Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Today is the first full day of Hanukkah (sometimes spelled Chanukah), an 8 day Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Happy Hanukkah to all of our Jewish friends!

Today is also the last day of our 2011 Ocracoke Journal posts. Because of the upcoming holidays we have decided to take a short break so we can spend more time with our family and friends. This will be our last blog for 2011. We hope you enjoy our account of daily life on the island.

In the meanwhile, we wish all of our readers a very Happy Christmas...and all the best in the New Year!

A few other upcoming observances we want to remind our readers of:

-- The Winter Solstice (Dec. 22) This is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Because of the earth's tilt, the north pole will be 23.5 degrees away from the sun. The sun's rays will be directly overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn, south of the equator. This was often a day of celebration in age-old northern cultures because after this date the days begin to lengthen as the sun appears increasingly more directly overhead.
-- National Haiku Poetry Day (Dec. 22)
-- National Candy Cane Day (Dec. 26)
-- National Whiner's Day (Dec. 26...for all the folks who didn't get the gifts they wanted?)
-- National Chocolate Day (Dec. 28 & 29...I guess chocolate requires two days to celebrate)
-- Bacon Day (Dec. 30)
-- No Interruptions Day (Dec. 31)
-- World Peace Meditation Day (Dec. 31)

We will not be publishing a new Ocracoke Newsletter this month. Click here to view our latest Newsletter, the story of Ocracoke Island and the Lost Colony;

Please check in again on January 2, 2012.

We'll see you in 2012!

Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Lights

As usual, many Islanders deck out their houses in Christmas lights. Here are just a few examples of the display this year. Note the extra special "star" on the OPS tree.

Peace on Earth:

Sleigh Bells Ring:

Blue Christmas:

Santa, Stop Here:

Wahab Home:

OPS Christmas Tree:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Passing on Traditions

As we were looking through old photos, Amy and David were struck by how this one of my father and me made them think of Lachlan and David. So, they decided to recreate the photo. As they were inspecting the original to see what my dad was sitting on, Amy went running to her back porch and returned with the very wastebasket he had been using as a perch. The traditions, stories and even the stuff gets passed on for future generations to use and enjoy!

Lawton and Philip Howard, 1950:

Fiddler Dave Tweedie and Lachlan, 2011:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Regular visitors to Ocracoke, and frequent readers of this journal, may remember that "buck" is a common island word meaning "pal" or "friend." Ocracoke men use it frequently as a form of address, in sentences such as "Hey buck, how are you doing?" or "Thanks buck. I appreciate that."

To my knowledge, "buck" is not used anywhere else in the US in quite the same way as O'cockers use the word. However, some years ago I was told that "bach" is still used in Wales with much the same meaning.

This past week I was reading Ken Follett's novel, Fall of Giants. The story is set mostly in Europe from 1911 to 1924, and several of the characters are Welsh miners. Much of the action takes place on battlefields during WWI. I was surprised to read, on page 799, this short paragraph: "Farther along the trench he found Johnny Ponti. 'Deploy that Stokes mortar, Johnny bach,' he said. 'Make the buggers jump.'"

I did a little web searching and discovered that "bach" is in fact a Welsh slang expression meaning "little" or "wee"...but that it is also used to mean "love" as in "Alright, love, I'll be happy to do that for you."

So there you have it, buck -- one more confirmation of Ocracoke's Welsh roots.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and our connection with the "Lost" Colony of 1587. You can read it here:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Good News

I recently received the Monthly Newsletter from the Ocracoke Foundation ( For some time the Foundation has been in negotiations with David Senseney and his family about purchasing the Community Square property. Here is their latest announcement:

"We are very pleased to announce that our [Ocracoke Foundation's] primary focus for 2012 will be the acquisition of the Community Square!!  Since 2008 OFI has been working with the Trust for Public Land and the Senseney Family to purchase the heart of the village's historic district to protect and preserve this important part of island heritage. It is the desire of the Senseney Family that community ownership ensure the preservation of the historic structures, long term waterfront access, maintain availability for public use and enjoyment, and provide a model for improved environmental stewardship, a space for community events, and a source of dedicated funding for island nonprofits."

As most of our readers know, the Community Square includes the Community Store (est. 1918), several other retail establishments, the Working Watermen's Exhibit (on the dock where Jack Willis' store used to be), and several wooden docks. The porch of the Community Store is a great place to sit and relax, and to visit with islanders and visitors...and the docks will provide public access for views of the harbor, the lighthouse, and sunsets.

