The author of the article, Charles S. Killebrew, had the following to say about Capt. George O'Neal (I have added two recently discovered photos, courtesy of Capt. George's grandson Chester Lynn, to illustrate Killebrew's observations):
"As soon as the mail is aboard, Captain O'Neal 'gets her under way' and that is all you see of him until the boat docks at Ocracoke in Silver Lake, the natural boat basin on the island."
|Capt. George O'Neal at the Helm of the Aleta|
"The engine room is on the same deck with the passengers' cabin, but captain O'Neal closes the door to the engine room and all that is heard from the room is the incessant roar of the powerful diesel engine which pushes the boat."
|Capt. George and the Aleta's Diesel Engine|
According to a paper dated October 27, 1948 from the Caterpillar Tractor Co. pasted to the back of the photo, "A 'Caterpillar' Diesel D4400 Marine Engine powers the 'Aleta', mailboat running to Ocracoke."
To get a sense of Capt. George's job, enlarge the photos, take a careful look...and imagine spending 8 hours a day (4 hours each way from Ocracoke to Atlantic, NC and back), as Capt. George did, in that Spartan cabin, peering out those small windows, with the constant roar of the Diesel engine just a few feet away!
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.