Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sandy Lanes

Old timers and long-time visitors to Ocracoke will often refer to Howard Street as a "sandy lane." More recent islanders and visitors sometimes call it an "unpaved road" or an "oyster shell" road. For the past 40-50 years residents along Howard Street have been putting shells, stones, concrete pieces and asphalt shingles in the road to harden it. For the most part we have been successful in keeping Howard Street navigable. Cars no longer get stuck in the deep sand. But we pay for it with mud, pot holes and puddles.

Below are two vintage photos (taken prior to 1960) -- one of the British Cemetery Road (near the old George Howard cemetery), and the other of Howard Street. As you can see, both roads are deep, soft sand.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article written by my Uncle Marvin in 1954. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous6:48 AM

    Philip, as you certainly know, some modern conveniences are not always welcomed on O.I., but I am sure the improvement to the roads are to most folks, a blessing.

    "Your" Howard Street is still a twisting little, tucked-away, almost secret lane which should, if at all possible, be enjoyed on foot. I have found myself meandering along the trail, discovering little treasures, along the way....simple joys in the beauty of the shady oaks, pretty cottages with bright flowers, large cisterns of days-gone-by, fascinating and sweet little cemeteries and of course, wonderful and inviting VC while enjoying the background noises of melodic birds and "people voices" from neighboring cottages. At the end of my walk, there is the Ocracoke Methodist church framed in old cedars and just beyond, the Ocracoke school.

    I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny morning or pleasant afternoon.

    My late husband, who battled MS for many years, and I even journeyed Howard Street when Scott had to use a scooter and eventually a wheelchair. More than once, he would get "stuck" in a hole and I would pull or push until we could continue along the lane. I give anything to be on Howard Street again with my husband, even if he were to get stuck! :)

    As always, thanks for sharing the vintage photos and your thoughts. It has brought back touching memories this Thursday morning.

  2. I found the cookbook on Ebay that Anonymous wanted from your blog on the banana's. I will bring it to you the next time I am on the island and you can get it to her to add to her collection.

  3. Anonymous12:19 PM

    I have been to various cities, experienced interesting approaches to educating the visitor from cell phone tours-- at a spot you call the number to hear a recorded message about the location (now with a smart phone I suppose the possibilities are endless video music etc) from a single spaced typed (ugh) directions leading you about Savannah -- would the state offer grants to fund the creation of suitable enjoyable self guided waking tours

  4. Anonymous12:24 PM

    There is a nice book available on the island which is a walking tour with lovely photos and history of each. Am thinking it is available at Phillip's shop. We brought guests this year and they really enjoyed using it. Howards St. is wonderful and there are many nice walks in and out of town. The library has a lot of useful books about Ocracoke-we bought one (a splurge) Ocracoke Album as a very old cottege we loved to stay at was on the cover. Thankfully it survived a recent change of ownership. The Album is at the library as well. The staff there are very nice about questions and copying things too. And coffee and thrift across the street! Sue M

  5. Anonymous4:01 PM

    What a coincidence--I just finished reading "Ocracoke Portrait" written in1988 by Ann Ehringhaus, and on page 8 she quotes someone who should know... "It may be only one lane and sand, but Howard Street is probably one of the prettiest streets on the whole East Coast." Sound familiar, Philip?

  6. Several years ago Lou Ann and I created an MP3 walking tour of Ocracoke village, but it was complicated to use...and the technology kept changing. We are thinking of producing it as a CD. Or maybe we'll look into some other possibilities.

  7. Anonymous4:49 PM

    John, I'm the NC mainlander (Nancy) who inquired Philip about the cookbook. How kind of you to locate one!!!!!!

    Philip, please let me know when you receive it.

    This puts a smile on my face! Wow!

  8. Anonymous5:49 AM

    Re. Howard Street, I've told people for years that Howard Street looks like what you'd expect to see in one of those classic, old live-action Disney films about a quaint beach town.

