Monday, July 31, 2006

247 Years Ago....

....Yesterday. That's right, on July 30, 1759 William Howard, Sr. purchased Ocracoke Island for 105 Pounds Sterling.

Earlier this summer a friend and I were talking about an altercation that occurred on one of the docks. On hearing the word "mailboat" another friend remarked, "That happened at least fifty years ago, didn't it!" He was right. He added, "Only on Ocracoke can you hear people talking about things that happened fifty, one hundred, or more years ago, and they act like it just happened yesterday!"

Well, William Howard, Sr. didn't live yesterday, but I'm happy he bought the island when he did.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bear on the Island

About four years ago (??) reports circulated through the village -- a bear had been spotted swimming in the sound, not far from Ocracoke. One fisherman even said the bear had tried to climb into his skiff. The Park Service was alerted. Campers were warned. It was high drama.

Bears, of course, are good swimmers; and there are plenty of bears on Hyde Co. mainland, but I had never heard of a bear on Ocracoke before. Over time Ocracokers quit talking about the bear or looking for it. It had disappeared. Maybe it had swum up to Hatteras, or across the inlet to Portsmouth.

This morning Amy called. Visitors told her they had found a bear carcass on the sound shore near their rental home. Sure enough, we rode our bikes up there, and there it was. Badly deteriorated, and about four feet long, it was a youngster. Whether or not it was the same bear folks saw several years ago, or another unfortunate critter, we couldn't tell. But it did help confirm the rumours. So if you hear that there is a bear lurking around the island, beware! could be true.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Porch Talks

On Thursday Lou Ann & I met with a dozen and a half folks at the Preservation Museum. I shared the history of our traditional island square dance -- and we even danced two dances in the yard. David Tweedie and Lou Castro were there to provide some good old-time tunes for us.

On Friday John Golden entertained more folks with Outer Banks folk songs. This coming week Chester Lynn talks about figs and fig recipes, and a park employee shares information about our unique Outer Banks ponies.

Every week in the season the museum hosts these informative porch talks. Be sure to check their schedule on your next visit to the island. I'm guessing you will learn some interesting and entertaining history no matter which talk you have the opportunity to join.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Island News

Just like in the 1970s, our power flickered & went out right after 5 pm yesterday afternoon. This hasn't been a regular occurance for some time now. I never heard an explanation for yesterday's outage, but it seems plausible that it was the same old problem again -- everyone coming back to their cottages after a delightful day at the beach....and turning up their A/C and turning on their hot water showers.

Lou Ann & I had planned to have dinner at the Cafe Atlantic. Lucky for us they have a generator, since the power stayed off for several hours. By the time we got home power had been restored.

I got this comment on yesterday's journal entry: "We got to the island around 5:30 pm for a late day visit. The first news I heard was the idiot who drove his Harley in the sand and got it stuck. The other news was the old guy walking around stark naked. Sorry I missed both! Unfortunately the electric was out and I missed going to the Village Craftsmen."

Wow! It's getting so we're now getting our island news from visitors. I never heard about either of those events. And our waitress never mentioned them either. I suppose we'll hear a report before the day is over. It seems like there's seldom a dull moment on Ocracoke Island.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Yesterday a reader asked, "is the " 'weren't even any bugs' report something that's in any way predictable down there?"

Well, first of all, this has been the near perfect, bug-free summer (so far). Of course there is the occassional skeeter at dusk and the horsefly now and again on the beach (by the way, today was the near perfect beach day -- warm & sunny with gently rolling waves big enough to play in). But no swarms of biting insects, like we sometimes have. I suppose the conditions have been just right, especially the paucity of any significant rain these last several weeks.

So, I'd say there is no real prediction possible, though a wet season typically brings on the bugs. But it's difficult to see what's coming more than a week or so in the future, and even then we're often wrong. I'd say just come on down and hope for the best. Even when the bugs are bad, you're still on Ocracoke!

