Tuesday, July 11, 2017

First Paying Job

In the past I published a few paragraphs from a 1939 interview with Ocracoke native Isaac (Big Ike) O'Neal (1865-1954). Here is another excerpt, reprinted especially for all of the parents in our reading audience!

"I remember the first money I ever made. There was a clam factory here on the island. The man who owned it paid 25 cents a basket for a five-peck basket of clams. I was eight years old, went to Hatteras to get clams, came back with thirteen bushels. I took a yawl boat and was gone two weeks and the man paid me 75 cents, the first money I ever made. And that wasn't money; the clam factory man paid off with due bills that you had to trade out at his store. I got three 25 cent due bills.

"How did I feed myself during the two weeks I was away from home? Well, I started out with two or three pones of corn bread, some sweet potatoes and a cask of water. I took along my steel and flint. Clams were plentiful and two or three times I would catch me a fish and broil it over the coals after I made a fire. Slept on the beach rolled up in the sail cloth which I'd taken off the yawl when I tied up for the night."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a recording of Rex O'Neal telling about the time he fell overboard when he was gigging for flounder. The story was recorded for Coastal Voices, an oral history project about the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks and Down East region of coastal North Carolina. Click here to listen to Rex telling his story: https://carolinacoastalvoices.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/rex-oneal-gigging-flounders-2/.   


  1. Anonymous7:50 AM

    When I did the math, all this adventure occurred in 1873. Back in 1873 I suppose life was a bit different then, families were larger maybe an older brother went along with him. He did not say he went alone; perhaps, it was for dramatic effect he did not mention others joined him on this economic enterprise. Kids was always disappearing and reappearing back then, It's a hard knock life. Remember, they were thinking where did the 19th century go? In a few decades it would be 1900 and the technological mind boggling inventions were just around the corner. They no doubt felt that the times they are a changing.

  2. Anonymous9:36 AM

    Pretty sobering to think of an eight-year-old gone for two weeks from home, coping with meager, even harsh, conditions, just to earn a wee bit of credit at the local store. His stock was some sturdy stuff.......


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