We are looking forward to heritage and environmental improvements, more public and community events, and the preservation of an important cultural icon. Many thanks for the hard work and dedication of Robin Payne, the board and directors, and the Senseney family.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and our its connection to the "Lost" Colony of 1587 You can read it here:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oyster Roast

For those who can make it, the Ocracoke Working Waterman's Association will be holding their 6th Annual Oyster Roast and Shrimp Steam on Friday December 30th from 2-5PM at the Fish House.To read more details, purchase a raffle ticket and/or become a supporter please click here

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Early Morning Call

We awake mornings to the sound of ducks calling us from our sleep.  Most mornings about twenty Mallards "call" to me around 6:30AM - my "alarm clock". We live on the "Old Slough", it's right outside our door. The ducks are looking for breakfast and I accommodate them with handfuls of cracked corn.  They quack their appreciation and swim off to do whatever ducks do  in a day.  It's a good way to wake up.  The air is fresh and smells of the sea. The dew falls softly from the trees. Shafts of early morning sunlight illuminates the sand and warms it where my cats are bathing.  A steaming cup of coffee, the smell of bacon cooking, life is good on a December day on this island.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How To Get There

In June of this year I shared images from a mid-1950s Tourist Map of Ocracoke, published by the Ocracoke Civic Association. Tommy Drake, grandson of Capt. Gary Bragg, had saved the map, and loaned it to me. He also showed me a vintage paper with directions for getting to Ocracoke. Four ways "To Get There" are detailed:
  1. Mailboat from Atlantic, N.C.
  2. Mailtruck via ferry from Hatteras, N.C.
  3. Freight boat (weekly) from Washington, N.C.
  4. Charter plane by arrangement, from Beaufort, Buxton, Manteo,m or Washington, N.C.
You may have noticed that driving one's own vehicle from Hatteras is not included. Below is the "Special Note About Driving to Ocracoke in Private Car":

"The State of North Carolina is about to begin construction of a paved road on Ocracoke Island, but this will scarcely be finished in time for the 1956 season. When this road is finished, it will be possible for you to drive your own car via the Hatteras Inlet ferry all the way to Ocracoke. Until then, it is very hazardous to attempt to bring your own car south of Hatteras. Only drivers experienced in sand driving, or with four-wheel-drive vehicles, willing to deflate their tires to 15 pounds or less, should attempt the stretch on Ocracoke Island. There are 11 miles of deep sandy trail, with no road, no markers, and ho inhabitants, between the ferry and Ocracoke Village. If you do attempt it, be sure to get advice in Hatteras from the Ocracoke mail carrier, who drives the route daily, as to the state of the tides, beach, etc."

How well I remember traveling down the beach in our 1948 Plymouth! We came across Hatteras Inlet on Frazier Peele's four-car ferry. My father and the other drivers decided that if anyone got stuck in the sand, the others would not stop to help. The goal was to get at least one vehicle all the way to the village. If any of the others didn't show up the Coast Guard would be notified so they they could take their four-wheel-drive truck to pull them out (hopefully before the tide came in!). Getting to Ocracoke by car before 1957 was quite the adventure!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Warm December

We've had warm, spring like weather these last few weeks. It's hard to believe it's the middle of December. It's been lovely for beach walks, however the mosquitoes have been enjoying the weather too. Normally we have none of the pesky insects this time of year, but recently they have been swarming around the doors at dusk.

Here's also wishing our guest blogger, Bill a very happy birthday today.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Monday, December 12, 2011


This is the time of year we have the chance to see whales migrating slowly past the island. Being on the beach in the right place at the right time depends mostly on luck. So far, I've not seen any whales this year, though I do keep a look out anytime I take my beach walk. Rumor has it that a baby humpback was beached on the north end of Ocracoke. I've not been down to see it yet, but apparently it's rather impressive. I've not heard a report of why it washed up, but I'll keep an ear out for more information.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Doings

One question visitors to Ocracoke often ask is "What do you do around here when we're gone?" The answer, of course, is "We miss you!" But here are some of the other things we'll be doing this week.

Thursday, December 15 - Ocracoke School's  Christmas program, 7:00, in the (new) gym. This is our school's annual "thank you" to the community.

Friday, December 16 - The Holiday Basketball Tournament beings (also in the new gym.) Games begin at 2 PM Friday and 11 AM Saturday with the trophy presentation at 5 PM. Bring staples and canned goods for Outer Banks families in need this Christmas.

Saturday, December 17 - Ocracoke Library's Cookie Swap at 11 AM. This will involve readings and singing as well as the exchanging of lots of delicious calories. And the Friends of the Library will be conducting a book sale at the same time.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

OPS Christmas Tree

We had several requests on a recent post for a picture of Ocracoke's community Christmas tree at the Preservation Society museum. Connie Leinbach took this shot on a beautiful, sunny Ocracoke day. Thanks to her for letting us share it with you.

And thanks to all the folks who showed up at the Museum for the Wassail Party, caroling and official tree lighting. If you are on Ocracoke this Holiday Season, be sure and come by and see the tree all lit up under a starry sky.

Photo by Connie Leinbach

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Friday, December 09, 2011

Fig Preserves

Over the years Ocracoke fig preserves have been enjoyed by many.  Magazine articles have even been written about them! This year we had an exceptionally large crop. Some say this was due to a colder than average winter.  Usually we would have sold out by now but thanks to the large crop and Hurricane Irene bringing business to a virtual halt on Ocracoke for a month and a half, we still have half pints in stock.  They make a great Christmas gift or are delicious in fig cakes for the Holidays.  Click on the photo of the figs to order yours.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Happy Birthday Blanche!

