Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do Your Best

Blanche and I were sitting on her pizer a few days ago, chatting about the weather, current events, and island history. Talk turned to Essie Mae O'Neal (1915-1999). In spite of growing up on Ocracoke before the introduction of most modern conveniences, having only the most basic public education...and raising eleven children (all boys!) Essie somehow found time to wax philosophical, and to write poetry. Following is one of her poems, "Do Your Best" (spelling as in the original):

Just do your best in whatever you do.
Although it may not be easy for you sometimes.
Half heartindness never accomplished a goal, but positive thinking is good for your soal.
Just do your best that's all one can ask, in spite of the odd's whatever the task.
So what if you work up a sweet, you first have to give before you can get.
Do your best with whatever you have, wheather it's good or wheather it's bad.
You will know in your heart when each day is through, you have done everything that God expects of you.

Life changes, time marches by, and the old folks pass on. I like having some of Essie's poems to remember her by, and to share with others. Enjoy.

Essie did her best!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story of the Night Blooming Cereus Cactus. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous6:34 AM

    Bless her heart.

  2. Anonymous7:22 AM

    What a lovely legacy to leave behind.

    My parents always taught my sisters and I the same lesson. I was consistantly an "A" student in most every subject, except in geometry and algebra. Whatever grades I brought home in these two challenging subjects, my parents would simply ask, "Honey, did you do your very best?" I replied, "Yes, believe me, I did!" "Well, then, that's all we can ask of you! Keep studying hard and you will get it!", responded my parents, usually in unison!

    Essie must have had a lovely heart and Lord knows, a lot of energy and spunk with so many boys to raise!

    Thanks, Philip, for sharing such a sweet memory and for making my day!

  3. Dawn Taylor7:38 AM

    Eleven boys, oh my ! No doubt, they were the inspiration for her poem.

  4. Essie and Harry's eleven boys help explain why there are 34 O'Neals listed in the 2011 Ocracoke telephone directory!

  5. Time passes and old folks pass on as you say, but what Essie saw was true for her generation and children is just as true for us today.

  6. Anonymous10:29 AM

    Nice memories. She must have been quite a lady. Interesting to know there are 34 O'Neal families on Ocracoke alone-got me wondering about the Howards & Garrishes and other original settlers. Any statistics?

  7. debbie s.11:24 AM

    love it!

  8. Ron Kostar1:33 PM

    philip, is this rex's mom?

  9. There are only 2 Ocracoke Howards listed in the 2011 phone directory; 15 Garrishes; 9 Gaskills; 6 Gaskins; 2 Williamses; 0 Jacksons; 0 Wahabs; 0 Braggs; 0 Harveys; 0 Salters; & 0 Graces.

    But that is a little deceptive. Some people have no land line phone...just a cell phone, so they are not listed in the directory. E.g. there are at least 2 Howards not listed, and there are still Jacksons living on the island. On the other hand, I don't believe any of the Williamses in the directory trace their family to Ocracoke's early settlers. There have not been Harveys, Salters, or Graces on the island for many many years.

  10. Anonymous4:41 PM

    Well thank you so much, Philip!

  11. Ron, yes that is right. Essie was Rex's mama.

  12. And Uncle Harry's wife, and an avid and accomplished beach drum fisherwoman if I remember correctly.