Only later in life did I realize that this leather device had probably belonged to his father; maybe had even been passed down from his grandfather. It was a popular tool among sailors and sail makers. This "sewing palm" as it is usually called, is made of leather, and designed to be strapped around the hand. A metal "thimble" is embedded in the section that covers the base of the thumb. With the aid of the "pam" you can push a heavy needle through several layers of heavy canvas.
My father's pam is old, and the leather is brittle, but it is a small reminder of Ocracoke's days of sailing vessels and seafaring traditions.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Joe Bell flowers. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012112.htm.