Monday, February 18, 2019

Early 2oth Century Marketing Strategy

In 1937, the Hyde County Board of Commissioners, in response to a petition signed by 132 “citizens, taxpayers, and voters,” passed a resolution to ban the sale of beer on Ocracoke Island. It was not until 1978, when Howard's Pub opened, that beer was again legally for sale on Ocracoke. In the late 1970s an ABC store was established. And only in 2006 was the sale of liquor by the drink approved. Nevertheless, various alcoholic beverages were usually available from local bootleggers. I recently heard the following anecdote from about 1940:

An islander approached J......... B........., one of the local bootleggers, inquiring about purchasing a bottle of liquor.

"You're lucky," J......... replied. "There's been a run on liquor lately, and I only have one bottle left."

After a brief pause, J........... added, "What would you like, rum or vodka?"


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit."  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

East Howard Street

East Howard Street

This picturesque sandy lane is a portion of what was once merely a foot path, but then became the main road through Ocracoke village.

In 1835, petitioners requested permission to lay out a one-lane public thoroughfare on the North side of Cockle Creek, from “just North of Thomas Bragg’s House” (near the present-day School road) to “John Pike’s garden” (in the vicinity of where the OPS Museum is today) and then all the way to the Sound.

In 1957, when the state of North Carolina paved most of the island roads, the eastern end of this road was left untouched. Almost immediately Mr. Stacy Howard nailed a homemade wooden sign to a tree in front of his house and dubbed this "East Howard Street." At that time at least eight Howard families, all descendants of William Howard, Sr., colonial owner of Ocracoke, lived along this street.

Second-Generation Howard Street Sign

In 1759 William Howard, Sr., purchased Ocracoke Island. He was the last of the colonial owners, but the first to call Ocracoke home. Descendants of his son, William, Jr., settled in this area. Five generations of the original Howard family are buried in the several small graveyards along East Howard Street, protected by simple wooden fences.

Eventually the lane became known simply as Howard Street. It is generally only the older generation of islanders who still use Stacy Howard's original designation, East Howard Street.

This past fall the Howard Street sign disappeared. In a spirit of community that is so typical of Ocracoke, several friends and neighbors immediately made new signs.

Howard Street Signs, 2019


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit."  

Wednesday, February 06, 2019


A number of years ago I came into possession of a 1976 manuscript that had been housed in the University of Iowa Library system. Titled Epitaphs for Voice Oboe & Harpsicord (or Piano), it was composed by Lewis Phelps, winner of the 1976-1977 Composition Competition of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors.

Phelps' preface to his compilation of twelve "miniature songs" explains that "Epitaphs, written to extol the virtues of the deceased, often reveal something about the survivors as well, and present an interesting commentary on humankind generally." His compositions use texts that are "actual inscriptions found in cemeteries from New York to Arizona," selected from "American Epitaphs by Charles L. Wallis."

The composer's ninth selection is based on the epitaph (one commentator has called this epitaph a "convoluted tribute") found on the tombstone of Agnes Howard (1780 - 1857), located in the old George Howard cemetery on British Cemetery Road:

"She was!
But words are wanting to say what.
Think what a wife should be.
She was that." 

Agnes Howard Grave Marker on Ocracoke

 The following two pages show Phelps' score for "Agnes Howard":

Phelps explains that "Epitaphs is written for a small one-manual harpsichord with a range of four octaves, 8' and 4' hand-operated stops, with a lute on 8'. When a larger instrument is used, the registration may be adjusted slightly.... Dynamic markings which appear in the keyboard part are intended for piano."

Maybe some of our readers will enjoy playing and singing ("tenderly," advises the author) this song based on the epitaph of Agnes Howard from Ocracoke Island.


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit."  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Hurricane Gloria, 1985

I was cleaning up and organizing a bunch of files and photos the other day....and found these two pictures from September, 1985, after Hurricane Gloria hit Ocracoke.

As you can see from the next photo, the storm tide from Hurricane Gloria has only been exceeded twice since 1985:  Hurricane Alex (2004) and Hurricane Matthew (2016).


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit." 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

1989 Award for Karen Lovejoy

From 1986-2010, The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation annually presented North Carolina citizens with the Nancy Susan Reynolds Awards. The awards, which included a $25,000 payment ($20,000 to be donated to a charity of the recipient's choice; and $5,000 for the recipient) went to individuals in one of three categories –Race Relations (originally designated Community Change), Advocacy, and Personal Service. Recipients were unsung heroes who made an impact in North Carolina communities.

