Our third reader question from several days ago is "How was the village different from the way it is today?"
Actually I've addressed this in some of my answers to the previous questions. Before I was six years old the mailboat (or a private boat) was the only way to get to Ocracoke. There were no ferries...and no paved roads (except, as I mentioned, the concrete road the Navy built in 1942). After WWII Ocracokers brought Army surplus Jeeps and Dodge Power Wagons to the island. They, at least, could negotiate the sandy roads.
In those days virtually everyone living on Ocracoke was related in one way or another...often in several ways. There were a number of double first cousins.
There were a few hotels and restaurants (the Island Inn & Coffee Shop, Wahab Village Hotel [now Blackbeard's Lodge]...and by the 1960s, the Harborside Motel, and the Pony Island Motel & Restaurant...plus several tourist homes that had catered to hunters and fishermen for years). Old Jake Alligood and his wife Myra ran a hangout with a jukebox for teenagers (ice cream, snow cones, candy, soft drinks, etc.) where Sunflower Studio is today.
We teenagers seldom wore shoes. I was always impressed when an islander stomped out a cigarette with his bare foot. Few of the boys wore shoes to school...and during hunting season they would simply prop their weapons up against the classroom wall.
After the roads were paved Ocracoke got a deputy sheriff. The boys put a pebble behind deputy Archie Wahab's hubcap so they would know when he was approaching.
The "bald beach" extended right up to where the Variety Store is located today. From there to where the NPS campground is now there was nothing but a wide tidal flat from ocean to sound...with an occasional dune here and there. This area is call "the Plains." Hundreds of terns and other birds nested on the bald beach.
There was also much less vegetation in the village. I remember sitting in the sandy lane in front of the house I now live in, with a pad of drawing paper on my easel. I drew a pen and ink sketch of the newly built Berkeley Castle (now the Castle B&B). Today I can't see past my neighbor's trees and garage.
Visiting neighbors and relatives was an important part of island social life. There was no TV or air conditioning, so we visited. The major social event of the day was greeting the mailboat when it pulled up to the dock in the late afternoon. It seemed like the entire village would turn out to see who was on the boat...and, of course, to get their mail.
This may be difficult to imagine, but there was a movie theater on the island in the 1950s. It was in the ground floor of the Wahab Village Hotel (Blackbeard's Lodge).
Ocracoke is different in 2011...but still a great place to live.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a list of traditional island remedies. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032111.htm.