Today's post takes us back more than three quarters of a century for a glimpse into island life just prior to WWII.
Stanley Wahab built an inexpensive replica of a Spanish style
building on the island, near where the Back Porch Restaurant sits
today. Made of plywood strewn with gravel while the earth-colored paint
was still wet, the 400 square foot Spanish Casino mimicked an adobe
hacienda. The flat roofed structure had extended and crenelated
exterior walls with gently curving main sections. Windows were topped
with decorative trim, and crosses within circles painted near the roof
line suggested a southwestern theme. An open porch on the ocean-facing
side was supported by peeled cedar posts, adding to the Spanish motif.
The interior was one large room with a raised platform on the western wall to accommodate a piano and musicians. Benches were placed along the walls, leaving a sizable dance floor in the middle.
Island natives, Edgar and Walter Howard, brothers who had moved to New
York City to play vaudeville in the 1920s and 1930s, came home
periodically to entertain their fellow islanders. The popular music of
the day included cowboy and western songs and ballads. Once in a while
Edgar's banjo and Walter's guitar accompanied nationally popular
entertainers who followed the Howard brothers to Ocracoke. At times,
other island musicians played at the Spanish Casino. When live music
was unavailable a jukebox served nightly to provide tunes for round
dances, jitterbug, and traditional island square dances.
Although the Spanish Casino is long gone music continues to be an important part of twenty-first century island life.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2013 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count.
You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012114.htm.