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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

No. 124 Thomas Rose "I want everybody here to listen to what I am about to say!"

Thomas Rose (b. 1887), called just Tom by almost everyone, was a legend in his own time, and has remained one ever since. He was faithful and strong, sired a large family, and his children and many of their children have been musical prodigies. "That's the Rose in 'em coming out" is an expression still heard on the Island when we listen to one of his progeny play or sing the hymns of their evangelical faith.

Lewises Creek, now part of the the Cedar Island bird sanctuary 

But in his own day, Tom Rose was one of the many watermen who worked in the ocean and the sounds to forge a living for his family. So it was that late one year, just a few days before Christmas, he and his crew were in Pamlico Sound just to the east and ocean side of Ocracoke Island. They were trawling for flounder with more than a dozen other Harkers Island fishing crews. They hoped to make enough money to buy Christmas gifts for their families, and most of them, including Tom, had been successful. So, late on Friday evening they pulled in their trawls, boards, ropes and tickler chains, and headed south and back home to Harkers Island.

Because the fishing had been so good they had lingered longer than planned in Pamlico Sound and as they left the sun was already going down. That made it even harder than usual to navigate the shoals and channels of Core Sound for the thirty-mile stretch that would take them home. Thus they decided as a group to put up for the evening in Lewises Creek, just at the end of Cedar Island for the evening and then to make their way homeward early the next morning. By late evening as many as twenty boats were moored close together in the creek, so close that they could talk to each other without shouting as they secured their boats and wares for a long night as winter approached.

Early the next morning, before most of the others were even up and getting ready to set out for home, all of them heard the bellowing voice of Tom Rose as he stood on the bow of his boat, named after his youngest daughter, and lifted the anchor.

"I want everybody here to listen to what I am about to say. The 'Norma Lee' will never again drop anchor in Lewises Creek, or anywhere else that you have to beat off mosquitoes in the middle of December!"

With that he started his engine and headed south and towards home. As far as anyone can recall, he never did spend another evening or night at Cedar Island.