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Too Much Sun

A customer remarked moments ago that she'd been to Portsmouth Island today and had gotten "too much sun." Well, I said, too much sun is not the best thing, but it's a heck of a lot better than too much work. She agreed whole-heartedly.

She said what I expected. This was a terrific day to go to Portsmouth. According to her there weren't even any bugs. If you're reading this while on the island, consider a trip across the inlet in the next day or so, before a batch of mosquitoes hatches. A visit to Portsmouth Island is always a treat.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

When The Lights Burn Low....

Saturday evening Philip and I were invited for dinner at Dallie's. The occasion was a special feast of "Old Drum," an old Ocracoke dish. (Actually we substitued "puppy drum," but it tasted just as good.) Since it was also my birthday, I was able to wear a crown of rhinstones. (A princess should always wear rhinestones, even when she is barefoot, don't you think?}

The house was full of folks when we arrived, and we were promptly served Sunset on the Pizer. It is becoming very popular here on the Island!

Vernon (Dallie's partner) says that preparing "Old Drum" in the summer is like Thanksgivng in July. He was right. The kitchen was abuzz in a hurried, friendly sort of way. We were all peeking into pots, commenting, setting tables with colorful fiesta dishes...getting seconds on the Sunset drinks.

As we finally gathered in a circle for dinner, Dallie read the old recipe from an antiquated cookbook. The ingredients are something like this: Boil up an old drum. (That is a fish, for you landlubbers.) Boil up potatoes and eggs, separately. Fry up a piece of salt pork, keeping all of the fat!! Slice up onions, or as Vernon says his Mama did, onions with cucumbers in vinegar. All of this is mashed on the plate together. It was fabulous. Topping off the menu was Dallie's old-fashioned blackberry cobbler with egg sauce. (Now you can't get any of this in any restaurant here!)

With the sink piled high with dishes and warm cups of coffee in hand, we pushed back from the table, and the lights were dimmed. Stories of haunts and haints began to fill the evening hours. Everyone had a story to tell that sent shivers down our spines.

When the evening was over, we thanked our hostess and headed out into the misty evening on our bikes. Inky darkness shrouded our pathway as we meandered home.

As if the midnight hour wasn't enough, when we arrived back home at Miss Aliph's, we both stopped in our tracts. The rocking chair from the Ariosto shipwreck was moved from it's location in the cottage. We stared at each other in disbelief and swore to each other that we did not do it!!

So, we ask, did a friend come in, make themselves at home and move the chair? Did someone come in to play a practical joke? Or was it........................?

All I can say is that so far no one has confessed, and I am making Philip go in the house first from now on!

Lou Ann

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Early Morning Rain

We woke up to heavy rain this morning. Lawton Lane was flooded, skies were gray, and rain was pouring from the clouds. We needed the precipitation.

Even though the sky was still overcast, we ventured to the beach just before noon. A few drops fell as we walked along the surf. The water was moderately rough, but we dove in like kids and had a grand time. Hardly anyone was nearby. And we weren't fried like on so many sunny summer days. All in all it was a wonderful time at the beach.

Lou Ann just came home. She had afternoon tea with Pat Garber. We'll be headed to the Jolly Roger for supper and music shortly. We hope your weekend has been at least as relaxing.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Lou Ann!

If you walk into the Village Craftsmen this afternoon and the woman with the sparkling eyes wearing a crown of roses waits on you be sure to wish her a happy birthday.

(I tried to take her hours today, but she insists on working. We'll take tomorrow off and celebrate then.)


On Thursday evening our home was filled with mirth & laughter. Dallie & her partner Vernon, Jude & her husband Frank, Dale & his wife Jaren, and Lou Ann & I gathered for our 2005 staff dinner. That's right -- 2005. We always enjoy getting together after the busy season to share good food, a couple of bottles of wine, and summertime stories. Last fall a number of things conspired to keep us from our appointed task. Storms, medical problems, off-island name it. Before we knew it 2006 had arrived, with even more reasons to put off the get together.

