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Thursday, July 28, 2016

No. 137 "Hugged by your Heritage" Driving to Shell Point

No. 137 "Hugged by your Heritage" Driving to Shell Point

Looking west from Shell Point early in the morning - Core Sound at your back
There are place names on the Island that everyone knows and remembers as if it were genetically implanted; Academy Field, the Sand Hole, Red Hill, and the Bay among them, and each one because the name describes a natural or physical landmark. None of these is more a part of the community consciousness that the place called "Shell Point." Once there and looking to the south there is an unobstructed view of both where the Cape Lookout lighthouse still is, and where Diamond City use to be. It is the easternmost point on the Island and where it gives way to Core Sound, then Core Banks, and finally to the broad expanse of the Atlantic Ocean so that the next inhabited land mass anyone can see - if they could see that far - would be on the western coast of Europe near the Strait of Gibraltar.

Where Harkers Island ends - looking southeast towards the Cape
But most Islanders of my youth were never thinking that far away, and few of them thought about anything east of Shell Point itself. It was almost as if it was on that very spot that the world began anew every day, and just going there was a private way to be part of that renewal. So, starting with the first cars that came to the Island in the "Roaring Twenties" there developed a ritual, sometimes a daily one, of driving to Shell Point, turning at the cul-de-sac circle at its end, and heading back where you came from. That was it; just driving or riding to Shell Point. There was something almost therapeutic about the way the rest of the world and its troubles seemed to come into a more reasonable focus once you were there, and especially once you turned your back to face westward with the serenity and seclusion of Shell Point at your back.

If someone was heading out for no apparent reason, so that you felt to ask where they were going, and they responded with a simple, "Shell Point," you came to understand that response with no further explanation needed. Saying "I'm going to Shell Point" meant that you just wanted to retreat for a while and get your bearings - nothing big and nothing to worry about. You just needed to be "hugged by your heritage" for a few moments before whatever it was that came next. I've tried and done it many times. Somehow it always seemed to work back then. Some say it still does.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

No. 136 "Surrounded by our Past"

No. 136 "Surrounded by our Past"

Ella Dee, Ralph, Mama, Tommy and June 


Much more than for my children and grandchildren, mine was a generation that grew up surrounded by our past. There was no real need to have a celebration, a reunion or even a bulletin board of pictures and charts.  We were surrounded by it and by them, our common past and heritage, everywhere and all the time. It stared us in our faces and we could not ignore it, even if we had wanted to. The only way to "get away from it" was to "run away from it" and very few of us wanted to do either.

It was somewhat like the old baseball games for which the results never were reported or recorded - there was no need to because everybody had been at the game when it was played.

Every day we were confronted with expressions like:

Take this to Ole' Pa's house, find him on Aunt Gracie’s porch, or go play games in “Rennie’s field.”

Somebody is broke down there at the end of “Ferry Dock Road.”

He rode his bike all the way to “Shell Point.”

We were swimming on and off of “Danky’s dock,” and played baseball on “Johnson’s cow pasture.”

We walked and played games on the “Old Road” and pulled tin cans in the middle of the “New Road.”

Every time we went to the Landing we looked across to Bell’s Island, Whale Creek Bay, Wades Shore, Sam Windsors Lump, the Horse Pen, or Whitehurst’s Island. Every time we crossed the bridge we noticed the lump of cedar trees on the very edge of what we called Brown’s Island, or stared in the other direction at the vines of Harkers Point.

But it wasn’t just places or things that had names with a story.

Freezing cold weather was "as cold as when the Chrissie Wright came ashore."

A tall man was “longer than Lonzo Lewis.”

A heavy man was “bigger than Bull Hunter.”

Someone else might be smarter than Charlie Nelson, or could oar faster than Luther Willis, or told more lies than “Lying Willie,” or throw a baseball harder than Moe Willis, or play and sing like the Rose crowd, or loved loon more than Loch, or could run faster than Billie Hancock.

