December 26, 2016

Days of Old Christmas Past

Filed under: history,Outer Banks,oysters,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 2:37 pm

When I first moved to Rodanthe, I heard about Old Christmas. It took me a while to understand the roots of this tradition and it’s anachronism to modern times. Dating back perhaps 200 years, it has much to do with the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar and the isolation of the Outer Banks.

I’ve enjoyed Old Christmas over the years and have never seen anything quite like it. These days it consists of an oyster roast, dinner, music, dancing and anything that might come with it.

Decades old photographs that I shot at the event have become windows into a vintage past. Most of the pictures shown here were taken in 1985.

j-henryLocals gathered at the Community Building parking lot to begin celebrating. Anderson Midgett is on the far right checking out a shotgun. Jim Henry, the grey-haired man in the middle who did much at Chicamacomico Station, loved mingling with the crowd.

timIt almost took a village to start a fire for roasting salty oysters. Tim Merritt looks on as Larry Midgett and Rudy Gray get cooking.

dbBill Midgett, DB Midgett and John Edgar Herbert tailgated at the oyster shoot.

larryLarry Midgett took aim to win a bushel of oysters.

jobob“Jobob” Fegundes and Bruce Midgett shared responsibilities over the fire.

macEveryone enjoyed the oyster roast, including Mac and Steve Midgett.

old-buckAnd of course the culmination was the appearance of Old Buck, here being led by John Edgar. There are 2 well-known photographers in this shot too. Drew Wilson, a staff photographer for the Virginian Pilot is on the right wearing a brown hat. David Alan Harvey, a staffer for National Geographic, is behind the man in the tan sweater sitting on the stage. David was loading more film. So I was shooting in good company that night.

This year Old Christmas will be on January 7th, beginning with an afternoon oyster shoot, and continuing into the night.

In Rodanthe, Christmas is celebrated twice a year.

March 25, 2016

Salvo Relics

Filed under: buildings,history,Outer Banks,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 7:44 pm

There were some things  around in the 70’s, remnants of folks living in Salvo long before me. In retrospect I wish I had taken a lot more pictures of those relics. Each year that goes by brings change. In with the new, yet the old ways deteriorate and eventually are gone. I always enjoyed the rural feeling, especially in the village of Salvo. There were remains there that I saw nowhere else.

mr. perry's                                            The old homesteads were simple and functional. Mr. Perry Farrow’s place was a hundred yards from a trailer that I rented. Cisterns were a common source for water. They called it sweet water.

whidbee houseAt the south end of town, the Whidbee place sat in a gorgeous, well sheltered maritime forest. Years later when the surrounding property was sold to a developer, most of that pristine forest was cut down.

outhouse                                        Nearby stood an outhouse that no longer served a purpose.

fire truckThe Salvo fire truck was parked in a lot next to the long-abandoned Community Store that was beginning to fall apart.miss kitty'sI never met Miss Kitty, but her old home next to Dan Leary’s store was covered in briars, honeysuckle and poison ivy.

church                                      One of the most well-maintained buildings in town was the “Little Church with a Big God”. I remember hearing about Lucy Hooper salvaging timbers from shipwrecks to build it. She was a pillar in the community and by the time I met her, she was getting quite old.

hattie creefIn the old days, the Hattie Creef was a mainstay of Outer Banks travel, and even played a role in bringing the Wright Brothers to Kill Devil Hills for their first flights. The boat was brought to Salvo and made into a most unusual restaurant.

fishermen                                    Fathers fished for a living and passed it down to their sons. One day in 1975, I watched as I D Midgett was getting underway from a Salvo creek in a wooden skiff with his sons. This just doesn’t happen here any more.

 

 

 

 

January 25, 2016

Winter Storm

Filed under: black & white photography,history,Outer Banks,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 3:14 pm

Last week, forecasters predicted a low pressure system to develop into a major winter storm for the east coast. Things turned out as expected with snow dumped to the north of us in dramatic amounts. At home, we had just over an inch of cold rain backed by some gale force winds. Oceanfront properties were threatened by large waves but little damage. Sound front properties saw tide surges of about 3 feet as west winds kicked in.

houseOn Saturday the seas were still running with strong westerlies blowing into the swells. This house at Mirlo Beach was awfully close to the action.

wavesThe surf and clouds were stunning.

offshoreWave tops were feathering nicely.

cemeterySadly on the sound side, seas were once again beating the shoreline at an old family cemetery in the Salvo day use area. Headstones and crypts were inundated and falling in the water. Other than that, this winter storm posed no serious problems.

