Friday, July 31, 2015

Ponies

Illustrating one theory of how wild ponies arrived on Ocracoke, Jean Day, in her 1997 book, Banker Ponies, writes, "After the winds lessened, the twenty foot waves gentled into ripples on the aqua green sea. The storm was over. Flotsam from the Spanish galleon bobbed to the surface, almost striking a dark object which appeared to be alive. As it came closer to shore, it was obvious it wasn't a man, it was a horse, a small one, but definitely a horse. Breakers washed the animal towards shore until he recovered sufficiently to swim."

No doubt at least some of the island's wild horses arrived as victims of shipwrecks. Perhaps others were abandoned on the Outer Banks by the earliest explorers. The first European owners of Ocracoke, especially Richard Sanderson, used the island as grazing land for livestock (no fences were required). Early residents, William Howard and John Williams, brought more horses.

By the 19th century as many as three hundred wild ponies roamed the island. The annual July 4th pony penning was a major event in the early 20th century. Today, the National Park Service cares for a remnant herd of "wild" ponies in a large corral about 7 miles north of Ocracoke Village. You can read more here.

NPS Image













The Park Service also sponsors an Adopt-A-Pony program that is a popular way for folks to support the care and maintenance of out island's most popular residents.

Be sure to stop at the Pony Pen and pay a visit to some of the last descendants of Ocracoke's wild horses.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bare Feet

Summertime on Ocracoke always means bare feet. In the 1940s & early 1950s most of the island roads were unpaved, and numerous sandy footpaths meandered throughout the village. I hardly ever wore shoes. Of course, nearly everyone then and now goes barefooted on the beach. 














My grandson Lachlan continues in that tradition. Earlier this month we took him to summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina. We pulled up in the grassy parking lot, and Lachlan slithered out through the open rear window. Almost as soon as his bare feet hit the grass a councilor gently reminded him that their rules required campers to wear shoes.

Lachlan is back on the island now, after two weeks of rock climbing, canoeing, and outdoor activities in the mountains. And his shoes are back on the porch, waiting for him when he gets ready to leave the island again.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Movie Theater

In his 2004 book, Off Season, Ken McAlpine relates the following conversation he had with an islander during intermission at a local variety show:

"Is there a movie theater in town," I had asked.

"No, there isn't," she had said with a smile.

"Is there a substitute for a movie theater?" I asked.

She had looked at me puzzled. " I would say that movies are substitutes for this," she said.

Eleven years later there is still no movie theater on Ocracoke...and live music, storytelling, plays, and other entertainments continue to satisfy visitors and residents alike.

In addition to music at various restaurants and pubs, Ocracoke currently offers the following: The three-act musical, A Tale of Blackbeard, on Monday evenings, "Coyote plus One" (Marcy, Lou, & a guest) on Tuesdays, Ocracoke Opry on Wednesdays, and Ghost & History Walks on Tuesdays & Fridays. In addition you can take in talks aboard the Skipjack Wilma Lee (island history, pirate lore, & stories of oyster dredging) on Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays at 11 am), and Porch Talks & Museum Tours at Ocracoke Preservation Society (1 pm, Monday - Friday).

Be sure to check posters around the village for the most accurate and up-to-date information about these and many other events in the village.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Outdoor Classroom

Island resident, Elizabeth Hanrahan, along with the Ocracoke Foundation is again offering free summer programs for children (and parents) in grades 3 -7. Topics include
  1. How to read a NC Beach,
  2. Wetland Metaphors,
  3. Estuaries: where the rivers meet the sea,
  4. The Incredible Journey (a water cycle game).
The 90 minute programs begin at 10 am, and are held at the former Coast Guard Station, now the campus of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). More information is available here: http://www.ocracokefoundation.org/outdoor-classroom-2015-programs/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ocracoke to Unalakleet

Many of our readers know Dale Mutro, native islander, occasional employee at Village Craftsmen, Ocracoke postal worker, and teller of humorous, often outrageous, island tales.















Dale, a descendant of the earliest island residents, has lived on Ocracoke his entire life. On August 4 Dale departs for a two year adventure as postmaster in Unalakleet, a small Alaskan village with a population of under 700 native Inupiat. He begins his new post on August 10. Unalakleet is located on the Norton Sound of the Bering Sea, 148 miles southeast of Nome and 395 miles northwest of Anchorage.

With his quirky, funny and exuberant demeanor, Dale has often been described as "one of a kind." We wish Dale well on this new venture, but everyone who knows him is sure that the Inupiat don't have a clue about what they are in for!

We hope Dale will keep us informed of his discoveries and adventures. And we hope to see him back home after two years. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Della

Last week Lou Ann interviewed Della Gaskill for an Ocracoke Preservation Society "Porch Talk." Della operates a small gift shop on her property next to the Assembly of God Church. She was born on Ocracoke in 1937, and she has many stories to tell about "Growing up on Ocracoke Island" (that's the subtitle of her memoir, A Blessed Life).

Della's book is full of fascinating local lore, island history, first-hand stories, and vintage photos. Chapter titles include "Hotcakes, Turtle Stew and Other Recipes for Love," "World War II Comes to Ocracoke," "The Storm of '44 and Other Storms at Ocracoke," "School Days," "The Ocracoke Ponies," "Figs, Figs and More Figs," and much more.



















Look for Della at her shop on Lighthouse Road, and take home a copy of her book for a glimpse into island life more than a half century ago. A Blessed Life is available from Della, at Village Craftsmen, and at other island businesses.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Capt. Joe & His False Teeth

Capt. Joseph Merritt Burrus was the last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper to serve as an employee of the United States Lighthouse Service (Clyde Farrow served next, after care of the lighthouse passed to the US Coast Guard). Capt. Joe retired in 1946, after 45 years of service. He died in 1951.

Capt. Joe Burrus



















Capt. Joe had a playful spirit, and islanders loved to tell the following story about him.

It seems that Joe's wife, Miss El, chanced to look out her back doorway, when she noticed her husband walking through the yard dragging something behind him attached to a string. She wondered what he was up to when she realized that he was turning the corner into the side yard. She walked into the parlor and opened the front door. Here came Joe dragging that object behind him. Next thing Miss El knew her husband was again in the back yard. When he rounded the corner into the front yard once more Miss El called out to him. "What in the devil are you up to, Joe, traipsing around the yard hauling that old piece of string behind you? The neighbors will think you've gone off your rocker."

 "El," Captain Joe, replied, "I've lost my chewin' tobaccy. So I've decided to tie my false teeth to this here string and drag them through the yard. If that tobaccy is anywhere in the vicinity, these teeth will latch onto it, sure as my name is Joe Burrus."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062115.htm.