Friday, October 18, 2013

Pitcher & Bowl

Last week my cousin Becky and her family were visiting the island. Becky was born in the old kitchen that stood behind my house (it deteriorated and collapsed in the 1960s). Her visit reminded me of my summers on Ocracoke in the 1940s, before my grandparents had running water or a bathroom in the house.

Each bedroom had a washstand with a pitcher and a bowl.

We bathed (only on Saturday night!) in a galvanized wash tub in the detached kitchen, and used the outhouse or chamber pots.

I often wonder what my grandmama would think if she could come back to visit her house today -- now fitted out with running hot & cold water, two indoor bathrooms, central heat and air conditioning, a washing machine, and Internet access.

Our most recent Ocracoke Newsletter is a compilation of humorous stories told by or about islanders. You can read it here:


  1. Debbie Leonard6:16 AM

    Times sure have changed! In the early 80's my grandad (born in 1898) was horrified that we had a mortgage. I tried to explain that everyone did but he was unwavering in his belief about them!

  2. That reminds me of something that happened with my Grandmother. "Back in the Day"... Every morning she would get up as possible (well before the sun was up) and make herself a cup of instant coffee; she loved Folger's instant. She would then mentally prepare herself for the day, sitting quietly in the kitchen contemplating... whatever. Often times, when we were down for a visit (Rocky Mount, NC) I would go in the kitchen and set with her; as long as I was quiet. After a few minutes or so (which seemed like an eternity...) we would talk about whatever needed to happen that day; plan the meals and such... just small talk. Well... years go by, the microwave was invented and my Mother and Uncle decided they would go in together and get her one with all the "fancy" stuff that could go with it... We showed her how it worked and (now being older) Talked up how grand this new technology was. I even showed her how quickly she could create her cup of "instant" coffee. She had the funniest look on her face through all of the demonstrations. I think I was already in college by this time... We all headed back home after an extended Christmas visit feeling we've done good and we all patted ourselves on the back.

    Well... ... I think it was the next summer... We're down for a visit and, since I was an early riser, much like my Grandmother, I walk into the kitchen, prepared to hear a "ding" and see her pull her cup of coffee out of the microwave... Curiously, she was sitting at the kitchen table and her (ancient) kettle was there on the stove just starting to put out a little steam. I asked her; "Mima... What're you doin'; if you had used the microwave, you'd be sipping coffee by now."

    She put her hand up to her mouth as she always did when was about to confess something and looked at me with a slightly worried face and told me "I know, but.. There's something not quite right about it being so fast. I guess I'm just old fashioned. "

    I laughed, not so loud as to wake anyone, but loud enough to get her giggling too and told her she was right. And, I'll be honest with you... I haven't "nuked" water in the microwave since...

  3. I love both of these stories. I often think about Miss Aliph and even wrote a column about this woman. What would she think? She would be proud of the lovely little house and happy her grandson walks across the floors of history. Robb, that is a wonderful story. I think I may be turning into that same person...keep the kettle boiling and wait it out. Thanks to both.

  4. debbie s.12:49 PM

    Don't get me wrong, I use my microwave all the time... but I've never even thought of heating water in it!

    I think I'll stick to my kettle too. ;)