Things You Will or Won’t Find on Ocracoke

On a recent ferry ride back home to Ocracoke after a trip “up the beach” to Nags Head, my daughter Amy, our friend Jenifer Kidwell, Lachlan, and I were relaxing and catching up on some reading. Jen was reading Carl Goerch’s 1956 book, Ocracoke. In one chapter Goerch lists twenty-eight things “you won’t find on Ocracoke.” Here is the list:

  • Policeman
  • Traffic light
  • Elevator
  • Pool hall
  • Brick building
  • Chain store
  • Hospital
  • Parking meters
  • Golf course
  • Lawyer
  • Doctor
  • Furniture Store
  • Drug Store
  • Printer
  • Florist
  • Billboard
  • Sidewalk
  • Bakery
  • Bank
  • Beer parlor
  • Jail
  • Book store
  • Bowling alley
  • Dancing school
  • Dentist
  • Diaper Service
  • Funeral home
  • Hardware store

After reading the list out loud we decided to identify things from that list that we now have on Ocracoke. They are:

  • Policeman (deputy sheriffs)
  • Elevator (there is an elevator in the Anchorage Inn, and a few in private homes)
  • Brick building (the Bluff Shoal Motel and Captain’s Cargo [the former post office] were the first brick buildings on the island)
  • Lawyer (I believe there is only one practicing resident lawyer on the island)
  • Doctor (and a Health Clinic)
  • Sidewalk (that narrow concrete pavement along Irvin Garrish Highway around the harbor)
  • Bank
  • Beer parlor (several, to be sure!)
  • Jail (used mostly for folks who have spent too much time in the beer parlors!)
  • Book store (thanks to Leslie Lanier at Books to be Red)
  • Hardware Store (this business is a franchise of True Value located in the Variety Store; the gas station is a franchise of Exxon; and Kitty Hawk Kites is a local area franchise…so one might argue that we have one or more “chain stores,” but I don’t think this is what Goerch meant by “chain store.”

Then we did some brain-storming and came up with a list of things Ocacoke has had in the past (any time from the 1700s until recently) but that we no longer have. Here is that list (in no particular order):

  • Movie theaters (one, the “Ocean Wave” built in 1914 near the present-day Harborside Gift Shop; and another in the Wahab Village Hotel [now Blackbeard’s Lodge] in the 1940s through the early 1960s)
  • Roller Skating Rink (also located in the Wahab Village Hotel)
  • Appliance Store (near the Harborside Motel, run by Sid Tolson in the 1950s)
  • Ice Plant (located where Kitty Hawk Kites is today)
  • US Coast Guard Station (we still have a Coast Guard presence, but no active station)
  • Saturday night square dances (nowadays only held on special occasions)
  • Mounted Boy Scout troop
  • Furniture store (one of the original businesses located in the Variety Store building)
  • Barber Shops (although today we have a hair salon, formerly there were “barber shops” with real barber poles; one was located at the Community Store, another “down point” on Loop Road
  • Dive shop (located in Oyster Creek development)
  • Clam canning factory (Doxee’s, ca. 1897-ca. 1912, on the SW shore of Silver Lake harbor)
  • Victorian Hotel (the Ponder Hotel, 1885-1900, located where the NCCAT [former USCG Station] building is now)
  • Railway (a length of track from the Ponder (or Ponzer) hotel to the beach, laid to accommodate a horse-drawn tram)
  • Florist (at one time we had two!)
  • Bakery
  • Laundromat
  • Pony Penning (a July 4th tradition for many years)
  • Year-around passenger ferry (various mailboats, including the Aleta and the Dolphin), although a high-speed passenger ferry now operates from Hatteras during the summer season.
  • Artists Colony (see https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracokes-artists-colony/)
  • Free-ranging cows, sheep, and goats
  • Residents who have never been off the island
  • Wind mills (in the mid- to late-1800s there were at least four windmills on the island)
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