|Delaware Avenue, Philadelphia, 1905|
The men reluctantly left their island home in the spring of the year, after the ice had melted on the river, and returned "as soon as they could write their name in the frost on a scow" (as Cecil Bragg reports in his book, Ocracoke Island: Pearl of the Outer Banks).
Some men married up north, and settled permanently in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware. Some, like my father remained there until retirement, then moved back home to Ocracoke. Others continued to make the twice yearly trek, often working as fishing and hunting guides in Pamlico Sound in the fall and winter. A few stayed up north for only a year or two (or maybe even only a month or two) before returning home and eking out a living as best they could on the water.
By the middle of the 20th century Ocracokers witnessed many modern developments -- electricity, ferry service, paved roads, telephones, and eventually the Internet. Ocracoke was no longer an isolated community with limited economic growth. Now new opportunities were quickly opening up. The last Ocracoker I know of to go north to work in Philadelphia was born in the 1940s.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first person account of the "Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Windows Heist." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.