And the ultimate question I was asked when it appeared that I was succumbing to the peer pressure that was just as much an issue then as it is now, was this - “If Jonathan [my nephew but was five years older and my most often role model] jumped off the Lighthouse, would that mean you had to jump off the lighthouse?”

Many, if not most of us were called by two names because everyone was named after someone else. You couldn’t just say that something happened or belonged to Mary. You had to be more specific.

Was it Mary Ann, Mary Francis, Mary Catherine, or even Norman’s Mary, Weldon's Mary, Tommy Lewis's Mary, or Iddy's Mary.  There was also Luther's Mary, who when she was married became William's Mary, and who had a son called Mary's Michael. He lived almost next door to Elsie Mae's Johnny William, who was not be confused with Johnny Lane, Johnny Wayne, Johnny Michael, Johnny Manley ' the son of Johnny Boo, or Johnny Vann - the son of Alena's Johnny.

If mama sent me to get something from Ollie, she had to be more specific - was it Big Ollie or Little Ollie?


Everybody and Everything was a part of something else – something bigger than themselves. It was our "past." And to quote William Faulkner, "The past is not dead; it isn't even past."

No. 136 "Surrounded by our Past"

Ella Dee, Ralph, Mama, Tommy and June 

Much more than for my children and grandchildren, mine was a generation that grew up surrounded by our past. There was no real need to have a celebration, a reunion or even a bulletin board of pictures and charts.  We were surrounded by it and by them, our common past and heritage, everywhere and all the time. It stared us in our faces and we could not ignore it, even if we had wanted to. The only way to "get away from it" was to "run away from it" and very few of us wanted to do either.

It was somewhat like the old baseball games for which the results never were reported or recorded - there was no need to because everybody had been at the game when it was played.

Every day we were confronted with expressions like:

Take this to Ole' Pa's house, find him on Aunt Gracies porch, or go play games in Rennies field.
Somebody is broke down there at the end of Ferry Dock Road.
He rode his bike all the way to Shell Point.
We were swimming on and off of Dankys dock, and played baseball on Johnsons cow pasture.
We walked and played games on the Old Road and pulled tin cans in the middle of the New Road.
Every time we went to the Landing we looked across to Bells Island, Whale Creek Bay, Wades Shore, Sam Windsors Lump, the Horse Pen, or Whitehursts Island. Every time we crossed the bridge we noticed the lump of cedar trees on the very edge of what we called Browns Island, or stared in the other direction at the vines of Harkers Point.

But it wasnt just places or things that had names with a story.

A tall man was longer than Lonzo Lewis.
A heavy man was bigger than Bull Hunter.
Someone else might be smarter than Charlie Nelson, or could oar faster than Luther Willis, or told more lies than Lying Willie, or throw a baseball harder than Moe Willis, or play and sing like the Rose crowd, or loved loon more than Loch, or could run faster than Billie Hancock.
And the ultimate question I was asked when it appeared that I was succumbing to the peer pressure that was just as much an issue then as it is now, was this - If Jonathan [my nephew but was five years older and my most often role model] jumped off the Lighthouse, would that mean you had to jump off the lighthouse?

Many, if not most of us were called by two names because everyone was named after someone else. You couldnt just say that something happened or belonged to Mary. You had to be more specific.

Was it Mary Ann, Mary Francis, Mary Catherine, or even Norman’s Mary, Weldon's Mary, Tommy Lewis's Mary, or Iddy's Mary.  There was also Luther's Mary, who when she was married became William's Mary, and who had a son called Mary's Michael. He lived almost next door to Elsie Mae's Johnny William, who was not be confused with Johnny Lane, Johnny Wayne, Johnny Michael, Johnny Manley ' the son of Johnny Boo, or Johnny Vann - the son of Alena's Johnny.

If mama sent me to get something from Ollie, she had to be more specific - was it Big Ollie or Little Ollie?


