Yesterday evening I carried a plate of food to Mabel's house. Mabel's daddy, Theodore Mutro, died suddenly on Monday. He was one of the last islanders who, as servicemen, had been assigned to Ocracoke during WWII. As a member of the US Coast Guard, Mutro was part of the force that put an end to the carnage inflicted on Allied shipping by German U boats in 1942. While on the island he fell in love and married a local woman, Ollie Styron. I'm told it was Ollie's cooking that clinched the deal!
I had only planned on staying for a a few minutes, just to offer my condolences. But Mabel and her family insisted that I sit down. We chatted about old times, remembered island characters long gone, and shared humorous stories. I was offered fried chicken and homemade potato salad (how could I resist?). Before I knew it, it was nearly nine o'clock. I'd been there almost two hours.
On the way home I thought about this preserved island tradition of bringing food and comfort to grieving neighbors. It takes a burden off the family, provides emotional support, and is one more opportunity to participate in genuine community.
A graveside service will be held this morning at 11 o'clock at the Community Cemetery.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story of participating in the 2008 Christmas Bird Count on Portsmouth Island. You can read it here.
To read about Philip's new book, Digging up Uncle Evans, History, Ghost Tales, & Stories from Ocracoke Island, please click here.