Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ocracoke Greeting

Half a century ago Ocracoke men often greeted each other in a manner that would seem quite peculiar today, although it was nothing more than an old tradition with historic, even ancient, roots. You can read about it here:


  1. Toni W.8:38 AM

    Interesting article...

  2. Anonymous9:57 AM

    I am afraid to read it!

  3. Anonymous10:21 AM

    Brings a new meaning to Testify. Afraid to read it !!! You have nothing to fear but fear itself. If you read the Teenagers with knives post you can Handle this one.

  4. Anonymous12:56 PM

    You know, Philip, the thought just crossed my mind, "Today's not April first, is it?"

    Wow, the things you come up with about Orcacoke--and the lengths you go to address them authoritatively! Always an engaging read.

    Of course, this latest post of your begs questions:

    - Do you recall engaging in this practice yourself (or having it engaged upon yourself), or was it in its throes by the time you were an island regular?

    - For clarity's sake, exactly what area of the body are you referring to when you say "inner thigh"? Higher? Lower? More or less "inner"?

    - Was this a "Shake with the right hand while patting the inner thigh with the left" sort of move? Was it in place of a handshake?

    - And please believe me when I say that this next question is posed purely for the sake of cultural/anthropological clarity: Might we coax you into shooting/posting a photo that illustrates this greeting? (After seeing you in your Valentine's Day finest, after all, I would think this request would rather pale in comparison.)

    In any case, thanks, as always, Philip, for feeding our interest in Ocracoke and for indulging our curiosity.

    You always keep things interesting.


    1. I think you just had to be there to understand this gesture, but I am not making it up. There were only a couple of native Ocracokers who would greet me and others this way by the 1970s. A photo? I thought about it...but decided not to risk asking any of my friends to volunteer.

      Stop me sometime in the village and I'll do my best to explain it better.

  5. I prefer not to comment on this in any way.

    1. Anonymous7:55 AM

      Lou I have your permission to grab Philip's inner thigh when I am back on the island in May?

  6. Bill Walker9:35 AM

    Was it acceptable for men to greet women this way? I can picture a lot more people being openly friendly.

    1. No, it wasn't. As you realized,that would add a whole new dimension to this tradition.

  7. Anonymous9:47 AM

    This strikes me as so...odd? curious? freaky?
    Indeed, I am having a hard time picturing this..did guys bend down, lean in, reach across?
    A photo may help or maybe just be disturbing. I have a hard time seeing those hardy fisherguys on O doing this. At the same time it makes me giggle! Thanks Phillip for this odd one! SueM

    1. There is no need to find this custom disturbing or freaky. It was in no way sensual. It only seems odd from our present-day sensibilities. In fact, it was simply a brief "Hey Buck, how you doin'?" kind of greeting.

      I don't imagine the Biblical patriarchs thought of their "swearing of oaths" custom as unusual either, but today we'd raise eyebrows if this occurred in a court of law.

      But I'm glad you enjoyed the post.