Cousin Blanche is one of the kindest, gentlest souls I have ever known...and one of the smartest, friendliest, and most gracious people, too. I feel blessed to have her as my neighbor. And today is her birthday!

This is a recent photo of Blanche with my daughter Amy. Aren't they are both radiant!

Blanche, we all wish you the Happiest of Birthdays...and many more to come!

Leave your birthday wishes in a comment, and we'll print them up and carry them over to Blanche.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

1917 USCG Station

Last month (November 9) I published a photo of the WWII era Ocracoke Coast Guard Station (the building that is now the NCCAT Center) with the 1904 station in the background.

Below is a photo of the 1917 station that was built on the north end of Ocracoke, near Hatteras Inlet. This station replaced the original 1883 station. The 1917 station washed away in the mid 1950s after a series of severe storms undermined the buildings. If you look carefully as you cross Hatteras Inlet you will see a row of pilings on the ocean beach on the north end of Ocracoke. That is all that is left of the 1917 US Coast Guard Station.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Ocracoke and the Lost Colony. You can read it here:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Some of Lachlan's cousins from his father's side of the family came into town to visit over the weekend. The boys had a great time swinging on the rope swing, chasing each other around the yard, playing pranks on their parents and, of course, running free on the beach.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Ocracoke and the Lost Colony. You can read it here:

Monday, December 05, 2011

Photo Shoot

Molasses Creek was hard at work this weekend posing for photos. They are starting a national promotion of themselves and needed some new photos to help convey the energy of the band and the place they come from. They had beautiful (but chilly) weather to work in. Keep your eyes out for these fresh new images of the band that brings a little bit of Ocracoke to wherever they play. 

Photo by Jennifer Kidwell

 To find out more about what Molasses Creek is up to, you can visit their website:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Ocracoke and the Lost Colony. You can read it here:

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Wassail Party

Ocracoke Preservation Society is hosting its annual Wassail Party this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 5:00 to 6:30 at the museum.

There will be plenty of hot Wassail (spicy apple cider) and delicious goodies to eat.

And we will gather around the Christmas tree for some caroling and a lighting ceremony. This is Ocracoke Village's outdoor Christmas tree. It welcomes all our mainland visitors as they exit the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries. And it's there for the whole community to enjoy. Thanks to the Civic and Business Organization for purchasing it, to Tommy Hutcherson and the Variety Store crew for delivering it, to Tideland Electric for helping get it upright, to Chester Lynn, and Pat and Rudy Austin for helping decorate it and to the OPS Executive Committee, staff and volunteers who help with all the preparations, decorating and post-wind repairs.

So come join the celebration; shop in the gift shop for Christmas gifts and catch a big dose of the Christmas Spirit.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Ocracoke and the Lost Colony. You can read it here:

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Ferry

This is Bill filling in for Philip today.

Lida and I spent Thanksgiving in Boston with our son and his wife. (We had turkey on the table and wild turkeys in the yard!) After a long two-day drive through NYC and down the Delmarva Peninsula, we finally pulled into line at the Hatteras Ferry dock. A few minutes before 2, we were directed on board. We set our emergency brakes and watched as the ferry backed out onto Pamlico Sound.

Lida looked over at me and said, "Wow, you look like a different person!"

I felt like a different person from the one who had battled bumper to bumper traffic across the George Washington Bridge and stared at miles of rain-soaked road through windshield wipers.
Whenever I get on the ferry to come home, it feels like my blood pressure drops about 20 points. All the stress of driving is replaced with seagulls and pelicans and salt air and a distant horizon of water meeting sky...and sometimes dolphins.

What a nice way to come home!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Ocracoke and the Lost Colony. You can read it here:

Friday, December 02, 2011

NC 12

We so appreciate all of you who care so deeply for Ocracoke and the Outer banks.  As most of you know Hurricane Irene, which struck our area August 27th of this year, caused catastrophic physical damage to parts of the Banks and tremendous financial damage to all of us.  We can't thank you enough for your prayers and support.  Rt. 12 North is our lifeline on these fragile barrier islands.  It was damaged substantially during the hurricane with most of us being cut off from the north for a month and a half.  Folks are still trying to put their lives back together.  We thought you would like to know that Public Workshops to discuss permanent solutions for NC 12 are being held in Manteo December 5th, Rodanthe December 6th and on Ocracoke January 5th.  Our Rt.12 Northern access is of critical importance.  Let us hope that a permanent solution is soon found and implemented. -- Jude

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December Already

We at the Village Craftsmen would love for you to check out our online catalog for all of your Holiday shopping needs.  Click on the "What's New" section on our home page to view some great recent additions.  Don't forget, until the end of December we are offering FREE SHIPPING on all "online" orders placed over $25.00.  Hope to hear from you.