Tuesday, November 08, 2011


The Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department cookbook, Hoi Toiders' Recipes and Remembrances, contains quite a few historical gems. On page 60, under the recipe for Frozen Fruit Salad, we find this paragraph:

"When a banana boat went aground near Hatteras Inlet, the high tide line was nothing but bananas. Every kid on Ocracoke had a belly ache according to Elsie Ballance who was the town nurse."

The year was 1927, the date December 4, and the vessel was the Norwegian steamer Cibao. My dad was sixteen years old. He often told me about all the bananas they had -- bunches and bunches hanging from pegs...too many to eat before they went bad.

The wreck...and the rescue...were quite dramatic. Newspapers from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Miami, and elsewhere, ran the story. The storm was so intense, and the water was so turbulent, that the US Coast Guard was unable to maneuver their power lifeboat close enough to the wreck. Even with their self-bailing surfboat, they were thwarted in rowing close enough to the stranded vessel. Finally the life savers succeeded in instructing each of the sailors to tie a line around his waist and jump into the raging breakers, one at a time. Each sailor, cold, wet, and exhausted, was pulled aboard the surfboat. It took three trips from the station to the wreck and back to the station to bring all twenty-four members of the crew safely to shore.

After the storm abated on December 6 the cargo, 17,000 bunches of bananas from Jamaica, were jettisoned, and the ship was eventually refloated and towed to New York City.

The officers of the US Coast Guard were promoted because of their bravery and courage.

Click here to read the report from the Miami Daily News, December 5, 1927.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article written by my Uncle Marvin in 1954. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102111.htm.


  1. Anonymous7:38 AM

    Philip, I'm going bananas over this amazing story! (Oh, I just had to say it!) I had heard parts of the story before, but not in complate detail. What an unusual picture this scene of thousands of bananas creates in my mind.

    Oh, is the cookbook you reference available?

    Once again, thanks for adding a smile to our day.

  2. I spoke with Albert, our fire chief, and he told me they don't have any immediate plans to reprint the cookbook...but maybe some day.

  3. Phillip, do you know who this Solomon is? Thanks.

    1850 United States Federal Census

    Name: Solomon Howard
    Age: 12
    Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838
    Birth Place: North Carolina
    Gender: Male
    Home in 1850: Ocracoke, Hyde, North Carolina
    Family Number: 1
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Abner Howard 52
    Elizabeth Howard 54
    Solomon Howard 12
    Mary Howard 17

    Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Ocracoke, Hyde, North Carolina; Roll: M432_634; Page: 398B; Image: 375.

  4. Bob, the Solomon Howard you refer to was my great grandfather's first cousin. He was named after his uncle (my great-great grandfather) Solomon Howard (1807-1853).

    Solomon Howard (b. ca. 1838) was the son of Abner and Elizabeth Williams Howard. They had seven children: Sarah, Amon, Wallace, Simon B, Solomon, Mary, and another daughter.

    I don't know anything else about this Solomon. I am guessing he died rather young.

  5. Anonymous11:42 AM

    According to Blanche...she & my mother(Edith Garrish)would have been in 1st or 2nd grade together and most likely were 2 of those poor little kids. Surprisingly, I never heard this amusing little story, so thanks for filling in another little Ocracoke tidbit. PS: Elsie Ballance married Uriah Garrish---right?

  6. Elsie Ballance married Irving Garrish.

  7. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Oops-I stand corrected. Yes that was Maude Williams, a cook not a nurse. I don't know HOW you keep them all straight! Thanks again.

  8. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Bananas going bad impossible too bad a banana bread baking brigade wasn't formed. Bananas are shipped green-unripe these banana eaters should have known better, also there is a disease plaguing the canvadish banana the common banana found in the US produce isle. on another note Headline Miami FL -- Man found dead in home filled with bees. fell off a chair not a roof attempting to remove the bees from a bedroom. He should have called the swat team. Bee removal, yellow jacket removal is not a DYI project. He fell off the chair coud the bees have been bothered and started to defend the nest

  9. Anonymous12:23 PM

    Philip the Miami link-- that edition had an article about a related incident to the TEAPOT dome scandal!!!

    no wonder Sinclair Oil changed the co name Oil companies BIG BIG money for those running the show

  10. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Thanks, Philip, for checking on the cookbook. I hope "some day" the fire chief will consider reprinting the cookbook. It might be a great way to make some money for the OVFD.

    I collect Ocracoke (and other) cookbooks and would love to have one for my collection.