Friday, October 19, 2018

Rob Hanks

Ocracoke Island has been home to many a colorful character. "Rob Hanks" (Robert Dosier Tolson, 1895-1961) was one of the most memorable. In the 1950s Rob offered to tell visitors "the story of Ocracoke and Blackbeard" for a dime. He was short and slight of build. He often wore a white sailor's cap, a jacket, and long pants, even in the middle of the summer. Rob Hanks could usually be found at Springer's Point, near where Blackbeard met his end in November, 1718.

Rob Hanks

 In a 1960 magazine article by John Bird ("The Wondrous Outer Banks"), the author recounts meeting Rob Hanks as the author "wandered around the village taking photographs." He writes, "We met a pleasant, weathered old rascal, who spoke in broadest dialect of the Banks and claimed – without authority other than his own, I’m afraid – that “Oy manages this stretch o’ beach.” He guided us to the alleged hide-out of Blackbeard the Pirate. Here he gave a highly colored account of the battle in which Blackbeard was slain, winding up, “And ‘tis said that arter Maynard chopped off the poirate’s ‘ead, the ‘eadless body swum three times ‘round the ship afore it went out to sea and sunk.”

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here:

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