Hurricane Hazel

On October 15, 1954, a terrible storm makes for a terrible day for the entire country. One county in rural southeastern North Carolina takes the most direct hit, with lives and communities shattered under the storm clouds.

It is the afternoon before the full moon. The fish are going crazy — jumping, jumping, swirling, swirling — sensing a change in the earth, sensing a storm coming.

The people are fairly clueless. In Southport, a fishing village with oyster-shell streets, a teenage boy looks out into the Cape Fear River — a rough river on a good day, a symptom of hell on this day — and he can’t help himself. He must get to them, those crazy fish.

So he rows his 14-foot wooden skiff into the churning channel. The boy comes from a family of fishermen. He’s only 15, but he knows he’ll be one, too. Today is a dream day for him. Spots and bluefish and Spanish mackerel practically jump into the rocking boat. One by one, he hangs them on a string, and soon he runs out of room on the string, so he turns home. He rows toward town and looks to the north, and on the weather tower, two flags are raised and blowing, blowing. Hurricane warning.

But it’s just that, a warning. The future? What is that? Right now, he has a string full of fish. What else matters? Weather, to a boy, only counts when it’s happening. To say a storm is coming is like saying he’ll get old one day, and the teenage boy cares as much about those flags blowing, blowing, as he does warnings to not swim within an hour of eating. Besides, as of this day, October 14, 1954, Tookie Potter has never seen a hurricane.

Rain starts to fall as he ties up the skiff. He walks across the street to the front porch of his family home. His mom waits at the door. He holds up the string of fish, 10 feet long and smelling of success, and his mom yells at him. “There’s a hurricane coming. I’ve been worried sick.” (Story continues below.)


By |December 16th, 2013|Hurricane Hazel|268 Comments

The First Inhabitants of Ocean Isle Beach (10,000 BC to 1521 AD)

The first people to live on and near Ocean Isle were American Indians who arrived here about 10,000 BC. There are many Indian arrowheads and pottery pieces in farmers’ fields around Ocean Isle. The primary tribe in the Ocean Isle Beach area was the Cape Fear Indians, but there were also a few settlements of Waccamaw, Iroquois, Catawba, Lumbee, and Choctaw Indians. All of these tribes spoke the Siouan Indian language. The Cape Fear Indians basically hunted in the winter and farmed during the summer. They fished year-round in the Ocean Isle area and gathered oysters and clams. They lived in settlements of dome shaped wigwams. The ground was the floor in a wigwam. A hole in the roof of the wigwam permitted smoke from the fire to escape.


By |December 3rd, 2013|Articles|315 Comments

The Revolutionary War Years at Ocean Isle Beach (1765-1785)

Brunswick County is where the first open armed resistance to the Stamp Act occurred on November 28, 1765 – eight years before the Boston Tea Party in 1773. In 1763, England sent 10,000 new Red Coats to the Colonies and began taxing the Colonies to pay for this expense. The British imposed the Stamp Act in 1765 and this infuriated the colonists. Residents in Brunswick County led the first revolt against British ships. The revolt here led to England repealing the Stamp Act in the Spring of 1766.



By |December 3rd, 2013|Articles|292 Comments

The Explorer Years (1524 to 1699) at Ocean Isle Beach

In March 1524, the Cape Fear Indians watched Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano anchor his ship near Ocean Isle Beach and come ashore. Verrazano spent a few weeks exploring. He found the local Indians to be friendly. He wrote in his diary that “the natives go nude except at the private parts where they wear skins of animals; some natives wear garlands of bird feathers.” Verrazano described the Indians as “russet colored and somewhat larger than Europeans, with well-proportioned bodies clothed in animal skins and feathers.”



By |December 3rd, 2013|Articles|282 Comments