Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Two days ago a reader asked about a hand-lettered sign that hung from a branch of a live oak on Howard Street about 20 years ago. This is the sign:

The sign was made by my daughter's boyfriend who enjoyed teasing me (I was divorced), my father (a widower who liked to get hugs from ladies after lying to them that it was his birthday), and my son (a handsome young true bachelor). We all lived on Howard Street. Marty hung the sign in the tree late one evening. It stayed up there for several years, and became a popular curiosity.

I removed the sign some years ago because I was sure a college student would eventually come along and decide it would be a unique conversation piece for his dorm room. Besides, Lou Ann and I have been together for more than a decade, my father died in 2002, and my son has been married almost 20 years. It was time to take it down.

The sign now rests in my spare bedroom. One hundred years from now the sign may elicit wild speculation about its origin...unless this blog survives, or my children remember to tell their children the story.

Our most recent Ocracoke Newsletter is a compilation of humorous stories told by or about islanders. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:14 AM

    Thanks Philip! As I suspected, an interesting story behind that sign. I was a child for most of the time it was there, and aside from keeping a little closer eye on my mother it didn't apply to me.

    I think personally I liked it because it was one of those things someone could so easily pass right by and never even notice, but I know my whole family enjoyed the humor in it. It also added to the Howard Street atmosphere. I knew I was going somewhere different, somewhere fun.

    I am glad it still lives on, and hopefully it will create speculation one day again! Oh, and now that I am older and married myself I'm glad the walk down Howard Street is a little safer!

  2. Anonymous8:49 AM

    Oh no, I will see a version of this in a catalog . Next to the T-shirt displaying The Past, the Present and the Future walk into a bar. Man, it was TENSE. LOL. PH are we free to insert the surname of any family on a facsimile piece of wood plaque?

  3. I remember the sign well when driving or walking down Howard Street. My kids thought the three Howard boys were scary.
    Tom N.

  4. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Pigtown design has a post about a William Howard from the 1500s and a huge collection of jewelery found lost found all these jewels eyepopping collection and mystery thanks to a Vicount William Howard it is worth checking out pigtown design a meg Fielding production --she is a very interesting read. honestly.