Ocracoke sky. Photo: C. Leinbach
Ocracoke sky. Photo: C. Leinbach

The following letters were published in the September 2016 issue of the Ocracoke Observer

Thanks to islanders for their support


We visited Ocracoke many times in the past and enjoyed it all.  We eagerly explored the town, the beach, shops and restaurants, but most of all we enjoyed the people.  On these visits we missed seeing the heart and love you have until a tragedy struck. 

That is when you came forth with the support that helped us through the most difficult time of our lives.

Debbie, Joe and Mandi Fraga and I were visiting Ruth Fordon and Ken DeBarth when the tragedy struck.

On Aug. 11, at 1:58 in the afternoon we lost Debbie.  She and her daughter Mandi were caught in a rip tide.  Mandi made it out but her mom did not.  The early responders did all they could but they could not save our Debbie.

What happened next can only be described as a miracle.  As the news spread, you came with physical and mental support that showed what we missed in our past visits.

There are no words that can adequately describe how we feel.  We suffer because of our loss, but we now have a much stronger feeling for the people of Ocracoke.

Thank you for the support you gave our family.

Jean E. DeBarth
Harleysville, Pa.

Charmed by island hug


Following my husband’s and my first overnight visit to Ocracoke, after decades of renting and seven years of owning in the northern OBX, we are compelled to reach out to the community that seemed to greet us with a huge hug.

Was this to be expected given the tourist time of the year?  Was this really the typical disingenuous come-on to encourage us to open our wallets and then get the heck out of Dodge?  Were we just two of many rapacious photo op seekers roaming the quaint streets of this historic area, mindlessly snapping while locals try to drive around us?

As we entered the Cove B&B, we were greeted by two pre-teen sisters coloring at the dining table along with the manager, Sharon Brodisch.  No, they were not hers but stopped in periodically to visit and share news.

Would I like to join them in their arts and crafts? Wow. No credit sign in first?

I quickly came to find out that I am sitting next to a local celebrity as Emilia has her own show, Island Girl Talk, on the Ocracoke radio station, WOVV (90.1 FM on the island and online at wovv.org).  Her lively sister, Juliette, espouses her sibling’s virtues. 

Finishing a colorful creation of hearts, she suddenly, timidly passes it over to me as a welcome gift. Yes, I’m enchanted.

Now think… How many times lately have you walked into a room of complete strangers and been embraced into their personal conversation, immediately invited to the family table and passed the heaping platter of goodwill and community news as if your surname was written all over those beloved Ocracoke grave markers?

The remainder of our visit was similarly experienced and, on our way back north, I read my husband our first copy of the Ocracoke Observer cover-to-cover as it had become our own hometown newspaper.

Thank you, people of Ocracoke.

Melissa R. Phillips and Chip Cottrell
Richmond, VA

The thrill of an unexpected gift


Back in 2013, I wrote about a very pleasant experience on the island involving Rene Flores, head of maintenance for Ocracoke Island Realty.

We had checked in and picked up the keys for our waterside unit. On getting to the condo, we were unable to get either of the keys to open the locked door as said lock was somewhat worn from much use.

Ocracoke Island Realty responded to our cellphone call almost immediately by sending Rene to install a new lock.  While he was here, we struck up a conversation and I learned he was from Mexico. I told him how I had spent part of my growing up years on a 1,100-acre cattle ranch outside of San Antonio and I tried to exchange a bit of my Tex-Mex Spanish with him.

I related how I was delighted to find a selection of Mexican food on the island (Eduardo’s and The Jolly Roger), but I lamented that nowhere in the north nor here on the island could I get an authentic Mexican tamale done in the original way and cooked in a corn husk.

The next evening, about dinnertime, there was a knock on our door and there was Rene with a platter of hot, traditional tamales in corn husks, which his wife Martha had prepared for our family. I almost cried… not just for the tamales, but his kindness as well.

Fast forward to Aug. 9. Had just gotten ice cream at the Slushy Stand and when we came out, there was Rene, Martha and their kids.  We had a pleasant reunion and I thanked them again for the tamales. 

Two mornings later, we were just sitting down to breakfast when, again, there was a knock at the door and there was Rene with another platter of hot, fresh tamales! We enjoyed them with breakfast and the next evening with dinner.

Rene’s kindness is typical of the attitude we have met time and again in the 25 plus years we have spent our summer vacations on Ocracoke.  Now that we are semi-retired from the newspaper business, we stretch our days here to nearly three weeks and look forward to it each year.

We have gotten to know many island residents and consider them our friends. We were delighted to have a part in getting Molasses Creek to perform in Hershey on their fall tour up north.

William S. Jackson,
Editor Emeritus
The Sun,
Hershey, Pa.

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