Everybody and Everything was a part of something else – something bigger than themselves. It was our "past." And to quote William Faulkner, "The past is not dead; it isn't even past."

Monday, May 2, 2016

No. 135 "I just wanna go home!"


No. 135 "I just wanna go home!"

From The Education of an Island Boy Chapter 1 "Ole Pa's Crowd"
 
Billy Hancock on Diamond City
... Ole Pa (my grandfather, Charlie Hancock) later would bring Billy with him when he moved his family off the Banks after the 1899 storm. His youngest son, my father, was born in 1909 and was too young for having any real memories of his grandfather who died in 1914. But his older brother, my uncle Louie, who was seventeen years older than my father, would tell another story about Billy that was not nearly so happy or gleeful as the ones about his whaling and running.

Rather, Louie would describe, sometimes with a choked voice, of how Billy would stand on the south shore of Harkers Island and look longingly across to the Banks to where he had lived all but the last few years of his life. "Ah Lord," he would exclaim over and over as he waved his hands towards what had been the community of Diamond City and the setting for all of his happy memories. 

One time, Louie would tell, after his grandfather had gotten really old and "feeble-minded," Billy started to walk out into the water and towards the Banks. As Charlie and Louie grabbed hold to restrain him, Billy would plaintively explain to his son and grandson that he just wanted to go home one more time!

"He would cuss us," Louie would recall, "and then beg of us as to why we wouldn't let him just go home. That was all he wanted. He would ask us what he had ever done to us so we wouldn't let him go home just one more time?"

By then Diamond City was just a memory, having been all but washed away by the great August storm of 1899. There quite literally was no home for Billy to go to. Though it was less than five miles away across the Sound, and the yellow hue of its sand hills still could be seen on the horizon, Diamond City was, for Billy, as far away as "Old England" had been to his fore bearers three centuries earlier when they landed in Virginia ...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

No. 5 "That Ball was High" (originally published in text format 2/23/2011)

https://youtu.be/r1Tgba5biIE

"That Ball was High - or - The Pitch that Never Was!" In celebration of the start of baseball season, this is an audio-visual presentation of one of my earlier stories. The photos are mostly long-ago images of Harkers Island, Salter Path, of crowds & places, and baseball teams from the mid-20th century. If you enjoy this, please share it with a friend who might do the same.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

No. 134 Coast Guardsmen tell story of the First (1812) Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Coast Guardsmen tell story of the First Cape Lookout Lighthouse
Joel G. Hancock (1988)


Artist's Rendition of the original (1812) Cape Lookout Lighthouse
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse stands against a pale blue backdrop as one of the most lasting and beautiful maritime landmarks of the southeastern coastline. The distinctive diamonds that adorn its facade are visible for miles in either direction. It has become a symbol for an entire region and its image can be found on hundreds of signs, logos, and in assorted advertising efforts. It is as if it has always been there looking out over Lookout Bight and Diamond Shoals. But it hasn't been. It was built just prior to the Civil War, its lamp first lit on November 1, 1859. It replaced a smaller lighthouse that had been built half a century earlier but that had proved woefully ineffective in protecting sailors and ships from the dangers of Lookout shoals.

Cape Lookout's first lighthouse was built in response to an increased maritime traffic up and down the Atlantic coastline following the successful American revolution. It was located some seventy miles to the south of Cape Hatteras and several hundred feet to the north of the present structure. The older and taller Hatteras light historically has attracted more attention, but the Lookout shoreline has proved equally hazardous to wayward sailors. As early as 1590 it was called the Promontorium Tremendum, or "horrible headland" on the White-Derby map of coastal Carolina.

