Here is the final question posed by one of our readers: "Without the prevalence of amenities like air conditioning or insect repellant, what did you least look forward to [on trips to Ocracoke in the 1950s]?"
Mosquitoes were definitely a problem sixty years ago. I remember occasionally walking around the village after dark, and having a dark cloud of mosquitoes constantly attack us. During dry summers we weren't bothered much at all. There was no effective community mosquito control program back then, and we didn't have insect repellant (not that it would have done any good...there were so many of the critters), so we simply cut myrtle bushes with our pocket knives and used them to swish away the bugs. If you stopped swinging the branch you'd be covered!
When my father built our new house (the one Amy, David, & Lachlan live in) in the mid-1950s, he installed an indoor bathroom. I can't say I missed my grandparents' privy.
Until the mid-1970s all drinking water on the island came from rainwater collected in wooden, brick, or concrete cisterns. It always tasted the best...although it was a tad disconcerting to have to strain out the wigglers (mosquito larvae) with cheesecloth. We never did get them all. Cleaning the cistern in the spring was never the most pleasant task either, but it was interesting to see how many tree frogs were living in the tank.
Livestock continued to roam freely over the island until the mid-1950s. Even though there weren't many cows, I did step in a fresh cow pie one evening. Of course, I was barefooted. That was not the most pleasant experience!
Living without air conditioning never bothered me. In fact, remembering my grandmother's lace curtains gently moving in the summer breeze conjures up even more vivid memories of those wonderful lazy July and August days.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a list of traditional island remedies. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032111.htm.