Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Roy Parsons

Many of our readers will remember island native Roy Parsons (1921-2007). He was a regular performer at the Ocracoke Opry.

Photo Courtesy Island Free Press

In 2003 Ken McAlpine visited Ocracoke and attended an Opry show in November. This is how Ken remembered Roy's performance in his book Off-Season:

"Roy played three songs on guitar and harmonica, and I had the impression that, had the other musicians not joined him onstage, he would have played a few more. The pace of the songs waxed and waned, but there was no doubt that Roy still possessed plenty of wind. After the third song he remained sitting on his stool.

"There was a long silence.

"Gary Mitchell knelt beside him.

"'So, said Gary, 'what did you do for Thanksgiving, Roy?'

"'I had some turkey, and lots of pie and collards,' stated Roy.

"'I didn't get any collards,' said Gary amiably.

"'Well, you should have come around, I'd have given you some.' Roy returned to sitting ramrod straight and silent.

"'Well, Roy,' said Gary, ater a pause. 'Way back when, what were Thanksgivings on the island like: Did you eat turkey?'

"We didn't have any,' said Roy tartly. 'We didn't know what a turkey was. All we had was fish and clams and crabs. That's how I lived so long.'

"There was another pregnant pause. I could imagine Roy at home, spending the day neatly laying out his clothes, gathering his guitar and harmonica, considering and reconsidering his song list, waiting patiently in a favorite chair until evening purpled, then darkened, his windows.

"In our youth-obsessed culture the old rarely take the stage anymore, except to extol the virtues of various laxatives or the positive assets of denture cream. These are not positions of respect.

"Nobody rushed Roy, or filled the silence with a joke at his expense. The audience waited patiently.

"'Do you have any Thanksgiving memories from long ago, Roy" Gary finally asked.

"Roy considered this for only a moment. 'No,' he said flatly."


Anyone who remembers Roy's performances at the Opry can picture the scene above. We all miss Roy.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the dramatic story of life-saver Rasmus Midgett and his rescue of the crew of the barkentine Priscilla in August, 1899. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052116.htm.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:41 AM

    "In our youth obsessed culture the old rarely take the stage" lets see Martha Stewart is in her 70's Ellen Degeneress in her 50's, Bernie Sanders Donald Trump
    Hillary Clinton Diane Rheem, egads Morley Safer just retired now he is dead. Jimmy Buffett, in his 60;s fell off the stage in concert and got back on eventually. Is our culture youth obsessed only those interested in selling a reality TV show but wait I think we are a food obsessed culture there is an entire TV network devoted to food and watching people judge those that prepare the food. Go figure Oh we are a robot obsessed culture too. from cars to smart houses we have to ask our phone questions to find the answers Suri, what is an encyclopedia??.