No one alive today can remember the first lighthouse as it was torn down well before the end of the nineteenth century. It had begun operation in 1812 but never quite fulfilled its purpose of serving as a beacon for ocean-going vessels. The story of that first lighthouse, and much, much more, has been recorded in vivid and meticulous detail by two retired Coast Guardsmen, T. Michael O'Brien and Dennis L. Noble. Their manuscript, entitled Soldiers of Surf and Storm, The Light and Lifesavers of Cape Lookout, North Carolina has never been published but is available at the Rangers Office of the Cape Lookout National Seashore at Harkers Island. Their account of the literal "rise and fall" of the ill-fated first Cape Lookout Lighthouse is particularly intriguing as the story is relatively unknown, even among those who are intimately familiar with its more successful replacement. For the benefit of those with an interest in its story, an edited version of their observations and findings about the original Cape Lookout Lighthouse is included.

. . . The land at Cape Lookout was so low that even in the best weather a ship might be on the shoals before the skipper realized his vessel was dangerously close to land. Still it was not until almost fifteen years after the Congress had accepted title to a jurisdiction over lighthouses and other aids to navigation that an attempt was made to establish a light at Cape Lookout. 

On March 26, 1804, Congress authorized erection of a lighthouse "as soon as land sufficient shall be obtained at a reasonable price for the purpose, and the jurisdiction of the land so to be obtained shall have been ceded to the United States by the State of North Carolina, ... on or near the pitch of Cape Lookout."

Congress appropriated $25,000 to be split with a lighthouse at the mouth of the Mississippi River, for construction. Less than nine months later, on December 17, the State of North Carolina ceded "exclusive jurisdiction of four acres lying near the pitch of Cape Lookout in Carteret county" for the lighthouse. Congress, on March 1, 1805, appropriated an additional $20,000 to complete the two lights.

On November 30, 1810, the Secretary of the Treasury instructed the Collectors of Customs at Boston, New York, and Beaufort to advertise for bids for the Cape Lookout light-house in their respective newspapers. Bids were closed on February 15, 1811 and on March 13, a contract was sent to Benjamin Beal, Jr., Duncan Thaxter, and James Stephenson of Boston. No records are available to indicate exactly when the work was completed but, on June 2, 1812, President James Madison appointed James Fulford as keeper. The structure was completed at a cost of $20,678.54 and had one wooden and one brick tower. Congress must have been slow to pay, for it carried varying balances of the sums appropriated for Cape Lookout and the Mississippi River lights every year until 1820.

Robert Miles, in his 1832 work, The American Pharos, provides this description of the then twenty year old Cape Lookout Light:

“This light stands in latitude 34" 36' longitude 76" 36'. It is stationary and elevated 95 feet above the level of the sea. Its situation is on Cape Lookout, and may be seen from 16 to 18 miles at sea. It is painted with red and white stripes around it. As it is approached it resembles a ship under sail ...”

The light, although clearly seen all night until near the approach of day, cannot then be discerned, owing, it is thought, to a mist which arises above the horizon between the vessel and the lamp. It is judged imprudent to approach the shoals of Lookout in the night nearer than ten fathoms on the west side. Vessels passing the shoals in the night ought rather to trust to the lead than the light. These shoals are the most dangerous on the American coast, and vessels cannot be too cautious in approaching them.

The salary of Cape Lookout's first keeper in 1812 had been $300. By 1867 it had been raised to $600. This was "... small compensation for the dedicated hard work required of keepers ..." For many years, the quality of men who manned these important aids to navigation was in a constant state of flux. Several factors accounted for this; low pay, political appointment and lack of proper training and instruction . . .

Prior to 1851 keepers received little, if any, written instructions outlining their duties. In that year a review board required detailed instructions on every facet of a keeper's responsibilities and insisted that the applicants for keeper's positions be able to read and write. In the jet age, where life can become complex and confusing, the image of life at a light station holds some appeal. We tend to visualize the keeper's existence as one of peaceful meditation and contemplation. In reality, it was an existence of loneliness highlighted by monotony. One early keeper remarked, "The trouble with our life is that we have too much time to think."