Finally we found an evening that suited everyone. We had no sooner gathered (even before I poured the first glass of "Sunset on the Pizer") when Dale commenced to share hilarious stories. The laughter never ended. One after the other we told tales of misadventure, misunderstanding, and misconduct. Neither tourists nor residents (including ourselves) were immune from the telling.

The table was piled high with steamed shrimp, homemade potato salad, and a fresh green salad. Lou Ann prepared a sumptuous chocolate/raspeberry dessert. Even plates full of delicious food could not stop the story-telling.

As the evening wound down our guests bid us farewell and strolled home under a canopy of sparkling stars. Lou Ann & I settled into our porch swing and allowed as how a home filled with good cheer and laughter counted for much of what makes life so sweet.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Subsiding Island Gossip

That was Lou Ann's original title for yesterday's journal entry. I changed it before I published it. Lou Ann thinks my title, "Minimizing Island Gossip," is "stupid." Luckily, she's still talking to me.

"Subside," as I so helpfully pointed out, is an intransitive verb (it doesn't take an object). It's like the verb "fall." A tree can fall, but you can't fall a tree. Gossip can subside, but you can't subside gossip. Of course, Lou Ann might have been using "subsiding" as a gerund ("an English verbal noun in -ing that has the function of a substantive and at the same time shows the verbal features of tense, voice, and capacity to take adverbial qualifiers and to govern objects"). But somehow I don't think that's what Lou Ann had in mind.

Lou Ann says she was always looking for a college professor who sat in his book-lined office wearing a jacket with leather elbow patches. I have built shelves upstairs above the Village Craftsmen and turned that room into a library of Island History. But even though I know the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs (was I the only one paying attention in 9th grade English classes?) I'm usually barefooted and wearing a t-shirt. Maybe I should buy a pipe.

Well, to all of you English teachers out there, I'm going to bow to Lou Ann after all. In addition to being a big fan of Lou Ann's I am also a big fan of Humpty Dumpty, who is reported to have said (in a rather scornful tone, I'm told), "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Minimizing Island Gossip

I am so sorry to disappoint our loyal readers who are looking for some juicy island gossip (see comment on post for Tuesday, July 18), but here is the plain ole' story:

Daughter-in-law Karen left on the early ferry on Monday morning...we took photos and waved until we couldn't see the ferry any longer. We had a wonderful visit showing off the island as it was her first visit here!!

Much to our surprise, hours later our good friend, John Golden, showed up with back pack and guitar in hand. With our guest room now empty, we invited him to stay!

We are appreciative of our readers who keep us on our toes and on schedule.

Until next time......Lou Ann

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


It's another great beach day. Bright sunshine....soft sand....a mild breeze. As usual, it may be prudent to be aware of the possibility of rip currents. But Tropical Depression Beryl passed us by with no more than empty threats. So we go about our lives as before.

Tonight we'll enjoy another Opry performance at Deepwater Theater. Lou Ann has put together "Miss Maggie Mae's Radio Hour" for the show. Well actually it's only ten minutes long, but it includes vintage ads from the island, local news from the 1940s, traditional Ocracoke recipes, and a cliff-hanger serial (Was that a gunshot we heard? What happened to John....and Marcia? Tune in next week!). Be sure to spend a Wednesday evening at the Opry on your next visit. It's a barrel of fun, terrific music, and quite entertaining.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

If All The World......

Long ago and far away (so they say)...there were traveling gypsies and musicians and shoemakers and circuit riding preachers who came into town. Folks would trade bed and board for new shoes for their children...or tin pots..or some Bible reading by the fire.

Long ago and far away happened at our house last night. John Golden, musician, song-writer, performer "happen-chanced" on our doorway. He needed bed and board, and with clean sun-dried sheets on the bed in our tiny guestroom we welcomed him. Music and stories filled the evening hours.

Early this morning as the sun was rising and the world was waking up...we heard music drifting up the old staircase into our room. John was serenading us with sweet, rich music as he sang and played his guitar.