  9. Anonymous7:40 AM

    The books that fellow bloggers described are all amazing. I have each one in my cherished "Ocracoke Books Collection". Jack Dudley's Ocracoke Album is more expensive than most, but it is more of a coffee table style book and has wonderful pages of large, reproduced vintage photos and lots of interesting, historical information. This book is getting harder to locate, so treasure your copy if you have one; and if you don't own one, grab one when you can. Ann E's book is breathtaking from cover to cover & I recently purchased my copy from VC. Jude located me a copy after it was out of stock. Thanks, Jude!The Ocracoke Walking Tour is delightful and helpful.

    Books are so special, even in these modern days of Kindles and I-Pads. I can pick up any of my Ocracoke books and I can still smell the marvelous earthy scent of cedar from Philip's VC. I close my eyes and I'm immediately transported on quaint Howard Street. Ahhhh.....

    I believe this NC Mainlander will enjoy a few of these special Ocracoke Island books now and be "transported" to the most treasured spot on earth.

  10. Anonymous8:04 AM

    Philip, I just took another close look at your interesting vintage photos. The first one, near the George Howard cemetery, has a fellow walking in the middle of the sandy lane. He appears to be in a suit. Do you have any idea who this man is?

  11. Anon 4:01 -- I forgot that my quotation about Howard Street is in Ann's book. Thanks for reminding me.

    Nancy -- please send me an email (piphoward at embarqmail dot com). Then I can let you know when John brings the cookbook.

    Ocracoke Album and Ocracoke Walking Tour are available from Village Craftsmen:

    Anon 8:04 -- I'm sorry but I don't have any idea who that is walking down the British Cemetery Road. Maybe someone else from Ocracoke can identify him or her (I am not convinced it is a man).

  12. Anonymous11:37 AM

    From anon.4:01 (D.C.) ...on p.8 of Ann's lovely book you also told an interesting tale from your childhood. I think your readers who haven't heard it would get a kick out of it. Heck-- I HEARD it before, and I still chuckled!

  13. Ann 11:37 -- I don't have Ann's book in front of me, but I think the story you are referring to was told by John Ivey Wells. Is it the story of tripping over the sleeping horse after dark??

  14. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Anon 8:04 here....Philip, I looked at that picture several moments and pondered the same. Man or would be interesting to know who it is. However, regardless of the person's name, he or she had to have a lot of sand in their shoes!

    Thanks for letting your faithful bloggers nag you with all sorts of questions!

    You are a good sport to put up with us! :)

  15. Anonymous1:31 PM

    From D.C.---Thanks for the reply. That's the one. As usual you are right. Since it was on the same page, I thought it was one of your stories. Nevertheless :-D

  16. I also have Ocracoke Album. Love all of my Ocracoke books

  17. Anonymous11:44 AM

    Pat, isn't it amazing how one can take a rainy afternoon, pull out one of the many wonderful Ocracoke books we all have in our collections, and in an instant, be transported all those miles, and appear right in the middle of that little dot of land off the NC coast? It happens to me every single time I spend an enjoyable couple of hours remembering all those pleasant memories. Sometimes, I only get through a few pages of a book because I am suddenly thinking I'm on O.I. and the endless memories come fast and furious. Minutes turn into a couple of hours in no time at all!

    When this NC Mainlander can't be physcially on Ocracoke, the amazing books, along with Philip's blog and newsletter & the Ocracoke Observer newspaper are very good substitutes for the real thing.

  18. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Sand lanes are great for walking in the summer in bare feet, especially down Howard Street.

  19. Anonymous12:09 AM

    Love, love, love Howard Street! Just spent last week there, in the Gaskins O'Neal house. How wonderful it was to come "home" to the cottage those wonderful days and feel truly blessed to be on the island. Even with the knock-down, drag out storm and power outages.!Glad the bridge is up! Valerie from Virginia