The principal duty of the keeper was, naturally, to ensure that the light was lighted "punctually at sunset, and ... kept burning at full intensity until sunrise." If alone, the keeper was required to check the light at least each night and to keep a constant watch over it on stormy nights. The keeper stood watch from midnight to sunrise, cleaning the copper and brass fixtures of the apparatus and all utensils in the lantern and watchroom during his tour of duty. This constant attention to polishing brasswork inspired Longfellow to dash off these lines:

Oh, what is the bane of a lightkeeper's life,
That causes him worry and struggle and strife,
That makes him use cuss words and beat up his wife?
It's brasswork.

The lamp in the tower, reflector and shade,
The tools and accessories pass in parade
As a matter of fact the whole outfit is made
Of brasswork.

I dig, scrub and polish, and work with a might.
And just when I get it all shining and bright,
In comes the fog like a thief in the night,
Goodbye brasswork.

And when I have polished until I am cold,
And when I'm taken aloft to the heavenly fold,
Will my harp and my crown be made of pure gold?
No, brasswork! 

Almost from the beginning Cape Lookout was beset with problems. In a July 10, 1817 letter to the Beaufort Collector of Customs, the Commissioner of Revenue complained that "the Cape Lookout Light-house is so badly attended by the Keeper that no reliance can be placed on it, ... it is entrusted to the care of a Negro girl, and . . . more oil has been wasted . . . than was consumed in the lamps."

The material used to construct the light had apparently been inferior for extensive repairs on the structure were needed in 1820 - a mere eight years after its completion. In addition to all its other problems, the lighthouse was plagued by blowing sand. A series of correspondence beginning in 1811 and continuing until 1829 addressed various solutions to the sand problem. Finally, on March 4, 1840, the purchase of an additional 11 acres, 30 poles of land was authorized to protect the lighthouse and keeper's dwelling from the sand encroachment. On May 30, the land was obtained for $75.00 from Charlotte andElijah Pigott, Sr., William, Anson and James Harris, Repsy and Levi Pigott, Mary and Josiah Willis, Sarah and Levi Bell, Abigail and Ambrose Jones, and the Joseph Fulfords..

On July 1851, Lieutenant David D. Potter, U.S.N., commander of the U.S. mail steamer Georgia, responded "with great pleasure, as our light-houses as at present arranged are so wretched that any seafaring man must desire a change." This young Lieutenant, who, during the Civil War would advance from that rank to rear admiral in a mere two years, seems to have dwelt with great relish upon Cape Lookout's deficiencies:

. . . Cape Lookout Light, elevated a hundred feet above the level of the sea, is a most important one. Blunt's Coast Pilot says that it can be seen sixteen or eighteen miles; which is not the case, as I always pass it at night, then and a half miles off, (shaving the outer shoal) and it is only in very clear weather that it can be discerned. Towards morning, particularly, it is difficult to be seen, owing it is thought to the mist which hangs over the land; but I rather attribute it to neglect on the part of the keeper, in not rubbing off the reflectors during the night. Cape lookout shoal runs off S. by E. 1/2 E. ten miles, and a vessel will only clear the end of it in seven fathoms of water. I have found myself two or three times inside the shoal, looking for the light and have been obliged to haul out without seeing it.

Such criticism was corroborated by Lieutenant H. J. Hartstene, U.S.N., commander of the U.S. mail steamer Illinois, who, on July 18, 1851, wrote "the lights on Hatteras, Lookout, Canaveral, and Cape Florida, if not improved, had better be dispensed with, as the navigator is apt to run ashore looking for them."

The effectiveness of the light apparently was not the only problem. According to one report, it had been several years since the tower was painted, and the paint is nearly all off ... The copper to the lantern deck wants repairing ... it is leaky. Many of the shingles are off the tower, and the plastering inside of the dwelling needs repairing. The keeper is obliged to keep wheeling away the sand from the front side of the house to prevent sand from covering it up. The sand banks are now higher than the tops of the windows; on the sea side (to the kitchen of the dwelling) is ninety yards, it has washed away about one hundred feet last year by abrasion and sea-flows.

