Friday, July 01, 2016

The Revolutionary War

Years ago I discovered an old magazine. The cover and other identifying information was gone, but it contained this paragraph:

"Less well known, perhaps, than the area's fishing appeal, is the fact that Ocracoke Inlet was vital to the armies of General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Ocracoke Inlet seemed to the British to be too small and insignificant to require a blockade. The shoals were dangerous, and skillful pilots were needed to navigate the waters with safety. Ocracoke, through the help of the area's loyal patriots, became a great channel of supply for American troops."

As the authors of The Story of Ocracoke Island write, "The part played by Occacock Inlet in the Revolutionary War was vital indeed to the armies of General Washington."

http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/islandbooks.htm#SO

















The Story of Ocracoke Island includes six paragraphs about Ocracoke and the Revolutionary War, as well as 64 pages of island history, stories, and photos. It is a perfect introduction to island history.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm.   

Thursday, June 30, 2016

July 4th Celebration

For the first time since the deadly explosion of 2009 Ocracoke Village will again host an Independence Day fireworks display. It will begin at 9:15 pm on Saturday, July 3.

Full Independence Day Schedule:


















Click on the image above (follow directions on the right to view a larger image) for more information about fireworks, storytelling, music, square dance, sand sculpture contest, sky diving demonstration, beach fire, parade, and more.

If you are planning to be on the island for the Celebration, please take note of the following:
  • The NPS parking lot and boat ramp will close at 5pm on Saturday, July 2nd. The parking lot should re-open on Monday, July 4th. Bill Gilbert has offered to let boaters use the boat ramp at the Anchorage Inn while the parking lot is closed. Please contact the Anchorage Marina at 928-6661.
  • Highway 12 will close at 7pm on Sunday July 3rd, starting at the corner of Hwy. 12 and British Cemetery Road. Only ferry traffic and resident/renter traffic will be allowed through. The last ferry leaves for Cedar Island at 9pm. The fireworks will start at 9:15-ish after that ferry has left. (Travel tip: if you or someone you know has to leave on the 3rd, recommend that ferry departure. They will have a great view of the fireworks!)
  • Tommy Hutcherson will be playing tunes at the NPS docks next to the ferries starting at 8pm, July 3rd. Bring a chair or blanket and claim a space on the docks or grassy area for the best view of the fireworks. 
  • The Community Center parking lot will be available for visitors after 7pm on July 3rd. The Community Square parking lot will be available after 8pm. 
  • Please walk, bike, or if you must, use a golf cart. We expect a big crowd.

And, if you haven't already done so, take at look at this month's Ocracoke Newsletter. It is an article about the 1953 July 4th Parade, and it is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Days of Sail

The 19th century was the Great Age of Sail, and the Outer Banks played a major role in maritime traffic of the era. According to a History of Portsmouth Village (https://www.nps.gov/calo/planyourvisit/upload/Portsmouth2007.pdf) "in 1842, over 1,400 vessels and two-thirds of the exports of the state passed through Ocracoke Inlet."

Charles T. Williams, II (born prior to the turn of the twentieth century), in this book, The Kinnakeeter, describes the Kinnakeet Atlantic Anchorage Basin, just north of Cape Hatteras as "a peaceful and restless anchorage for the sailing ships of all nations." He writes, "I remember when I was a boy the wind during one summer blew from the southwest forty days, and during that forty days two- or three-hundred sailing vessels, barks, barkentines, fully rigged square-riggers, two-, three-, and four-masted shooners of all description were anchored in the Kinnakeet Anchorage Basin.

Sketch by Philip Howard



















"People that never saw the anchorage filled with ships can only have an artist's conception of what it looked like. During the night a brisk shift of wind to the northwest [blew up], and in the early morning the ships, with all sails spread, sailing in a southeast direction, were a beauty to stir one's memory forever."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Snake

I am always delighted to see wildlife finding ways to survive in the midst of human development. Not long ago I encountered this reptile lying placidly in my driveway. I think this is a Carolina Water Snake, a subspecies of the nonvenomous Northern Water Snake.


















