Summer greetings from Ocracoke!
As usual, the island community came together for a creative, whacky, fun-filled July 4th celebration last month. The highlight of the day for me is always the traditional Independence Day parade. Begun in the 1950’s (after the Navy and the state of North Carolina had paved enough of the roads to make a parade possible), the modern day version is every bit as funky as the original parades.
Every entry is conceived and executed by local residents or visitors using whatever material is at hand — boats, tree limbs, canvas, paint, what-have-you. This year the parade had more entrants than ever, and the streets were lined with people all the way from Captain Ben’s Restaurant, past the Island Inn, where the judges sat, to the Preservation Society Museum, where awards were handed out.
This July Kathy Scarborough and friends topped the awards with their version of Amtrak’s rail service to Ocracoke Island. Their silver “Viewliner” train, dining car, and towed boat sported an authentic whistle, clouds of white smoke, and a cadre of excited passengers waving and dancing to lively island music. Numerous Amtrak brochures were on hand for distribution along the way. You can read more about Amtrak’s brochure in our April 1, 2002 newsletter.
Best of Parade, Amtrak’s Viewliner Train:
For this year’s parade, Village Craftsmen joined forces with Natural Selections Hemp Shop to celebrate one of our local island legends. You can read about “Old Quawk” in an earlier newsletter. In the photo below, you can see me dressed as Old Quawk, in a sinking skiff, raising my fist to heaven as a lightening bolt strikes my boat from a menacing storm cloud. We won second prize in our category, outflanked only by 7-year-old Emmett Temple riding his bicycle and being chased by a fierce Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Old Quawk inveighs against the gods:
Other entries were colorful and creative.
Fat Boys Fish Company tows their skiff in the parade:
Day Care children portray the newly discovered Civil War Fort on Beacon Island:
This season saw the introduction of two new books about Ocracoke. The Ocracoke Walking Tour & Ocracoke Island Guide is a delightful addition to any collection of Ocracoke books. With vintage and contemporary photographs to complement the superb writing, it will guide you on an entertaining and informative tour through the village historic district. From this one publication you can capture much of the flavor of island life from years past.
Ocracoke Walking Tour:
I would be less than forthcoming if I neglected to mention that one of the reasons I am so taken with this book is the photograph on page 22.
Photo from Ocracoke Walking Tour:
On the left is my great uncle, Stanley O’Neal. On the right is my father. Of course that is “your’s truly” sitting between them, on the porch of uncle Stanley’s home on Howard Street, in the early 1950’s.
Another interesting book published this year is Paul Mosher’s Pieces of Eight and Ocracoke. Written in a conversational style, almost as if the author is sitting on the porch sharing his many years of experience with you, this book includes a general history of coins as they relate to Ocracoke island, and specifically the story of the 1783 Spanish dollar that Paul found on the island when he was a child.
Pieces of Eight & Ocracoke Island:
A Spanish Coin from 1776:
Of course, rare coins are not common on Ocracoke. However, it is not unheard of for someone to find a valuable coin in the village or on the beach. Reports surface periodically of old coins washing up on the ocean side, and as recently as 1996 a neighbor spotted a 150-year-old coin in Howard Street after routine road grading.
1850 One Cent Piece found on Howard Street:
And, of course, Paul Mosher found his piece of eight on the sound side of the village in the shallow water.
On your next visit to the island keep your eyes open. You might be the next lucky person who stumbles across a long-lost part of some forgotten treasure that belonged to Blackbeard himself!
All the best to you,
Philip and the entire staff at Village Craftsmen