Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas Concert, Jimmy's Garage & Ferries

Last night's Christmas Concert at Deepwater Theater was an evening of outstanding music, good cheer, and delicious treats. I am continually amazed at the talent in this small community. If you have never been to one of our shows, be sure to make time at your next opportunity. This time of year, of course, virtually everyone in the audience was a local resident. I did see a half dozen folks I didn't recognize, however. I spoke with one visiting couple who told me that they had heard about the musical traditions on the island but had no idea there was so much quality and talent here.

Jimmy and Linda Jackson were in attendance last night and I had a chance to speak with them briefly. Not long ago a reader of this journal had asked this question:

"You mention an event hosted at Jimmy's garage. In my visits to Ocracoke, I've noticed no other auto repair facility on the island. Jimmy's is kind of tucked quietly away and, happily for me (not so much for Jimmy, perhaps), I've never had occasion to patronize his business, though it would seem Jimmy is a community-minded fellow (opening his business for the dinner/dance) and likely very busy, as possibly the only game in town when it comes to getting you car fixed. I also heard, on my last visit to the island, over Thanksgiving, that Jimmy's is the only place with a public air pump to refill your car tires. Mind telling us a little bit about Jimmy and the realities/implications of auto repair and maintenance on your remote island?"

Jimmy's Garage is a family owned enterprise. Jimmy Jackson was born and raised on Ocracoke (he is a few years younger than I am), and is descended from a long line of islanders. He has been operating his garage since at least the 1970s. In the early years he operated the service station/garage, and then later he worked out of the small garage behind his house. A number of years ago he moved his operation to a brand-new facility across from the Pony Island Restaurant.

I was sitting next to Karen Lovejoy last night when Jimmy & Linda walked in. Karen, who moved to the island from Rochester, NY in the early 1970s, told me that the first time she pulled up to the gas pump in her VW "bug" Jimmy looked at her and remarked, "You're that new Yankee teacher, aren't you? You know we don't work on those foreign cars!" Karen didn't know what to think.

Of course, Jimmy was teasing. I know he's worked on Karen's car many times.

Jimmy works with his son, Jamie, and both of them are top-notch mechanics. Linda, wife & mother, tends to the scheduling and bookkeeping. If you need repairs made on your automobile Jimmy's is the place to go, not only because his is the only garage on the island (!), but also because he and Jamie provide excellent, reliable service. By the way, I believe he does have the only commercial air pump on the island.

Every Christmas season Jimmy, Linda, & Jamie move all of the cars out of the garage, scrub down the concrete floor, haul in picnic tables and chairs, and host THE community pot luck gathering of the year. Everyone, it seems, is there -- old time natives, young folks, residents in wheelchairs, children of all ages, newcomers, off-island natives, people who used to live here, distant relatives, long-time residents, and even a few visitors.

Good spirits dominate the garage as people greet each other, laugh, tell stories, introduce new friends, share jokes, and toast the season. Long lines form to fill up plates with some of the best fare anywhere. There is plenty of food and drink for everyone.

Eventually everyone is full ("run ashore" as O-cockers will say) and satisfied. The serving dishes are cleared away, the tables carried outside, and the chairs arranged around the walls, under the radiator hoses, fan belts, and air filters. That's when the Ocracoke Rockers set up their instruments and sound system. In short order the garage is filled with classic rock & roll dance music, and the floor is a whirl of people gyrating to the pulsing music.

The dance continues until late in the evening, and then folks return home filled with memories of a small, but diverse village coming together to celebrate the season, their community, and the goodness of life.

Many thanks to Jimmy, Linda, and Jamie for making this wonderful event possible!


We recently had another question on the journal:

"[R]e. your return ferry trip to the island, when the deck hands reopened the gate to let you board. Just wondering whether there was anyone else on the ferry with you. I imagine the traffic load would be very light at this time of year. Do the ferries ever occasionally run empty?"

Oh, there were other folks on the ferry, maybe eight or ten if I remember correctly. Most were locals who had gone "up the beach" like we had, for doctor or dentist appointments, or to do some Christmas shopping, or maybe just to go see a movie. And there were a few visitors, I think. And yes, the ferries do run empty at times, especially in the "bleak mid-winter." They must keep their schedules though, because there might be vehicles on the far shore ready to go the other way.

(A weather note before closing -- it's been cold these last few days [in the low 40s, and very windy at times], but it is warming up today. Yesterday's walk on the beach was brisk. Today's should be much easier.)

Our latest Newsletter is about the old Howard cemetery on British Cemetery Road. You can read the stories here.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:33 AM

    Ocracoke sure does have a lot of talented musicians! The Deep Water Christmas concert is always one of my things during the year.
    I have of course heard my mom's story of the first time she pulled up to Jimmy's. Quite funny!
    I loved your description of the garage party. I was trying to explain it to some of my friends here and it was pretty tough. The only thing I could really make clear is that it's the BIGGEST party of the year. :)
    Sorry I won't be there to join in on the fun tonight... but I know there will be many more to come!

    Love & Miss!