I stopped to look and take this photo. The snake lay still and quiet for several minutes, just looking at me. Then it slithered away and disappeared under a pile of leaves and branches.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm

Monday, June 27, 2016

Helicopter

As most of our readers know, Ocracoke does not have a hospital. However, we do have a small clinic, a dedicated resident doctor, and well-trained professional EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians).

In cases of serious accident or illness, medical helicopters from Greenville, NC, or Norfolk, VA, can transport patients to a hospital. The United States Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City, NC, also has  a Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter, an all weather, medium-range vehicle specialized for search and recovery.

Several days ago the MH-60 made a non-emergency landing at Ocracoke and I was able to make this photo. 












Ocracokers have always been grateful for the role the Coast Guard has played in the life of this small isolated commutity.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm

Friday, June 24, 2016

Blackbeard: An (Historical/Hysterical) Account

Ocracoke Alive’s Deepwater Theater and Music Hall is the island headquarters for Ocracoke Alive, as well as the home venue for summertime shows for Ocracoke's internationally renowned folk band, Molasses Creek (Thursdays), the Ocrafolk Opry (Wednesdays), and Blackbeard: An (Historical/Hysterical) Account (Mondays).

If you'd like to experience a uniquely Outer Banks thing to do June through September, be in these audiences! Detailed schedules and information about other special events are posted online, at the entrance to the theater and around the village. Show times vary between 7:30 and 8:00 PM, so check the online schedule for details. Ticket prices are around $15 for adults and $5-7 for children, and a weekly pass is available. Credit cards are accepted. Advance reservations recommended through the website or by calling 252-921-0260.



















New this year is "Blackbeard, an Historical/Hysterical Account." The performance is filled with facts about Blackbeard and his demise at Ocracoke in 1718, and at the same time thoroughly entertaining fun for the entire family.

For more information, click here: https://ocracokeobserver.com/2016/06/10/blackbeard-gets-historical-hysterical-send-up/

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Painting the Lighthouse

In addition to a principal "keeper," lighthouses often required first and second assistants. One might wonder why a lighthouse needed so many attendants, but maintaining a lighthouse was a major job.

The keeper was responsible for lighting the lamp at sunset, ensuring that it remained lit throughout the night, and extinguishing it at sunrise. The lamp needed to be filled with fuel daily, and the wick trimmed regularly. The Fresnel lens and lantern room windows had to be cleaned and polished every morning. Keepers were required to shine and polish all of the brass, sweep the floors and stairs, and clean tower windows and sills as needed. They also cleaned, painted, and repaired all of the buildings, including the keeper's dwelling, chimneys, privies, outbuildings, and the tower itself. In addition, keepers were required to maintain all mechanical equipment, weed walkways, paint and maintain the fence, and see that the grounds were presentable. They kept a log book, recorded weather readings, and kept an inventory of all equipment. Keepers were forbidden to leave the light station without permission, and were considered to be on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They even provided visitors with tours of the lighthouse as needed.

And, as Cheryl Shelton-Roberts & Bruce Roberts point out in their book, Lighthouse Families, "One of the biggest jobs in maintaining a lighthouse [was] painting the tower...." In the book John Gaskill (1916-2013), son of Vernon Gaskill (1889-1984), principal keeper of the 170' tall Bodie Island Lighthouse (by comparison, the Ocracoke Lighthouse is 75' tall), relates climbing into a "paintbox" attached to the lighthouse's catwalk by hooks and ropes. The painters worked their way down, scraping and painting (white and black paint mixed with zinc, lead, linseed oil, and turpentine). It "took as much courage as they could muster."

It was not a job for the faint of heart!

Photo by Jarek Tuszynski*














*Jarek Tuszynski / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GDFL [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Common.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm.