Monday, August 20, 2007

Island Trivia

This is from the "For What It's Worth' department.

If you look in a shell book you will learn that conchs and whelks come in "right-handed" and "left-handed" varieties. The right-handed ones, like the one pictured below, are more common. These have the opening on the right side as you look at the bottom of the shell.

Interestingly, Ocracokers always referred to these shells the other way around. In other words, the shell below is a left handed conch. The reason -- years ago, when these large shells made perfect dippers for getting water out of the cistern (every home had at least one large conch lying on the cistern) they were designated by the hand you would use to pick up the shell/dipper. The shell below was just right for a left-handed person. Thus it is a left-handed conch.

So who's right? The books or the O-cockers? Depends on who you ask. On the island we still call this a left-handed conch.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Black Squall, a brig loaded with circus animals that wrecked on Ocracoke in April of 1861. You can read it here.

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