Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Judgment Day

It was New Year's Eve, 1929 (or maybe it was 1930). Captain Bill Gaskill ran the Pamlico Inn "Down Point" at the end of Lighthouse Road (it washed away in the 1944 hurricane). On the docks he had large oil and gasoline tanks. One of his children was helping a guest pump fuel late at night when a spark from a cigarette ignited some of the gasoline fumes.

A conflagration ensued. Eventually the tanks exploded, sending huge flames and plumes of smoke into the night sky. Eyewitnesses reported that hammers and screwdrivers were thrown into the air which then came raining down around the bystanders.

"Creekers" who heard the explosion got out of bed and headed Down Point, only to be met by panicked "Pointers" running away from the fires.

Captain Bill's brother, Ben, woke up when he heard the noise. He shook his still sleeping wife by the shoulder. "Sarah Ellen, wake up," he pleaded. "I think it's judgment Day."

"Oh, go back to sleep, Ben," she said. "It can't be Judgment Day. It's the middle of the night."

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