Thursday, May 03, 2018

Lawton's Phone Call

My father, Lawton Howard, moved from Ocracoke to Philadelphia in 1927. He was just sixteen years old. Like so many other young island men, he moved north to work on dredges and tugboats with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Although Lawton married and raised his family in Pennsylvania, he always maintained a strong connection with Ocracoke. Every summer he returned with his family to the island, and he kept in touch throughout the year.

Lawton & Philip, ca. 1950

Soon after telephones were installed on the island (in the mid-1950s) Lawton placed a call to one of his cousins, but he was connected to a wrong number. In those days with real, live operators, Lawton called to report the mistake and to have the charge removed from his bill. After he explained the mistake to the operator she pointed out that the call to the "wrong number" had lasted fifteen minutes. Lawton immediately explained that it was a wrong number, but, as it turned out, he knew the person who had answered (of course he did; it was Ocracoke) so he couldn't just hang up!

I don't remember if the operator removed the charge or not.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: .


  1. That is a great picture. I'm sure you remember it like it was yesterday...

  2. Anonymous9:19 AM

    Period articles of clothing fascinate me.If we think young folk all dress alike today this example of typical attire worn by a youngster echos the "Dennis the Menace" look. having said that Mom buys the clothes. some could be hand me downs thus the "look"spans a decade or two-- depending on the size of the family and the practice of passing clothes to friends and family. Still function over form prevailed in a simpler time. Clothes were heavier as the items are not shipped from overseas. If one thinks about it, would clothes worn today be around 70 years from now??? Now Princess Dianna's wedding gown probably would be but my cargo pants Not so much.


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