|Blanche on her porch, 2015|
Photo by Peter Vankevich
The Ocracoke community was saddened to learn that Blanche died this past Thursday. She was 98 years old.
Blanche had a prodigious memory and a generous spirit. Many an afternoon and evening I walked across the lane to sit on her pizer or in her living room, listening to her sharing stories about days gone by. She told me stories about island churches, schoolhouses, general stores, post offices, and prominent islanders. Among so many other subjects, she recalled tales of shipwrecks, schooners, and the iron men who sailed them. She remembered walking to the beach to view the 1925 wreck of the four-masted schooner, Victoria S.
In 2015 Blanche received the Ocracoke Cultural Heritage Award from the Ocracoke Preservation Society for her many contributions toward preserving the history, culture and traditions of Ocracoke Island.
Several posts about Blanche that I published on this blog are available here.
As a tribute to Blanche and her lasting contributions to her island home I am printing the words to one of many poems and hymns that embodied Blanche's spirit, and that she committed to memory and often recited for me:
"A Psalm of Life"
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Farewell Blanche! We miss you.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.