Saturday, March 29, 2008

Crime and Punishment

Excitment on Ocracoke was at a fever pitch yesterday as three shoplifters were apprehended. Kimberly, who works regularly at the Hemp Shop, and is temporarily on loan to VC, recognized them from their misdeeds last summer. Now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you steal from a little place like Ocracoke and come back not eight months later and do the same thing that you might just get caught. Just a thought, it might just be me. Most of the business owners on the island were at the Sheriff's Office last evening identifying the vast amount of merchandise these three had made off with right under our noses. My they were good, or bad as the case may be! I believe most all have agreed to press charges and that is as it should be. So kudos to Kimberly, Ocracoke's SUPER SLEUTH and to the Hyde Co
unty Sheriff's Dept. for the great follow through and Ocracoke merchants with the courage to prosecute. It's so easy to say you don't have the time, but then you are letting down you neighbors. BEWARE BAD GUYS! Ocracoke is not the place to ply your evil trades!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Today, finally, it is warm and sunny. I've seen so many smiles on the faces of customers. Folks are strolling slowly down Howard Street enjoying this beautiful spring day. The Camillias are in bloom and the Azaleas are just starting to peek out. Maybe I'll check out my garden when I get home this evening to see what's happening there, or maybe a walk on the beach after work would be a better idea, or a cocktail on the back deck. Choices, choices...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Better Late

"Better late than never" as the old saying goes. I hope everyone had a blessed Easter. It was cold some on Ocracoke this Easter. I'm not sure it made it out of the 40's but the sun was bright and warm. The island has been very busy this week. Lots of folks decided to stay for the entire week it seems. It's been quiet for so long it'll take us a bit to adjust to an "almost summer" mode. Jaren is working hard on our website and we'll be adding a lot of new things over the next few months so be sure to check it out.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Sand castles, fishermen, surfers, frisbee throwers, horse's not the quiet winter beach any longer. Not that the beach is crowded. But there are a few more folks out there now that schools are on spring break. There were even youngsters cavorting in the surf yesterday and today. They had to be cold! And I didn't actually see any horses, just the tracks. It really hasn't been beach weather. It's chilly and blustery. But I guess if you're from Canada or some of our northern states it just feels warmer than it really is. As the first line of my college German text put it, "Alles ist relativ." (Everything is relative.)

You can read the eulogy delivered at Muzel Bryant's funeral on our latest Ocracoke Newsletter. Just click here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


As many of our readers know, Ocraocke's oldest resident, Muzel Bryant, died last month at the age of 103. She had lived with family friend, Kenny Ballance, for a number of years. At Muze's funeral Kenny's brother, Alton, delivered the eulogy. I have reproduced the eulogy as our latest monthly newsletter. It is a moving tribute to a kind and gracious lady. You can read it here:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sign of the Times

That's what Leonard labeled this photo he took yesterday. That's me with Kimberly, our new Village Craftsmen employee, replacing our worn, weathered, and faded sign at the intersection of Howard Street and NC Highway 12.

John Ferara made these crisp and clean new signs just in time for spring break. So look for them on your next visit and follow them down Howard Street. There you can check out our new offerings for 2008 or pick up something from an artisan you discovered last year.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Old Quawk's Day

March 16 is Old Quawk's Day. I know I'm a few days late, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to share some local history. Old Quawk was an irascible island fisherman who lived in a makeshift hut many years ago. Against all advice he ventured out in his skiff on March 16 as a storm was approaching, and he never returned. For years Ocracoke mariners refused to leave port on March 16. You can read more about Old Quawk here:

And just so you know...the sound was very rough on Sunday when I traveled to Cedar Island. Robust waves were rolling the ferry from side to side and spray was washing over the bow. I was glad I wasn't in a flat bottom skiff!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Monday, March 17, 2008


This weekend I took the ferry to Cedar Island, then drove to Beaufort where I met Karen Willis Amspacher. Karen had invited me to Beaufort to participate in StoryCorps. Many of our readers will know about StoryCorps from National Public Radio. For those who are unfamiliar with this project I quote from their web site,

"StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.

"By recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about, we experience our history, hopes, and humanity. Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans."

It was an honor to be part of this project. Kimba & Jenna, both from New York City, had brought the mobile recording studio to the waterfront at Beaufort, and Karen had scheduled several sessions for friends in eastern NC. I made two 40 minute recordings, sharing family and island stories and history.

If a mobile unit visits your area, please consider joining the thousands of other Americans who have given voice to their unique and personal stories.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dinner with the Abells

Last night I invited Kitty and Katy and Timmy & Susana Abell over to my house for dinner. The Abells will be performing tonight at Deepwater Theater. I did not know the Abells, but had plenty of food planned. It just seemed like the right thing to do to share my meal with them.