If only all in the world could start the day as we did. Sigh.

Lou Ann

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Have Fun but Be Careful

Yesterday I received this email from Joyce Moore, a long-time visitor to the Outer Banks and a regular reader of this journal:

"I was wondering if you heard about a man drowning in the surf on Hatteras on June 28. He was a friend of mine. He and his wife and I volunteered at NERFA [Northeast Regional Folk Alliance] where we ran into David Tweedie in the Poconos and at a number of other Folk Festivals. I thought you might be interested in hearing his story....he was quite a guy!"

Joyce sent this link:

Our sympathy goes out to Keith Baker's family and friends. We also send our sympathy to the families of others who have drowned on the Outer Banks. I understand that there have been at least three fatalities this summer. We always hate to hear of tragedies, especially those that happen on the islands.

Please enjoy your visits to Ocracoke, and spend as much time as you can at the beach. As you know, we have one of the most wonderful beaches in the world with soft sand, clean water, and great surfing waves. But never underestimate the power of the surf. The Atlantic Ocean is not a swimming pool. Be especially mindful of rip currents. The National Park Service has information about beach conditions at the visitors' center and at the lifeguard beach.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Saturday, July 15, 2006


A storm cell passed by earlier this morning, with lightning in the distance and thunder rolling languidly through the humid air. The sand in the driveway is so dry and powdery. We were hoping for a cooling rain to nourish the trees & shrubs, but it was not to be. Now the sun is shining brightly. Lou Ann and I are looking forward to taking Karen out on a sunset cruise after work with Captain Rob on the schooner Windfall. Maybe we'll even treat ourselves to dinner at the Back Porch restaurant tonight. I think Karen is finding Ocracoke an interesting and creative place.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death.".

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sharing our Home

Yesterday afternoon Lou Ann's daughter-in-law, Karen, arrived for a four day visit. She had never been to the island before. We met her as she disembarked from the Cedar Island ferry. After hugs and a few words we got on our bikes and led her through the village and down Howard Street to our home.

Karen has the small downstairs bedroom, the room that was mine when I visited my grandparents fifty years ago. After a tour of the house (Karen was duly impressed) we sat down at the kitchen table for a delicious meal of marinated chicken, fresh corn on the cob, and cucumber & onion salad.

When dinner was over we strolled down the lane to Deepwater Theater for a fantastic performance by Molasses Creek. Gary, David, Kitty, & Katy entertained a wildly appreciative audience with high energy, new songs, and wonderful stories.

After the show we were happy to have Gary and Fiddler Dave stop by to visit. Amy came in after work (she's a waitress at the Back Porch restaurant). It was a long day for Karen, but she enjoyed being immersed in our island life, hearing wonderful music, & listening to local stories.

It is always a pleasure to share our home and our island with family & friends.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Yesterday's journal mentioned a "chicken pound." When Lou Ann read that post she told Dale about the mistake I had made. She was familiar with a chicken coop, a chicken pen, and a chicken yard, but she'd never heard of a chicken pound. Whatever could I have been meaning? Dale says she was positively bent out of shape. Dale, of course, knew exactly what I had meant. O'cockers have been keeping chickens in pounds for generations.

So I went to my dictionary. A "pound" is "an enclosure for animals...." Exactly as we use the term here on Ocracoke.

We also have "pound nets" on the island. Again, according to my dictionary, a "pound net" is "a fish trap consisting of a netting arranged into a directing wing and an enclosure with a narrow entrance." The next time you cross Pamlico Sound look for the pound net stakes set out by local fishermen.

We also "pound the preacher" now and then, or at least we did in the past. Years ago, when the preacher barely made enough salary to sustain himself and his family neighbors would bring him a pound of butter, or a pound of rice.... At least that's where I think the term came from. Unfortunately, my dictionary doesn't list this definition of "pound." Maybe this is one very local use of the word.