In all fairness to the keeper, William Fulford, his light was no worse than anyone else's. In their seven hundred and sixty page report to the Congress, (a board of inquiry) found nothing good to say about any of the lights -- they examined and reported that most keepers were untrained and did not know how to tend the lighting system .

All forty-nine American lighthouses in 1820 used the "Argland lamp" and parabolic reflectors. The Superintendent of the Light-Houses was Stephen Pleasanton, a personal friend of Winslow Lewis, developer of the lighting system. The system and its patent had been sold to the United States for $60,000. Pleasanton was a "dedicated economizer" who pointed with pride to his economic operation of the lighthouses. Unfortunately, thrift at the expense of efficiency can be costly when men's lives are at stake and Pleasanton eventually lost his job.

Perhaps the major downfall of Pleasanton was his steadfast reliance on Lewis' patent system and refusal to adopt the Fresnel system. Augustin Fresnel had developed a system so superior that many of his lenses remain in use even today. A French physicist, Fresnel had been born in 1788, six years after the Argland lamp was invented. He perfected his lens in 1822. Basically, the Fresnel lens is a glass barrel resembling a huge beehive. Its outer surface consists of prisms and bulls eyes. A single lamp sits in the center and emits light bbulls eyes into concentrated beams of parallel rays and intensified by a powerful magnifying glass in the lens' center. This resulted in a significantly brighter light than that provided by Lewis' system of numerous (as many as thirty) lamps and reflectors. In the Fresnel lens, 60 % of the light was rendered useful whereas in the Lewis system, much of the actual light was wasted in directions of no use to the mariner.
eams which are refracted by the prisms and

The disadvantage of the Fresnel lens, at least here in the United States, was that it was initially quite expensive -- $5,000 for a first order lens. For this reason, and because of his reliance on Lewis' advice, (Pleasanton) acted as a stumbling block to any movement to acquire the Fresnel lens except those purchases mandated by Congressional curiosity.

It was not until 1841 that a Fresnel lens was even tried experimentally in the U. S. and it took another decade before Congress mandated their use in all new American lighthouses. Cape Lookout, however, would continue to use its thirteen Argland lamps and thirteen 21-inch parabolic reflectors until the tower was rebuilt. On March 3, 1857, Congress appropriated $45,000 for rebuilding and refitting with a first order lens. The new tower, a red colored brick structure was lit for the first time on November 1, 1859.

The old Lighthouse would continue to stand for several years after it was no longer operational. The keepers quarters are still standing in a photograph of the area taken just before the turn of the century. Getting rid of the old tower was not as easy as one might suppose. In fact, the story of it's "fall" is almost legendary among some of the old people of the area.

For further information or to find a complete copy of the Nobles & O'Brien manuscript, contact the Cape Lookout National Seashore Park, Harkers Island, NC. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

No. 133 "When the 'worst case' might also be the 'best case'"

No. 133 "When the 'worst case' might also be the 'best case'"

Our front-row hedges, showing the stress!
In recent days I have been cutting-back our front row hedges – something I should have done long ago, because now they are so big that it’s all but impossible to cut through the thickest branches. Susan is worried that the trimming is so drastic that the bushes, mostly “Ruby Loropetalum” and “Snow Ball,” might not be able to recover from such an extreme pruning.

Considering that she might be right, I was reminded of a lesson I learned long ago from my brother Mike, and one that I have seen play out all too often in the decades since.

A white 1959 Buick LeSabre
In 1969, when I was nineteen years old, I worked and saved and bought a 1959 Buick for one hundred dollars. I soon assumed that I had overpaid. Almost from the first day, the engine would “run hot” so that I would have to stop for a while and let it cool down, and always kept a gallon of water in the trunk, just in case the radiator overflowed.

