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.

July 12, 2016

Wilbur Gaskill

Filed under: buildings,Outer Banks,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 2:00 pm

Corkey's

From the very first time I visited the island, Ocracoke has always struck a cord with me. On an excursion to the village in 1978, I was wandering the back roads near Corkey’s Grocery Store. There was an old timer sitting on the porch wittling wooden birds with a pocket knife. I was enthralled with this scene as I approached. A budding photographer, I was a bit timid shooting people, especially if I didn’t know them. I wanted a picture and asked for his permission first. He said okay and I took three or four shots.

Gaskill

It didn’t occur to me at the time that this encounter would never happen again. I have always cherished this photo of him. Wilbur Gaskill passed away two years later.

June 23, 2016

Selby Jr.

Looking back, some of my most endearing photographs were portrait shots of locals. If I had it to do all over again, I would concentrate on environmental portraiture more than I did. I guess it’s fortunate that I captured anything at all. Life is full of regrets. Most of the time we have only one chance at something, then the opportunity is gone forever.

One of my favorite portraits was taken in 1980 as I accompanied my fishing friends setting up a pound net. It’s a labor intensive process, cutting the stakes from a forest, transporting them out to the Pamlico Sound and jetting them firmly into the bottom. The wooden stakes are the framework to support the net system. The pound net is an old, yet efficient method of catching fish. Fish follow a line of net that leads into a rectangular pound where they are trapped alive, until they are bailed out by the fishermen.selby jr

Selby Gaskins Jr. was a young man then and willing to pitch in to help. Mischievous at times, he always seemed to have a good time and not cause much trouble to anyone. In this shot he was taking a break after applying his weight to force the pole down as it was pumped into the bottom. He was obviously enjoying himself as I took some pictures. For me this photograph typifies the carefree lifestyle when I moved here, no shoes, no shirt, no problem.

Later in life Selby was stricken with MS, and over the years has slowly lost much of his physical capabilities. It’s been heartbreaking to see this happen to a friend. He’s spent years restricted to a motorized wheelchair, yet used it to get to the post office or go to a friend’s house. The community has come together to help in a number of fundraising events. Much to his appreciation, some of us have brought him fish and oysters. I’ve always been amazed at his courage living with this relentless, debilitating disease. His life is a tough one.

April 23, 2016

Greatest Generation

Filed under: black & white photography,military,People — j0jgvm89bj @ 4:29 pm

Coined by journalist Tom Brokaw, those that grew up through the depression and then experienced the Second World War are known as the Greatest Generation. They were also the parents of baby boomers like me.

1942

My mother and father married in Annapolis in 1942, after dad joined the Navy. Early on, he was gone a lot, and mom was on her own taking care of the babies. A few years after I was born, we moved from California to Japan. There were tours in the states, Newfoundland and Guam. We moved around as a military family, and it was an interesting life growing up. There were trials and tribulations, but it was the time of our lives.

Dad passed away in 2001, five months before 9-11. Mom died just recently on April 12th at the age of 92. She lives on in me and my siblings. With Mothers Day approaching, I recall a poem I read to her recently. It was written by a dear friend, Louis Richard Batzler.

TO MOTHER

In your womb you formed my body,

At birth in your pain you released me,

To begin my earthly journey,

To manifest my destiny,

Then in my helpless infancy,

You nursed, nurtured wonderfully,

My body, mind and spirit gently,

As years went by so swiftly,

Your presence ever lovingly,

Guided and guarded my ways,

Throughout my nights and days,

With countless unheralded displays,

Of kind care and encouraging praise,

How can I express my gratitude,

For the magnitude and multitude,

Of all the ways you blessed my being?

It’s beyond all speaking and all seeing,

Such thankfulness is ineffable,

I can only say my heart is full,

Of love for you and that you shall be,

Always present in my memory,

For such a love as yours for me,

Lives on throughout eternity.

 

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.