Forest City Courier, Aug. 22, 1940
In the Saturday Evening Post for August 3 there is a most interesting article entitled, “Cape Stormy,” which is worth your time to read. It is beautifully illustrated with colored photographs and gives in detail the highlights about the lives and habits of the people living in this remote spot. Anywhere you drive you go on the sands of the beach, and you have to be highly skillful to do that, aside from deflating your tires to fifteen pounds.
Off the coast of North Carolina and extending toward Virginia is a long barrier reef several miles at sea called the Outer Banks. Surely this section must be an evitable utopia. No license is required for an automobile and there are neither peace officers nor jails. When the inhabitants have need of the services of either they appeal to the mainland. Time means very little here and you would have a hard time finding a clock on the islands. You might find a man or a woman who could tell you the day of the month, but more than likely not. It is said that the only clock in the Pamlico Inn at Ocracoke is the one by which the cook boils the eggs. If you remember your geography days you can locate stormy Cape Hatteras. This and Ocracoke are the main islands in the chain. Most of the inhabitants are descendants of shipwrecked sailors or deserters from pirate ships. It is quite interesting to know how the settlement of Nags Head got its name.
Incidentally, Nags Head is now a popular beach resort. Back as far as 1820, shore dwellers often made a business of enticing wrecks and salvaging the ships. The dwellers had a custom of hanging lanterns about the necks of the grazing ponies on the island, and as the lanterns bobbed, mariners mistook them for lights on other vessels and figured that they too might venture nearer the coast, resulting in being wrecked on the shoals, as of course, was intended by the islanders. Hatteras lighthouse, tallest brick lighthouse ever built anywhere, has been dark since 1936, but still stands and is open to visitors. Built in 1870 more than a mile inland, but in 1936 I the sea had come within a hundred feet of its base and it was feared it might collapse. A new tower has been built two miles inland. There is another and older lighthouse at Ocracoke built in 1798. Instead of whale oil originally burned, electricity has taken its place. The chief industry is fishing, also crabbing and clamming and these are governed by the tides, the tides in turn being moved by the moon. Therefore the moon is an outstanding factor in the folklore of these people. There are other interesting points in this locality such as Kitty-Hawk, where the Wright brothers flew the first plane, and most important is Roanoke Island where the first English colony in America was lost and Manteo, the setting of the beautiful pageant shown each year. Another interesting fact is that the islanders are all Methodists and are very devout. On one of the tombstones, incidentally one of the world’s more remarkable ones, are the dates, born Sept. 10th, 1855, died Sept. 14th, 1842, which, if you believe the stone, makes it appear that the person died thirteen years before he was born. The stone cutter made a mistake in the engraving.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Courier. Copyright owned by The Daily Courier.