Here at Village Craftsmen we're curious. We've asked a number of our customers and none of them (including those from elsewhere in Eastern North Carolina) has heard of a chicken pound or pounding the preacher (though some said they'd like to). If you use these terms, please leave a comment -- and be sure to tell us where you are from. Check the comments link below to see the results.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tick Tock

Lou Ann bought me an antique Elgin pocket watch one recent Christmas. Sometimes I carry it with me; at other times I set it on my living room end table. Lachlan likes to pick it up even though he knows he's not supposed to. This morning he brought it to me and I remembered the now almost-forgotten sound of a ticking watch. I held the watch up to Lachlan's ear. At first he listened with a curious look on his face, and then broke into a wide grin. Over and over he wanted to hear the distinctive tick-tock, tick-tock.

This little incident reminded me of simple pleasures that we sometimes ignore. Listening to the tick of a mechanical clock could be a metaphor for life on Ocracoke Island, one place where life moves at a different pace. We enjoy many of the 21st century's modern conveniences, of course, but we also are close to life's simpler themes -- running barefoot on the beach, moonlight strolls under ancient live oaks, visiting family graves just across the sandy lane, community pot luck dinners, gathering eggs from the chicken pound, just to name a few.

It's probably a good idea for all of us to "listen to a ticking clock" now and then.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Water, Sand, & Sun

These last few days have been perfect vacation weather. And perfect for us, too, who live here. Humidity has been low, and we even turned off the A/C for several days. Yesterday afternoon we took Lachlan to the beach. He played in the sand or at the edge of the water with one of us while the others plunged into the surf. The water was warm, and the waves were big, but there was no current where we were. Over and over again we dove under the waves or flopped over them. Body surfing was disappointing (the bottom conditions just weren't right), but we had a grand time anyway.

After a light supper we took Lachlan to the Slushie Stand for ice cream cones, then came back home. "I want to go out on the pizer," he said, so we rocked in the porch swing under an almost full moon, and I played a few tunes on my harmonica ("Oh My Darling..." is Lachlan's favorite). Soon he was fast asleep.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Uninformed Citizens

Yesterday evening, sitting & talking on the front porch, Lou Ann & I realized that we had no idea what was happening in the rest of the world. For weeks we have not looked at a newspaper or magazine. We haven't watched a TV newscast for many months. We haven't even listened to the radio since mid-June. Well, yesterday I did turn on the car radio for about one minute and heard part of an NPR report on Bonobo chimps. It hardly brought me up to date on the news, however.

I suppose we would be better citizens if we were better informed. Instead we pass our days in quiet contentment, often oblivious to events in the rest of the nation & other countries, but pretty much grounded in our own small island community. I suppose there's something to be said for that.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ships in Bottles

Jim Goodwin, creator of traditional ships in bottles, set up his tarpaulin, tables, & shelves in the front yard of the Village Craftsmen on Thursday & Friday. Lined up in front of him was an assortment of dowels with small razor blades set at various angles, knitting needles bent this way and that, pliers, tweezers, & stainless steel medical instruments. He also brought modeling clay (for "water" & "sand"), paper (for sails), dowels (for masts), thread (for rigging), a number of partially completed projects, empty bottles, and samples of model boats in different states of completion.

Folks stopped by all day to watch him work and to hear him explain his craft. Jim is a wealth of information about the vessels, including when & where they were built, who the captains were, and how they met their ends (often on the shoals of Ocracoke or elsewhere on the Outer Banks).

Look for Jim's ships in bottles on your next visit to Village Craftsmen. There are only three people making these in North Carolina, and fewer than one hundred of these craftsmen in the entire United States.

The Thomas W. Lawson, the only 7-masted schooner ever built (she capsized off the isles of Sicily, England with only two survivors on Friday, December 13, 1907):

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Several readers asked for images from the 4th of July. I don't have any of the parade, sand sculpture contest, etc. But, thanks to Bill Kraus, who emailed me several from the evening, I have the following to share:

Fireworks Displays:

Sundae Horn leads the National Anthem on the Windfall:

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Memorial Service

Family & friends of Tom Leonard gathered at the airport ramp yesterday afternoon to remember Tom and his contributions to the island. Amidst heartfelt sorrow there was laughter and joy as folks shared stories and "snapshots" of his life.

