Saturday, March 16, 2024

Old Quawk's Day

More than 200 years ago there lived on Ocracoke Island a fisherman of indeterminate provenance. He was a reclusive figure, preferring to live in a small hut made of driftwood and bullrushes about 5-6 miles from the village. No one remembers his given name, but folks called him "Old Quawk" because, they said, he "quawked" like an old night heron.

Old Quawk was a fisherman, often venturing out into Pamlico Sound in his sail skiff when cautious islanders stayed in port waiting for more propitious weather.

On this date, March 16, many years past, Old Quawk made his last voyage into Pamlico Sound. Storm clouds were piling up in the darkening sky. 


Legend has it that Old Quawk defiantly disregarded the warnings of other islanders, raised his clenched fist to the heavens and dared the gods to thwart him, then set out in his sail skiff. A frightful gale churned the Sound into a wild turbulence and swamped Old Quawk's tiny craft. Neither Old Quawk nor his boat were ever found.

For many years Ocracoke fishermen refused to go out in their boats on March 16. Even today, regardless of the forecast, it's best to be prudent on Old Quawk's Day. There's no telling what the weather gods will dish out on March 16. 

Friday, March 08, 2024

Five Harmaniacs

Walter and Edgar Howard were talented Ocracoke musicians and vaudeville performers who made names for themselves in New York City and other metropolitan areas during the 1920s. Edgar is buried in the Howard Street cemeteries across from Village Craftsmen. His marker has a banjo and the epitaph, "You ain't heard nothing yet!"

 You can read about Walter and Edgar's remarkable career here:

Friday, January 19, 2024

Cast in Bronze

Many of our readers have walked the trail to Springer's Point. Sam Jones, who died in 1977, is buried (next to his horse) across the path from the old brick cistern. Sam was a colorful character who had a significant impact on Ocracoke in the 1950s - 1970s. He built several prominent cedar-shake buildings on the island (Berkley Castle & Berkley Manor, among them), and he owned Berkley Machine Works in Norfolk, Va. Sam sometimes had his own sayings cast in bronze. This is one of them:






Sam also had his “Landlord’s Invitation” cast in bronze, and had it displayed prominently at the top center of his stationery: 

“Here’s to Pa’ nds PenDas’ OCI alh OURin ha! RMLes, Smirt ha ND Fun le TFRIE nd’s HIPRE ign B eju ST an DKIN –dan Devils PEAK of N’ one.”

Can you decipher the saying?

You can read more about Sam Jones here:

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Howard's Pub Cabaret, 1981

Howard's Pub opened for business in April 1979. For the first time in more than half a century Ocracoke islanders and visitors could order a cold beer in a local restaurant. During the next two years there were some rough and rowdy nights, especially when a dozen or more shrimp boats sought safe harbor during foul weather.

Owner Ron Howard decided the Pub needed a makeover for the 1981 season.

Ron re-branded his establishment as the “All New Howard’s Pub” with live music, happy hour from 2-7, and a cabaret scheduled for the summer months at 10:30 p.m.. Cynthia Mitchell directed the cabaret which opened with “Old Blue Eyes is Back,” a show about Frank Sinatra’s life and songs. Other shows included “Summertime” and “Pass the Popcorn,” with favorite songs from movies. Bronwyn Shook, from upstate New York was the accompanist. Hors d’oeuvres, including cracked crab claws, clams casino, and oysters Rockefeller, were served.











The flyer above reads, "Summertime Cabaret at Howard's Pub. A new form of entertainment on Ocraccoke, the Cabaret features an hour of sparkling musical variety with tidbits of lively dialogue. The newly re-modeled Howard's Pub provides a special late night menu with just the right ingredients for a champagne Summer Evening! Showtime is 10:30 every Tuesday through Saturday until August 29th."

You can read more about Howard's Pub here: