Hello again from Ocracoke Island!
Sunday was “Customer Appreciation Day” at the Community Store. Ricky and Gaynelle Tillett staged a big sale, free hot dogs and drinks at noon, and a prize drawing at 4 o’clock.
The store was busy all day long. In addition to the opportunity to save some money on groceries it was a good time to visit with neighbors, friends and family. The day was warm so folks gathered on the porch and in the parking lot to chat and laugh and tell stories.
The parking lot was full of cars and bicycles. But the hustle and bustle was not so much like a summer day of recent years as like mail time from several decades ago.
Back in the first half of the twentieth century, for instance, the mailboat (first the “Aleta” and later the “Dolphin”) ran from the mainland of North Carolina to Ocracoke once a day. In addition to mail the boat carried other goods as well as a few passengers. I was young in the late 1940’s, but I remember well the anticipation and the excitement of loading all of our luggage onto the boat for the 4 hour trip across Pamlico sound.
This was before most paved roads on Ocracoke and before the first ferries ran across Hatteras Inlet. The mailboat was Ocracoke’s link to the rest of the world.
One of my most vivid memories is when the Aleta ran aground on a shoal. I was too young to help but all of the men jumped overboard and pushed the boat out into deeper water.
When we arrived at the mail dock it seemed like the whole village was there to greet us. The excitement was palpable as my grandparents and aunts and uncles offered hugs and greetings and helped us carry our bags to their homes down the sandy lanes. (I had abandoned my socks and shoes when we boarded the boat!) Before we departed from the Post Office, however, we visited with everyone who had gathered to welcome us back. Stories were shared, as was news of relatives and friends. Laughter and smiles filled the air. It was so good to be home!
The villagers, of course, had also come to retrieve their mail. After the mail bags had been carried down the dock and deposited on the floor inside the Post Office Mr. Tommy and his assistants sorted and posted the letters and packages (many of them from Sears & Roebucks, and other mail order houses). When they were finished the mail was “called over” (a term still in use today by the older residents).
So the gathering at the Community Store, though an annual event, is reminiscent of the daily arrival of the mail boat years ago. The island sense of community lives on in this and other opportunities to enjoy each other’s company.
As usual, especially during the winter months, dolphins have been frequent visitors near the beach. On some days it is virtually impossible to not see these wonderful creatures. On one recent beach walk there never was a period longer than a half of a minute when at least one dolphin was not visible. At times there were large groups swimming, jumping and cavorting. What a show! Of course there are days when none are to be seen. On stormy days, or during periods of big swells they either stay farther off-shore or it becomes impossible to see them. Nevertheless I always look and am often rewarded.
On your next visit to the island please stop by Village Craftsmen and say hello. We are adding a number of new items to the shop this Spring, including wonderfully detailed ship models (click on the photos below to see two examples).
We have also added a new line of pins (Menopause Pins!):
Click on the photo above to see more of these.
Folk Festival & Arts Fair:
For those of you planning a visit to the island in June please keep the following in mind. On Saturday, June 9 Ocracoke will host the ninth annual Howard Street Arts & Crafts Fair in combination with the second annual Ocrafolk Festival of Story & Song.
As in years past, parts of Howard Street (and the School Road also this year) will be the scene of a number of artisans displaying and selling jewelry, wooden items, pottery and other crafts. Food will also be available. In addition, two stages will be set up for musicians and storytellers. We hope to see you there.
Complete information is available at the Ocrafolk and Howard Street Festivals Web Site. Please check back often as the site will be updated as new craftspeople and musicians are added.
We hope you are having a rewarding and enjoyable winter. We look forward to seeing you on your next visit to Ocracoke. Until then, take care, be well, and celebrate life.
Philip and the entire staff of Village Craftsmen