Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Meanwhile, Some Real Stuff
My former and occasional band-mate, Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake, spends a lot of time talking to fishermen who work the sounds of the NC Outer Banks. Here's a youtube posting she did of an interview with a guy named Rex O'Neal, who is a fisherman living and working in Ocracoke, NC, where Libby and I lived for about 9 years back when Clinton was President and we thought we could more or less do what we wanted, i.e., play music, build a foundation, make some glass art, play some more music.
Rex, as you can tell, was hard at work, then as now. He's a good man, and has caught a lot of fish in his day. Listening to his story, I can smell the salt air again. Ocracoke is a little sand island sitting 23 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. The best time to be there is probably in the middle of January, with a cold north wind at your back, standing at the Swan Quarter Ferry Dock and looking at the white caps on the sound and the gulls swirling around. You can hear your own thoughts pretty well at such a moment.
Libby worked for a time at the little gallery, "Island Art Works," shown in the photo at the top. The artist who runs the place is married to Ronnie O'Neal, another Ocracoke fisherman, Captain last time I was there of the "Miss Kathleen." There are two big families of O'Neals who live on Ocracoke. Neither family says they are related to the other family. Back in the early early days of European settlement of America, Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, lived on Ocracoke part time, when he wasn't working for the Governor of North Carolina, who resided in the village of Bath, across the sound (and not far from where the Swan Quarter Ferry now docks up on the sound-side). There was a tiny war between North Carolina and Virginia because Mr. Blackbeard was picking off shipping from the islands which was headed up to Virginia. A naval force commanded by one Captain Maynard came down to the Pamlico, caught Blackbeard at low tide, and eventually boarded his ship and killed him, cutting off his head and taking the trophy back to Virginia. Legend has it the skull became a goblet, possibly residing to this day in Gimghoul Castle in Chapel Hill. Legend has it that Blackbeard's body swam ten times around his ship before sinking beneath the waves.
Arrrrrr, me buckos, and that were the way it was. And a good thing, too, that Blackbeard's yacht, Queen Anne's Revenge, didn't have no outboard motor. Arrrrrr. But now I hears Blind Pew a tap tappin, 'n the shadow from the yard arm be near six bells. Begone, ye brats, and to the riggin' wit' ye.