My brother, Mike, was the best mechanic I knew (or have ever known) and after trying several simple solutions, he suggested something that, he said, “would either fix it or ruin it.” I wasn’t sure I was ready for something that could be that drastic and so I questioned my brother, “So, you’re saying that in the worst case scenario it might not work at all?”

My brother Mike, with his wife Drexell, showing the smile
that usually came just before letting you know something you
should already have known before he told you.
With a broad smile he quickly responded, “What I am saying is that the worst case scenario is also the best case scenario. ‘Cause if it’s ruined, we’ll go get us a new one and we won’t have to worry about it no more!”

So, seeing Susan’s concern at what might be the demise of her beloved hedges, ones that date to our renovation from almost a decade ago, I tried to reassure her by pointing out what to me was obvious, that the “worst case scenario” she has envisioned might also be a “best case scenario.” If they don’t grow back, we’ll just get us some new ones.

By the way, back in ’69 I ended up with new-used radiator in my Buick that lasted until we later pulled the whole engine and dropped it into one of Mike’s fishing boats -  almost three years later.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

No. 132 "How and When the Island got Bigger - or so it Seemed"

No. 132 "How and When the Island got Bigger - or so it Seemed"
The refugees from the Banks who landed at the Island after the storms of 1896 and again 1899 set up their homes almost entirely along a narrow swath of land on the Island’s south shore. From there they could look towards, and on clear days, even see the glistening sand hills of the places they had left behind. More practically, they could easily work the same marshes and bays that they and their forbearers had harvested from as far back as any of them could remember, or had even heard about. Within a few years the large majority of homes were stacked, sometimes literally, between the shore and the main road that had been cut generations before from Shell Point to Red Hill.
Nestling the newcomers among the Island natives proved fairly simple since most of them had relatives already here, and there soon developed family-centered neighborhoods that stretched from the Yeomans clan at Shell Point at the East’ard all the way to the Brookses at Rush and Harkers Points at the West’ard – with Roses, Gaskills, Lewises, Nelsons, Davises, Fulfords, Styrons, Moores, and Hancocks in between. Beyond that there were several clusters of Guthries and Willises, and especially the later, almost everywhere as well as among themselves.
Aerial view of the Island taken in the 1940s showing that
homes were almost entirely along the south-facing shoreline
These south shore enclaves continued to grow, but mostly by subdividing the land already claimed by each family for three or more generations. Multi-acre plots were divided and carved time after time until by the mid 1960’s most homes sat on plots of a quarter acre or even less - sometimes much less, and with boundaries that resembled randomly shaped patterns much more than the squares or rectangles of more typical land development.
But even with that, the available land along the shoreline was all but gone by the time I came along, and it was obvious that development would have to spread much farther inland for there to be enough room for any new homes and families. Fortunately that was made possible when by the early sixties, two of the Island’s longest-standing and original families came to the rescue with development plans that opened up most of the rest of the Island to new homes and neighborhoods.
The Davises and Fulfords had been living on Harkers Island for almost two centuries by the time the exodus from the Banks and their arrival at the Island began. Their heirs, especially Earl Davis and Owen Fulford, still maintained title and ownership to most of what had remained undeveloped more than half a century after that initial influx. By the sixties both of them began to formally develop that acreage into real subdivisions, with plots and roads that they offered for sale. This was just in time for the baby-boomers of my generation.

By the early seventies they were not only selling, but financing the sale of mostly half-acre plots in developments that soon reached all the way across the Island to the Bay, as most of the north side of the Island was called, and that stretched from the East’ard all the way to the Bridge. Within two decades the number of homes on the Island had more than doubled. Perhaps more important than the increase in available lots, was that it was timed exactly right to allow at least one more generation of Harkers Islanders to remain close to their families and the livelihoods that had sustained them for so many years.