In 1989, Ocracoke resident Karen Lovejoy was honored with the award for Personal Service. The other recipients, pictured below with Karen, were Willie I. Patterson (Community Change), Lowery W. Reid (Community Change) and Leo J. Teachout (Advocacy). 

As part of Karen's nomination process, nearly two dozen island residents (colleagues, friends, students, and neighbors) submitted written testimonies to Karen's impact on our island community. 

The Z. Smith Reynolds website includes this tribute to Karen:

"Karen Lovejoy has made a difference in the lives of nearly all 700 of her fellow inhabitants of Ocracoke Island. When she arrived there 10 years ago, it was for a job: special education teacher at the Ocracoke Island School. Most would have scoffed at the daunting task of teaching each of the school’s exceptional children, from kindergarten to 12th grade, but Lovejoy has taken up the challenge with energy and devotion.

"Whether it be learning Braille so she could help a blind student, or teaching sign language to a deaf student and his family, Lovejoy has gone well beyond her job description. Students treasure her willingness to listen and her knack for imparting self-confidence.

"Outside school, Lovejoy's dedication to others does not end. She visits senior citizens and takes a genuine interest in their lives. She and her husband, David Frum, founded a running club that takes young people to meets all over the state. She organized a foreign-exchange program that has exposed students to experiences far beyond their small, isolated island.

"Then there are the tales about her uniquely personal service to her neighbors, whatever their needs. 'In all of her tasks,' says one admirer, 'she makes true the word "trust." She energizes the word "enable," and she makes vital and caring and promising the words of her own name - "love" and "joy."'"

Karen and her husband Dave live on Ocracoke to this day, and Karen continues to enrich our community with her enthusiasm for life and her concern for others. As you might guess, Karen is modest and does not advertise her award. As a result, many of today's island residents are unaware of this special recognition Karen received in 1989. When you see her, please let her know how much we appreciate all she's done for this community. (But please don't tell her I wrote this, or she will take me to task!)


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit." 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Population 492

On August 3, 1940, the Saturday Evening Post published an article about the Outer Banks titled "Cape Stormy" by Aycock Brown. Here is an excerpt:

"Suppose you were looking for the most remote, least visited inhabited spot in the United States east of the Mississippi. My nomination would be the Carolina Outer Banks….

"…From [Roanoke Island] south there are no roads. You can travel by boat. The beach is one long landing field. You may even drive, if you know the trick of getting through deep and treacherous sand, or ride the daily station-wagon stage which struggles through the sand from Manteo to Hatteras, there connecting with a ferry to Ocracoke Island [Brown must have been writing about a passenger boat; the first car ferry I know about commenced operation about 1950]. You may, but very few do it, and so Hatteras and Ocracoke are what is known as unspoiled.

"There are half a dozen villages on Hatteras with 1154 persons in all, by the 1940 census, the one village of Ocracoke, on the island of that name, population 492. The only other settlement south of Roanoke Island is the dying village of Portsmouth, on Core Banks, which once was to have been a great port. The Banks are the only region in the United States where no license is required for an automobile, North Carolina never having spent any of its road funds there."


Remember, to be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit." 

Monday, January 14, 2019


My daughter, Amy, recently found these almost 43-year-old snapshots in an old photo album, and sent them to me. They were taken in April of 1976 aboard the 73-foot, two-masted clipper schooner, Mary E. Most of the people in the top picture are Ocracoke High School students. That is me, Philip Howard, in the bottom photo.

As part of the 1976 Bicentennial Sail jointly sponsored by the National Park Service and "Sea Ventures," a New Jersey-based educational organization, the Mary E (she was built in 1906) was being used as learning motivation for students in schools near various East Coast Parks.

In April of that year, bound for Manteo, the Mary E made a stop at Ocracoke and was detained by bad weather for several days. While on Ocracoke Meryl Silverstein, the onboard educator, first mate, cook and deckhand, made arrangements for Ocracoke students to inspect the ship. But instead of giving them the usual 20-minute program, Capt. Teddy Charles invited them to sail to Manteo, 70 miles north. Within two hours, 13 Ocracoke high school students, three adult supervisors, Silverstein and the skipper were sailing out of the harbor with excited parents, friends and teachers waving.

You can read the history (and current location) of the Mary E here:

And you can read about the skipper, Capt. Teddy Charles, sailor and influential jazz musician, here:

Maybe some of our local readers can identify the students in the top photo (I can only recognize a few!). Please leave a comment if you can.


Remember, to be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit."