Saturday, September 07, 2013


Yesterday's post reminded me of Ken McAlpine's 2004 book, Off Season. So I went back and skimmed through his chapter on Ocracoke where he relates attending a pot luck supper at my house. This is what he writes:

"'One of the nicest things about living on Ocracoke,' [Philip said], 'is there's very little pretension. Everybody knows who you really are. I don't know what evening get-togethers are like off the island anymore, but I suspect they're kind of stiffer. Here it's more like family. You're not trying to impress anybody about anything because everybody knows you.'

"I thought of parties I'd been to; strangers often react to one another by subtly, or not so subtly, marking their place, mentioning their job (neurologist), or their children's accomplishments (elementary school neurologist), or maybe how they once saw the top of Oliver Sacks's head moving across the airport concourse. It was like dogs peeing on trees. On this night I had been spared this uncomfortable ritual. People accepted me as I was and offered themselves as they were. I had enjoyed it immensely."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the recent skirmishes islanders have had with North Carolina legislatures over the issue of ferry tolls...and a 1955 newspaper editorial advocating free, state-operated ferries across Hatteras Inlet. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous1:04 PM

    I love your description of people marking their place at a party! When my husband is asked what he 'does', he will reply that he's 'in accounting'. That is almost always met with 'Hmmmm." (Usually he is not asked follow up questions.) I asked him once why he insists on giving that answer (he is a tax attorney.) He said it prevents idiots from going on about what's wrong with the tax code, the president, the banking system, and most importantly, being asked a 'quick question' for which there is always a long answer.

  2. debbie s.1:56 PM

    maybe that's why I'm more sociable and outgoing (and happy) on Ocracoke than at 'home'. No one is trying to pretend to be something they aren't, or trying to impress anyone...

  3. Bear MacDonald9:09 AM

    I was once asked, "What do you do?" at a get together. I replied that I like bird watching, photographing derelict buildings and such. He was clearly annoyed to which I questioned, "Oh you mean how do I justify myself in our social Hierarchy?"