Friday, January 23, 2015

Flying

Eliza Ella ("Miss Lizerella") Styron O'Neal (1890-1953) was the daughter of Elijah Styron, Sr. and Elizabeth Gaskins Styron. The Styrons are an old island family (I mentioned them last year because they were one of the last Ocracoke families to continue celebrating Old Christmas). Two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren live on the island to this day.
Photo Courtesy of Johnny O'Neal


















Miss Eliza Ella's great-grand-nephew told me she had never driven in an automobile. In fact, she never left the island in her entire life (except to venture a mile or so out into Pamlico Sound in a small boat). Carl Goerch relates his visit and conversation with Miss Eliza Ella ("Never Been Off the Island") in his 1956 book, Ocracoke. Goerch describes Miss Eliza Ella as "friendly and vivacious."

Cousin Blanche agreed, and recently shared a story that illustrates Miss Styron's wonderful sense of humor. In the 1920s, when airplanes were still a novelty, and barnstorming pilots occasionally flew out to Ocracoke, local talk turned to speculation about this new and exotic mode of transportation.

Some folks were ready to hop into the cockpit of a plane to see the island from the air. Others were dead set against such foolhardy behavior, and vowed to never, ever, get into an airplane.

Miss Eliza Ella had her own unique perspective, and addressed the assembled neighbors. "I don't care high up I go," she said, "as long as I can keep one foot on the ground!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Photo Gallery

Julie Williams Dixon, writer, photographer, storyteller, and observer of life, has published a gallery of Ocracoke and Portsmouth photos. The composite below is of my outbuilding (Mad Mag's Studio) and a window in Plymoth, NC. 

















 To view Julie's gallery, and see an older photo of my building, click on this link:             http://juliewilliamsdixon.com/?page_id=402. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ocracoke Oyster Wars

We have published our latest Ocracoke Newsletter.















This month's story is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Coral Spawning

My son and his family gave me a fascinating book as a Christmas present: Deep by James Nestor.  Deep is about "Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves."

I wasn't so sure I would find the book to my liking. I have absolutely no interest in freediving (underwater diving without any breathing apparatus such as scuba equipment), especially (and I repeat, especially) extreme freediving.  In June 2012, Herbert Nitsch, World Record Holder Freediver, dove to a depth of 253.2 meters (831 feet) on one breath of air! 831 feet is the height of a 100 story building!

However, because I live on an island in the Atlantic, I was intrigued by various facts about the ocean that I learned from the book. 

For example, Nestor writes that "Every year on the same day, at the same hour, usually within the same minute, corals of the same species, although separated by thousands of miles, will suddenly spawn in perfect synchronicity. The dates and times vary from year to year for reasons that only the coral knows."

Coral Found on Ocracoke Beach















With a little research on the Internet I discovered this beautiful 2 1/2 minute video of coral spawning in the Gulf of Mexico: http://www.oceanfutures.org/learning/kids-cove/creature-feature/coral-spawning. Another wonder of Nature!

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bunny & Iggy

Two native islanders died early this month. Bernice (Bunny) Gaskins, 90, died at her home on Loop Road on New Years Day. Bunny was the daughter of the late Irving and Alma Bragg Forbes and the widow of John Gaskins. You can read her obituary on the Ocracoke Current: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/10382.

On January 2, Rhodes Ignatius (Iggy) Styron died. He was quite a colorful character. You can read his obituary here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/104729.

Born in 1944, Iggy used to spend hours on the Community Store porch, drinking Coca Colas, eating snacks, and greeting friends and visitors. As you might imagine, he often offered a unique perspective on life.

Photo by Lou Ann Homan



















Ignatius had a penchant for unusual attire -- sleeveless t-shirts; sunglasses; silver bracelets, earrings and rings; a soul patch; and spiked hair. His hair was often colored (he chose red, white, and blue for July 4th). Lou Ann and I frequently biked down to the store just to spend time with Iggy. He didn't say much, but even in his most taciturn moments, he was a pleasure to chat with.

In recent years Iggy gave up on his more outlandish appearance, and we only saw him occasionally when he drove his golf cart to the NPS docks to watch boats coming and going in the harbor.

Our most memorable visit with Iggy occurred at the Community Store. A gentleman whom I did not recognize stepped up to the porch, gazed right and left, and just stood there for a time without saying anything. Finally he addressed Iggy with a few words, then turned and walked away.

I asked Iggy if he knew the man.

"Yes," Iggy replied, "he comes to the island several times a year. He's really weird."

Farewell Bunny & Iggy! Island life is always impoverished when those of our own depart.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Marty Harris

About 25 years ago a young man from Statesville, NC wandered onto Ocracoke Island, and like so many others, remained here for a while. He secured housing, found work, and stayed long enough to befriend a number of locals.

Unlike most, he arrived on foot. Marty Harris had walked across North Carolina carrying about 75 pounds of equipment (including clothes, a sleeping bag, a small tent, and his camera). Along the way Marty documented his trek with photographs. It was always his goal to publish a book of his pictures.

Finally, after a quarter of a century, that book is a reality.
What The Road Passes By: A Photographic Collection of People and Places in North Carolina was published August 15, 2014. The photographs are stunning, and capture the essence of people and places from the mountains to the coast of the Tarheel state.

An article was recently published about Marty and his book in his hometown paper. You can read it here:
http://www.statesville.com/community/column-catching-up-with-photographer-marty-harris-questions/article_b0eb3be4-9757-11e4-9ed7-3b5fb62044fa.html.

What the Road Passes By is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. If you love North Carolina, you might want to get one for yourself or for friends.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Community Square Revitalization

The Ocracoke Foundation continues to support our community by initiating and implementing projects that focus on environmental stewardship, responsible economic development, and education.

One of the Foundation's major current projects is the Revitalization of the Community Square.

Willis' Store, ca. 1930 (Now Working Watermen's Exhibit)
Earl O'Neal Collection















Immediate interest is directed at the following areas:
  • Dock Repair and Expansion, 
  • Shoreline Restoration, 
  • Wastewater Improvements, 
  • Environmental Enhancements, 
  • Conservation Easements, and 
  • Establishment of a Community Fund
More information about Community Store Project Planning is available here:

The Ocracoke Foundation continues to work hard to protect and preserve vital aspects of the island's traditional culture. Donations to further their work are always appreciated. Follow this link to make a charitable contribution: http://www.ocracokefoundation.org/donate/.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.