I had been watching Lachlan for several hours and I let him play upstairs while I prepared the meal (pasta salad, broccoli soup, and bread). He joined us at 7 o'clock. The six of us sat around the big Lazy Susan table (one that I purchased years ago from the Sam Jones estate). We chatted about the arts, the island, and Asheville (where the Abells hail from).

It's beginning to feel more and more like the season is upon us.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Culture

Last night's improv performance was so much fun. Contrary to what I posted yesterday, this was not an all female group. Actually, there were five or six guys and two gals, all students at Yale. They were full of energy and excitement. And they were clever, too. The audience loved them.

But that's not all. Deepwater Theater is hosting another performance tomorrow night. Susana & Timmy Abell, musicians from Asheville, NC, will be offering Storytelling, Poetry, Puppetry, and Music at 7:30. This is a family concert featuring a variety of musical instruments (many of which you may have seen at Village Craftsmen). Be sure to stop by if you are on the island. This performance is sponsored by the Beaufort County Arts Council, and is free.

Hope to see you there!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Tonight at 8 pm a women's theater group from Yale University will be offering a free improvisation performance at Deepwater Theater. So if you are on the island, be sure to stop by for what should be an exciting and fun evening.

Today is just gorgeous. Bright sun and a mildly cool breeze. We opened for the season today at 10 o'clock, but it's still quiet on Howard Street. I did hear that the island is already booked for this weekend, though. If you are planning a trip to the island anytime soon be sure to have motel reservations!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Opening Soon

Jude is back from a month long vacation in Aruba. And Dallie is busy rearranging the gallery and creating attractive new displays. I've been working on a new rack card, new road signs, and various other projects. It looks like we'll be ready to reopen the doors on Wednesday. Already I've noticed a few new faces in the village. I understand that East Carolina University has spring break this week. I'm sure other schools will not be far behind. And the weather, at least for now, is super. Clear skies, warm temperatures, and gentle breezes. All that on beautiful Ocracoke Island. What more could we want?

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

OPS Exhibit

Several dozen islanders braved wind gusts of more than 40 mph this afternoon to attend the opening of a Preservation Society exhibit in honor of Muzel Bryant, island native who died recently at 103 years old.

In a small community like Ocracoke it's difficult to take in an exhibit like this. Every time I stepped into the room with the photos and other articles I found myself chatting and visiting with friends and neighbors. I never did take it all in. So I suppose I'll just stop by the museum some day all by myself and take the time to look more carefully.

If you weren't able to be there this afternoon please go to the museum at your next opportunity and check out the exhibit. It's downstairs in the sitting room.

By the way, several off-islanders are stranded here overnight since the ferries are tied up at the docks because of the wind.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Friday, March 07, 2008

What Happened?

I must be losing it. I knew I had not posted anything yesterday, but I guess it's been two whole days! It's hard to believe, but I've been busy -- pot luck dinners (of course), babysitting, Internet orders, visiting, family get-togethers, & painting, among other things.

This morning I'll be attending a Scenic Byways meeting, then getting David's Uncle & Aunt started on one of our new MP3 tours (more about them in another post). Another meeting this afternoon, more babysitting, and then my weekly poker game. Amy & David will be enjoying a progressive gourmet dinner this evening, a benefit for the Ocracoke Youth Center (that's why I am babysitting).

One more thing -- Just to clarify for a reader who left a recent comment (and for any others), there is no bridge to Ocracoke Island. The bridges (plural) that I have mentioned recently are replacements for the ones that have spanned the small island creeks for many years. You will still need to take a ferry to get to Ocracoke (I'm happy to say). Sorry for any confusion.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tune In

If you live in North Carolina and can get public television (UNCTV) look for a special program this Sunday featuring the Outer Banks, from Ocracoke south. Rudy Austin and I were both interviewed for this program which I believe did a wonderful job portraying the beauty and special character of the land and people in southeastern coastal North Carolina. The latest press release below gives more details:

“Cruising Carolina: The Lower Banks” to air March 9 on UNCTV

(Raleigh) – March 3, 2008 Break out the deck shoes, slather on the sunscreen then sit back and enjoy as “Cruising Carolina: The Lower Banks” cruises on to UNCTV for an encore presentation at 6:00 p.m. this Sunday, March 9.

Cruising Carolina: The Lower Banks” is an in depth exploration of the Lower Banks region from Ocracoke to Bogue Inlet. Among the highlights of the program are the story of Ocracoke’s mounted Boy Scout Troop; the haunting tale of the ghost village of Portsmouth Island; a visit to Oriental, the sailing capitol of North Carolina; a nostalgic look at Cape Lookout National Seashore; a visit with a group charged with protecting the wild horses of Shackleford Banks and a look at the traditional craft of wooden decoy carving on Harkers Island.

