you marry me?

  4. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Philip -- I'm thinking the next book you write could be all about cousin Blanche. Bless her heart.

  5. Leigh, I think marrying you would complicate my relationship with Lou Ann...but I appreciate the kind words.

  6. Julie S.7:58 AM

    I think Cousin Blanche is a book in herself.....

  7. debbie s.4:49 PM

    will have to try that pie recipe!

  8. Anonymous5:07 PM

    All good stuff! Thanks for reminding us that a delicious home-baked buttermilk pie and sitting down to good, old-fashioned conversation with an interesting lady, like Blanche, makes the saying, "It's the simple joys of life which matter the most!" oh so true!