Friday, October 14, 2011

Blanche & Blanche

All winter long, and all summer long, I've tried to get Blanche to go out with me to take a look at the old fishing boat being restored behind the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum. The boat was begun by Mr. Tom Neal more than 80 years ago for a neighbor, Mr. Warren Scarborough. Before the boat was finished, when she was just a keel and ribs, Mr. Warren decided to sell her. Blanche’s daddy, Stacy Howard, traded one of his boats, the Lela, plus some money for the boat…and had the unfinished boat hauled over to his yard by truck. It was about 1929.

My grandfather, Homer Howard, with help from Stacy, added planking, gunwales, decking, and a cabin. When the boat was finished Stacy named her the Blanche. She was launched about 1934. Stacy used her for long hauling, sink-netting, and to take out fishing parties.

According to Blanche, “papa loved that boat.”

Finally, last Saturday I convinced Blanche that the weather was just perfect for making a visit to her namesake. She was delighted to see the boat . She said how happy her papa would be to know the Blanche was protected and in the process of being restored.

You can read more about the Blanche here:

Philip & Blanche by the side of the Blanche:

On your next visit to the OPS Museum be sure to walk around back and take a look at the Blanche, an important part of Ocracoke's maritime heritage.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of slavery on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous6:27 AM

    Oh, what a great photo, Philip! So glad you convinced Blanche to visit her pappa's old boat.

    Blanche, the person, looks wonderful. Blanche, the boat, is looking good, too.

    I didn't realize, however, how much shorter your Aunt Blanche is than you. She amazes me how "young" she looks. I'm equally amazed she let you have a picture taken of her!

  2. Phillip: Did Blanche once have ashop selling dishes, etc and her own artwork?

  3. Pat: No,that was Elnora Hamilton. Elnora died several years ago.

    1. Philip and Pat, I am so glad to find mention of Elenora Hamilton. Being a hair stylist from Nashville Tn. I took a solo trip to Ocracoke Island staying in an old rustic hotel facing the harbor. I wondered into Elenora's store and spent the entire day talking with her.. She mentioned being a retired hair stylist creating an immediate connection. When the phone rang, she left me in charge of her store while she tended to her blind sister .I bought several of her poems / artwork which hang on my walls today. She forever changed me with her overflowing love, leaving me with the dream of making 'this treasure in the sea" my home one day. Thank you Elenora R.I.P.

  4. Yes now I remember. Thanks. My husband liked to go there just to talk.

    Actually there is a pic of her in one of my books.

  5. Anonymous8:10 PM

    Remarkable for Blanche and you to share this historical Ocracoke story.
    I loved it!

  6. Debbie Leonard9:51 AM

    I met a woman at the Methodist church and I didn't get her name; she told me that she is the oldest person on the island. Who would that be? She was so nice; I've met her before and she has always been welcoming to me.

  7. Debbie, that was Eleanor Garrish. She is super nice...and still spry!

  8. Debbie Leonard6:18 PM

    Yes, she is very nice! Thanks.

  9. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Hi Phillip-so glad the real Blanche got to see her boat. Thought the article in the paper was quite remarkable-such a lengthy story about that sweet little sloop. She reminds me of my 94 year old Aunt Dot in Lillington. Quite stylish and spry. Dot gave me some geneology about my grandmother's family-and I found a Howard! Will send you the info when time. Sue M./Macomb IL

  10. I have a beautiful little painting that I bought on the island in the 80s. It is signed Elenora. Would that have been Elenora Hamilton? It is one of my most prized possessions and I have always wondered who she was.

    1. It certainly sounds like your painting was made by Elnora Hamilton. Elnora Williams (1911-2003) was a native Ocracoker. She married Norton Hamilton. Her two children live on the island today.