His partner, Ronnie, told about the time two Mormon missionaries arrived at their modest home on the edge of the village. One of the young men promptly rode his bicycle into the marsh and Tom pulled him out. On turning around Tom noticed a large spider crawling up the other one's leg, and brushed it off. Then he addressed them both with a smile: "You've come here to save me," he said, "and I've already saved you twice."

Joyce Reynolds and Ann Ehringhaus led the gathering. Ann called for a time of prayer, but people continued to share tales. Again, she said, "Let us pray." More stories followed. Finally, in a quintessential island moment, Ann announced, "Let us pray....and I mean it!"

Islanders will miss Tom and his good heart, and will remember him daily, especially as we pass by the many lawns he filled with plants, shrubs, and beautiful flowers.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Wonderful 4th

Badminton, croquet, grilled corn on the cob, shish-ke-babs, fireworks....all the makings for a traditional 4th of July celebration (in addition to the parade and other community events) right here on Ocracoke Island! For the fireworks we strolled down to the center of the village and settled onto the deck of the schooner Windfall. With friends we watched the sky light up over the Coast Guard Station and sailboats & dinghies in Silver Lake harbor.

At the end of the pyrotechnic display we formed an impromptu choir (led by Sundae Horn) and belted out "The Star Spangled Banner" for our neighbors. We were greeted by spontaneous applause. It was a fitting end to a beautiful day.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

Ocracoke residents and visitors always look forward to our island July 4th celebration. As usual, this morning hundreds of folks will congregate on the beach for the sand sculpture contest. Also, the base of the lighthouse will be open for viewing and some of the Banker ponies will be exhibited behind the preservation museum. Of course, the "Herd" skydivers will be back again this year.

The afternoon parade is always great fun with creative and funky home-made floats. The streets will be lined with people sitting in lawn chairs and on the tailgates of pickup trucks sipping lemonade or beer. This evening there will be cook-outs and get-togethers all over the island before the 9 o'clock fireworks display.

I'm sure your hometown has many festivities planned for this day. It is wonderful to celebrate our country's great experiment in democracy and representative government.

Happy Independence Day to you all!

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocraocke Islanders and "tokens of death."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Dancing in the Moonlight

We recently had this comment about our June 21 post:

"Your entry back on June 21 about cavorting au naturel on the beach piqued my curiosity about that subject. I've heard casual references to Ocracoke's "nude beach," but I have a sense those comments, made by resident entrepreneurs, may have tended more toward the realm of local color than reality. While there certainly are MILES of wide open beaches where one might fully (yet discreetly) commune with nature, I've not yet encountered any place along Ocracoke's shores that might suggest a more organized approach to this activity. But maybe I've just not been looking closely enough. Would you mind shedding a little insider's light on the subject/mythology of this topic, as well as any tips or guidance you might be able to offer? Cheers!"

Well, well, well. A casual comment sure has sparked a little interest! As you might imagine Ocracoke has long been a place where some folks have enjoyed swimming au naturel. As our reader notes, there are miles of undeveloped beach on the island. Years ago (before paved roads and ferry service), of course, one could spend an entire day at the beach and never see another soul. Things are different today. And the National Park Service is committed to keeping our beaches "family friendly." That's not to say that it is impossible to find a secluded spot. But there is no "organized approach to his activity."

And a clarification about our earlier post -- "dancing in the moonlight & starlight" on the solstice is not "an old island traditon," as I wrote. I was just having a little fun imagining that senario. As for the term "cavorting," whatever could that mean?

PS: Phyllis (that's Lou Ann's mother), if you are reading this while enjoying your morning coffee, please know that we are having fun this summer, but not too much fun!

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocraocke Islanders and "tokens of death."