The biggest winter storm I’ve seen here occurred 35 years ago in March of 1980. A coastal low was right on us as temperatures plummeted below freezing, accompanied by a foot of snow with northeast winds gusting to a hundred miles an hour. The blizzard brought white out conditions with zero visibility. Sea tide mixed with floating ice and snow flowed through Rodanthe.

hwy 12Bruce Midgett rescued Robin Gerald from his old house surrounded by 3 feet of tide and drove him to higher ground.

cottageThe Queen Cottage was one of the few oceanfront houses in north Rodanthe. I took this picture from the roof of my place with a 400mm lens. The cottage was eventually washed away in a later storm and no longer exists.

oceanAs seas washed around the Queen Cottage, I shot this picture from the deck. The ocean was breaking all the way to the horizon.

my houseLooking back from the Queen Cottage I photographed my house amid streets of sea water and ice.

I had never seen a storm like that before, nor have I seen one quite like it since.

 

October 25, 2015

Elvin

Filed under: buildings,history,hunting,Outer Banks,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 3:29 pm

My last blog entry had me digging into some old black and white negatives. Along the way, it opened up some chapters of my life more than 30 years ago. With most of my photography shot in color, the black and white images have been largely unseen.

One picture that caught my attention was a negative of my friend, Elvin Hooper. At the time, I was living and working in Elvin’s home town of Salvo. There was a northeaster blowing the sound tide out, and he picked me up to go to Brick Creek to look for clams and oysters. It was rainy so I took my Nikonos waterproof camera loaded with some Tri-X film.

Elvin

I’ve known Elvin ever since I moved here.  Always a gentleman, he grew up in the village of Salvo and is a lifelong Hatterasman. The area was completely different then, he was a part of it and he loves to reminisce. He also writes, and has recently published 2 books.

Two years ago, he called me about a cover shot for his first book. Entitled Chicamacomico How it was back then, it’s a fictional piece based on experiences growing up. We chose a Kodachrome slide that I shot of Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station in 1974. It shows a weathered building in an open field with nothing around it. That’s the way it was.

chicamacomico

About the same time he had another book in progress, a collection of personal memories called Gull Island and Other Stories. It was just published and launched 2 weeks ago. For me, it has some personal significance in that I spent several years as a hunting guide at Gull Island Gunning Club. For that cover we picked a shot of the club house taken in 1979.

club house

Elvin’s older brother, Burt, also worked as a guide at Gull Island. I got to know him and we became friends. We worked on lots of projects together for the hunt club, and Elvin dedicated the book to him. We used a picture of Burt that I took while we were building a duck blind in 1977.

Burt

Books are available through the author or by contacting Gee Gee at Buxton Village Books, 252-995-2420.

July 27, 2015

William and Edward

Filed under: history,Outer Banks,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 4:51 pm

When I first moved to Hatteras Island, I noticed how special the locals were. Some families had lived on the island for generations, their ancestors arriving here as victims of shipwrecks. They were isolated and not affected by the outside world very much. I admired their simple, resourceful lives.

home

William and Edward Hooper were born and raised in Salvo. William worked in Norfolk for a while, but other than that, they were here all their lives. They were brothers and best friends. You would hardly ever see one without the other, and mentioning one almost always required mentioning the other. They were inseparable and the kindest people you’d ever meet.

Edward was widely known as the Postmaster of one of the smallest post offices in the country.

They were always hospitable when I visited them and would sometimes invite me for dinner.

One of my last visits was November of 2010. Eating at the kitchen table I noticed a window pane had fallen out and I volunteered to fix it.

When I returned the following day to work on it, they came out and stood under an old fig tree to chat with me. I asked if I could take their picture, and they said yes.

portrait

Little did I know that 9 months later, Hurricane Irene would sweep through and drastically change their lives. The flooded family homestead was no longer habitable so they were displaced to an assisted living facility.

Edward passed away a year and a half later and William 8 months after that.

They were 91 and 83 respectively.

I miss them a lot, and am reminded how things never remain the same on this beautiful barrier island that we call home.