Monday, February 18, 2019

Early 2oth Century Marketing Strategy

In 1937, the Hyde County Board of Commissioners, in response to a petition signed by 132 “citizens, taxpayers, and voters,” passed a resolution to ban the sale of beer on Ocracoke Island. It was not until 1978, when Howard's Pub opened, that beer was again legally for sale on Ocracoke. In the late 1970s an ABC store was established. And only in 2006 was the sale of liquor by the drink approved. Nevertheless, various alcoholic beverages were usually available from local bootleggers. I recently heard the following anecdote from about 1940:

An islander approached J......... B........., one of the local bootleggers, inquiring about purchasing a bottle of liquor.

"You're lucky," J......... replied. "There's been a run on liquor lately, and I only have one bottle left."

After a brief pause, J........... added, "What would you like, rum or vodka?"


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit."  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

East Howard Street

East Howard Street

This picturesque sandy lane is a portion of what was once merely a foot path, but then became the main road through Ocracoke village.

In 1835, petitioners requested permission to lay out a one-lane public thoroughfare on the North side of Cockle Creek, from “just North of Thomas Bragg’s House” (near the present-day School road) to “John Pike’s garden” (in the vicinity of where the OPS Museum is today) and then all the way to the Sound.

In 1957, when the state of North Carolina paved most of the island roads, the eastern end of this road was left untouched. Almost immediately Mr. Stacy Howard nailed a homemade wooden sign to a tree in front of his house and dubbed this "East Howard Street." At that time at least eight Howard families, all descendants of William Howard, Sr., colonial owner of Ocracoke, lived along this street.

Second-Generation Howard Street Sign

In 1759 William Howard, Sr., purchased Ocracoke Island. He was the last of the colonial owners, but the first to call Ocracoke home. Descendants of his son, William, Jr., settled in this area. Five generations of the original Howard family are buried in the several small graveyards along East Howard Street, protected by simple wooden fences.

Eventually the lane became known simply as Howard Street. It is generally only the older generation of islanders who still use Stacy Howard's original designation, East Howard Street.

This past fall the Howard Street sign disappeared. In a spirit of community that is so typical of Ocracoke, several friends and neighbors immediately made new signs.

Howard Street Signs, 2019


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit."  

Wednesday, February 06, 2019


A number of years ago I came into possession of a 1976 manuscript that had been housed in the University of Iowa Library system. Titled Epitaphs for Voice Oboe & Harpsicord (or Piano), it was composed by Lewis Phelps, winner of the 1976-1977 Composition Competition of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors.

Phelps' preface to his compilation of twelve "miniature songs" explains that "Epitaphs, written to extol the virtues of the deceased, often reveal something about the survivors as well, and present an interesting commentary on humankind generally." His compositions use texts that are "actual inscriptions found in cemeteries from New York to Arizona," selected from "American Epitaphs by Charles L. Wallis."

The composer's ninth selection is based on the epitaph (one commentator has called this epitaph a "convoluted tribute") found on the tombstone of Agnes Howard (1780 - 1857), located in the old George Howard cemetery on British Cemetery Road:

"She was!
But words are wanting to say what.
Think what a wife should be.
She was that." 

Agnes Howard Grave Marker on Ocracoke

 The following two pages show Phelps' score for "Agnes Howard":

Phelps explains that "Epitaphs is written for a small one-manual harpsichord with a range of four octaves, 8' and 4' hand-operated stops, with a lute on 8'. When a larger instrument is used, the registration may be adjusted slightly.... Dynamic markings which appear in the keyboard part are intended for piano."

Maybe some of our readers will enjoy playing and singing ("tenderly," advises the author) this song based on the epitaph of Agnes Howard from Ocracoke Island.


To be notified when we publish a new post simply add your email address in the box at the top right and click "submit."