Outer Banks Memories Never Fade
Anyone who has spent time on the Outer Banks knows the magical hold it can have on you. If you’ve ever caught sight of the breathtaking sunrise growing from the Atlantic, each one as singular in its beauty and as unique in its definition as you are in yours, then you have a memory of the magnificence of these Outer Banks.
Those who call the Outer Banks home have lifetimes of memories of this place, anchored to the harbors, the sand, landscapes, and of course the sound and the sea. But whether you’ve been raised with sand between your toes or only get to experience it once a year, the Outer Banks seeps into your inner world and leaves its imprint on your soul – memories that don’t fade with the seasons or even the years.
My Outer Banks Home took some time this spring to interview people about their favorite memories of this sandbar we all love. Here are some that are certainly worth sharing:
Roger Whitehurst, 74 – Kill Devil Hills, NC
“My people were from Coinjock and Portsmouth. Every summer we’d come down to Avalon as a big family thing. There was a big wooden bridge then from Point Harbor. We’d bring everyone to the beach…aunts, uncles, cousins, cats, birds. There was a casino at Jockey’s Ridge for the adults, a couple of motels and grocery stores, not these big ones like now, but little groceries like Cahoon’s and The Trading Post. Few restaurants then, except Sam & Omie’s and Owens’. We did three things when we got here: we swam, we fished and we had fun. Then they packed up and went home, until the next year.”
Kacey Novello, 34 Brunswick, MD
“Gosh, how could I pick just one fond childhood memory of the Outer Banks? The memory that still makes my eyes glisten a little is spending nights at my great-grandfather’s house in Wanchese. My grandmother and grandfather would always ask me to travel ‘back home’ with them each Easter break. It always made me feel special because I was the only granddaughter out of three who would go. We would always end up at Poppy’s house. The smell, the old charm, and the scenery of that old, old house will never leave my senses. Watching Poppy take care of his more than 100-year-old house each spring made me realize just how special it was to our family. Picking figs off his big fig tree, fishing on the beach, exploring everywhere. That’s how I want my kids to remember their school breaks on the Outer Banks.”
Faye White, 91 Wanchese, NC
(Note: Both Ms. Faye’s father and grandfather were lighthouse keepers when she was a little girl between the ages of 5 and 8.) “Daddy would take me, by boat, from Baumtown Landing up north to the lighthouse my granddaddy ran. It wasn’t one of those tall ones, but it was like that one in Manteo harbor now. (This type, a “screw-pile lighthouse,” is a two-level platform with a house and light built on top, commonly used in waterways and rivers.) When we got there, my granddaddy saw us coming, and he came down the ladder to the platform. Daddy would lift me up from the boat, and pass me to Granddaddy. Then I’d run on over and up the ladder to the house and my Grandmother.”
Chris Coleman, 40 Windsor Heights, IA
“One of my favorite childhood memories from the Outer Banks is the time that a number of family members gathered at the home of a cousin in Ocracoke. She lived in the keeper’s house of the Ocracoke lighthouse. I remember waking up, looking out the window, and having to put my face right near the glass just to see the top of the light. Later on we took a small boat into the sound. We spent the day looking for the ‘little keyhole-shaped’ openings in the sand that meant a clam was buried there. It was a great, fun outing. And I think that was the first time I ever had steamed clams!”
Judy Johnson, 65 Wanchese, NC
“Well, one of my fondest memories is of all of us kids riding our bikes into Manteo on a Saturday or Sunday to go to the matinee at the Pioneer Theatre. And, of course, we’d swim and fish in the sound, play games and run around, like kids do. We used to chase the mosquito spraying truck, too, which I’m sure wasn’t good for us. We didn’t take a summer vacation because Daddy was a fishing boat captain and that was his busy time. But every year we’d all get together for a family reunion at Coquina Beach with all the fixins’. Just all good fun!”
Dave Ogilvy, 43 Baltimore, MD
We’ve been coming down here off and on for about 10 years now. The kids love the beach, kayaking and hang gliding. Sometimes we all go to see “The Lost Colony” show; the wives like it. But the big memory is my brother and I love to get at least a day’s fishing trip offshore. Each time is an adventure, just him and I. And then we do fishing off the pier or off the beach, too. Nothin’ better than grilling up your fresh day’s catch for dinner!”
There you go, folks. Memories abound on these beautiful Outer Banks. They’re just down the road or around the next bend. Follow your nose and be alert. Grab that elusive “now” while it’s here! ♦
Rebecca is a recent Iowa transplant to the Outer Banks and spends her days enjoying the beach and seafood, and her nights contemplating the sea and the stars. It has been her long-held dream to be a writer.