Produced by BlueWater Media and hosted by renowned cruising guide author Claiborne Young, the EMMY nominated Cruising Carolina is a series of special programs for public television celebrating the inland coastal waters of North Carolina and the communities that dot their shores. Told from a boating and sailing perspective, the series of programs makes the Intracoastal Waterway a “highway” for a boating road trip covering the North Carolina coast from South Carolina to Virginia. Cruising Carolina is designed to spotlight the incredible natural beauty of the area as well as the hidden gem communities of the coastal region, raising the profile of these historic communities and inviting visitors to get off the boat or out of the car and stay awhile.

“Cruising Carolina: The Lower Banks” is produced by BlueWater Media, a full service television and video production company with offices in Raleigh and Danbury, North Carolina. Founded in 1998 to produce lifestyle television programming and corporate video, the company has produced almost forty hours of original television programming for both regional and national cable television networks and public television including the “Maximum Marine”, “American Boater” and “Rev It Up” television series.

The Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority, River Dunes, ElectriCities of North Carolina, Grand Villas at Indian Beach, Morehead Marine and Emerald Isle Realty have provided support for “Cruising Carolina: The Lower Banks”.

You can find out more about “Cruising Carolina: The Lower Banks” on the web at, or by contacting Theresa Dalton at 919-782-0618.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Fire Update

On Sunday afternoon the Ocracoke Preservation Society executive committee members met on the front porch to hear an assessment of the damages from last Tuesday's fire. I'll give a brief overview.

Almost certainly the fire was caused by a lightning strike to the flashing around one of the chimneys. Apparently it smoldered for several hours before breaking out through the roof. Luckily the wooden roof was thoroughly saturated by rain water and the fire spread slowly.

The fire department responded immediately after the flames were sighted and 911 was called. Deeana, who was in the building unaware of the situation, was alerted of the danger and fled the building.

Ocracoke's firefighters quickly contained the fire in spite of a steady wind, but the museum sustained some water damage. Although the damage was far less than it could have been, it was not negligible.

Deeana has nothing but praise for the volunteer firemen. For every firefighter working to extinguish the blaze, she says, there were two helping to move the historic artifacts so they wouldn't be damaged by the water. As a result, virtually all of the photographs, documents, papers, quilts, etc. were saved. However there is significant damage.

There is, of course, a hole in the roof that must be repaired, including roof rafters that are charred and even burned all the way through. Wet insulation must be removed from the ceiling, and walls and floors need to be dried out. Some of the telephones and computers are not working, and may be damaged beyond repair. A significant portion of the gift shop merchandise, especially books, was damaged, and paint has begun to peel from walls and ceilings. Preservationists have been contacted for advice about minimizing future damage from mold and mildew.

In addition, virtually every room is in disarray, with books, papers, photographs, and furniture pulled away from walls and piled wherever it was driest.

In spite of all this, officers, volunteers, and employees have been working tirelessly to restore the museum, and reopen the doors. A display honoring Muzel Bryant is even planned for this Saturday, although some of the rooms may be roped off.

OPS has fire insurance, but there is, of course, a sizable deductible. If you would like to contribute to the repair and restoration of the museum you may send checks to:

Ocracoke Preservation Society, P.O. Box 1240, Ocracoke, NC 27960.

Other ways of contacting OPS can be viewed here:

To become a member click here:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

It's the Island Way

What better way to celebrate the reopening of NC Highway 12 (and our brand new bridges) than to have a community pot luck dinner! The Ocracoke Civic & Business Association is hosting the event, which will be held at the Community Center at 6 o'clock pm on Wednesday, March 5. The main course and drinks will be provided by OCBA. Everyone is invited.

Of course, the highway will open officially at 5 pm on Wednesday. I am thinking that so many Ocracokers will drive over the bridges between 5 pm & 6 pm that they'll need to be resurfaced on Thursday!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sprucing Up

The days are getting longer, and flowers are bursting forth (see yesterday's post). A new season is quickly approaching. Another sure sign of the coming change is islanders busily putting their homes and businesses in order. As I biked around the village yesterday I noticed local men readying their boats for spring, business owners painting porches and making new signs, and others just messing around in yards and gardens.

Easter is early this year, and spring breaks are spread out over several weeks. And the bridges are scheduled to reopen in a matter of days. It won't be long and Ocracoke Island's months of winter quiet will again meld into a continuing cycle of new activity.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Changing Seasons

I've noticed tulips popping out of the ground these last several days (a few daffodils were already blooming). This morning I saw my first tulip bursting forth with color. So spring must be on its way. Just thought our readers would enjoy seeing some early signs of growth and new life.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a fun island crossword puzzle. You can view it here.