Monday, March 19, 2012

Litter Pick-up

Ocracoke island's first organized litter pick-up happened 38 years ago today. In 1974 I taught at the Ocracoke School, and my class was discussing the environment. Here is an account of the litter pick-up from a personal letter written the day after the event:

"[The students] decided to organize a litter pick-up. They made signs to inform the community, constructed a coffin & tombstone, wrote 'hymns,' & appointed a 'preacher' to conduct the 'service.'

"The entire school spent 8:30 - 10:30 yesterday A.M. picking up trash; then met back at the school to have a funeral procession. the 'pallbearers' carried the coffin full of trash & beer cans from the school down to Capt. John's Junque Shop [now Down Point Decoys] where the service was held. At the head of the procession was a spur of the moment 'crucifer' carrying a highway sign that said 'Unlawful to Throw Trash on Highway -- $50 Fine.' That sign had been found discarded in the bushes along the road. The replacement sign says '$200 Fine,' and the kids figured the highway workers who erected the more recent sign probably just dumped the old one in the bushes!

"There was an electric organ set up at the Junque Shop.... The whole service was really humorous -- & the kids enjoyed it."

Ocracoke has had organized litter pick-ups every spring since 1974, but none as elaborate as that first one.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Civil War on the Outer Banks, Josephus Daniels, Jr, Secretary of the Navy during WWI, and his connection to Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:00 AM

    I'd love to know the names of the first kids that participated. Maybe Melissa, Elaine, Rodney, Ikey etc.??

  2. In 1974 I taught 11th & 12th grades. My students were Sarah, Vivian, Johnny, Frankie, Monroe, Alton, Paul, Rena Dell, Kathy, Howard, Michael, Ginny, and Craig (he was actually in the 10th grade). I believe many of the lower grades also participated, but I can't remember.

  3. Anonymous1:04 PM

    I wish you would do one down West End Road and Central Drive. Thanks!

  4. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Anyone can organize a litter pickup.

  5. Anonymous5:31 PM

    Thank you anonymous 4:13.

  6. debbie s.7:37 PM

    haha precious! Too ironic that they found a do not litter sign during the litter pick up!!!!! now, did you remember all their names off the top of your head, or did you have to go look it up ;) lololol

  7. Of course I remembered all of their names :-) There were only 13 of them!

  8. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Some things don't change... There are only 11 kids in 11th and 12th grade this year: Molly, Echo, Virginia, Cassandra, William, Leslie, Ashley, Emmet, Casey, Miguel and Jordy.

  9. debbie s.7:24 AM

    lol there may have only been 13 of them but it was also 4 years before I was even born lololol ;)

  10. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Why did not someone take a picture of the scene of the crime??. Or call the road department to ask what happened to the old sign? or when did the fine increase??. If the group honestly thought the road department left it behind; they should have pressed the issue. Back in the 70s the environmental movement, earth day-- all were gaining traction and this blatant disregard for the law by government agents needed an accounting for the misdeeds. I find no humor or irony in the situation but an act of stupidity by ignorant baffoons.A teachable moment to quote our president a teachable moment LOST

  11. Anonymous2:28 PM

    to Anonymous 1:58
    I think the irony of the situation probably taught those students more than any political action they might have taken. Come on, lighten up just a little.

  12. Anonymous8:40 AM

    political action? since when is picking up the telephone and asking a question- as a citizen- asking a question as a taxpayer- asking a question about the morality of the actions of road workers and ultimately the actions of the management of the road crew- how is that political action?. The Police department is now called Public Safety to remind the men in blue--- should the litter pick up detail now be called environmental engineering . Are you suggesting-- Anon 2:28 that Questioning the actions of government is political-- hmm well indeed it is! But calling attention to it and asking why did a litter crew from the high school find an expensive road sign in the bushes?? this could have been done by the local newspaper or the HS newspaper- as an investigative reporter assignment --being a steward of the environment is a never ending job.

  13. debbie s.5:21 PM

    oh lord.....

  14. Anonymous10:25 AM

    May I finish the thought-- Lord have mercy, as Pogo said, we have met the enemy and it is Us.

  15. Ginny Naples Graham8:29 PM

    I am Ginny Naples Graham, the girl you taught in '74! Do you happen to have any pics with me in it from those years; i.e. Blackbeard, Oklahoma plays,etc.? I contacted Lisa O'Neal, secretary of the school last summer about this, but she never got back with me. If you have any old pics and are willing to part with them or ost them on here, please let me know!