Saturday, January 12, 2013

Aunt Thelma Story

Many of our readers will remember that my Aunt Thelma died in November of last year, less than one month short of her 100th birthday (see for more information).

I promised I would share a photo and a story. My cousin Becky sent me the following picture, taken in April of 2012. It shows five generations of Aunt Thelma's family. From left to right they are Susan (granddaughter), April (great-granddaughter), Jackson (great-great-grandson), Thelma, Brooks (great-grandson), James (Becky's husband), & Becky (daughter).

Becky also shared the following photo, taken on Ocracoke in 1914. Aunt Thelma is on the left, my Aunt Delia is in the middle, and my father, Lawton, is on the right. 

Now for the story: About 20 years ago, when Aunt Thelma and my father were both in their 80s, Aunt Thelma came back to the island for a visit. She stayed with my father. One evening, after dinner, we were all sitting in the living room reading the newspaper. My dad had the sports section, I was looking at the front page, and Aunt Thelma was engaged with the "Lifestyle" section.

After a few minutes I heard Aunt Thelma chuckling. Her chuckle soon became a full-bodied laugh. "Aunt Thelma," I asked, "what is so funny?"

"I am reading 'Dear Abby'" she said, and then proceeded to read aloud the letters. They were all from married couples in their 30s and 40s who had given up sex...and didn't miss it.

When she was finished she folded up the newspaper, laid it in her lap, and fixed me with her impish gaze.

"I can tell you one thing, honey," she said. "There weren't no Howards in that bunch!"

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the day Charles Lindbergh landed on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:18 AM


  2. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Great story and great photos. As for the shot from 1914, I presume that was made on the island, which somewhat begs a question of the emergence of photography on Ocracoke. I know from recently looking at old family photos that many were shot at local small-town studios here in PA. Any insight into the development of photography as a business on the island, or insight into the prevalence (or scarcity) of cameras and photographers on and around Ocracoke way back when?

    Thanks, as always, Philip. Look forward to a new year of learning more about Ocracoke.

  3. I am told that traveling photographers visited Ocracoke in the early part of the twentieth century. A number of islanders have family portraits in similar frames. It has only been in recent years that Ocracoke has had resident professional photographers.

  4. Juanita6:32 PM

    Thanks for the pictures. I have never seen the picture taken in 1914. Great to have a picture taken when they were young.

  5. Anonymous9:05 PM

    Philip,Thanks for the Aunt Thelma Story. My mother was charismatic, generous, zippy, red-blooded, vivacious, spirited, affable, a social butterfly, wickedly humorous, good-natured, occasionally cantankorous, charming, captivating, commendatory, beautiful, lovable and loving. She loved God. I am most thankful that she was MY mother...Becky

  6. Becky, I am thankful that she was my aunt. She always added color, excitment, and laughs to any gathering. She was one of a kind!