A sun dog (the small rainbow effect to the left of the setting sun in this shot) is a weather phenomenon that can be seen on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach
A sun dog (the small rainbow effect visible to the left of the setting sun in this shot) is a weather phenomenon that can be seen on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

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See Editor’s note below.

B. J. Oelschlegel
Broker w/Ocracoke’s Lightship Realty
…Before there was a lighthouse, we had a lightship to light the way for mariners…

Along with the beauty of the island and access to the natural elements, our guests time and again mention the sense of community that they feel on Ocracoke.

I often wonder what their experience might have been to give them that impression. I can imagine it might be when one shop owner says that they don’t offer that product or service but directs them to another island vendor who does. Or maybe it is when they see the waitress from lunch, scooping their afternoon ice cream cone. It would be an interesting research project.

I have collected a couple of personal stories which illuminate the inner workings of the island community experience.

Ken DeBarth told me a quick story about helping a friend with securing a fishing license. This wasn’t a straight forward transaction at Ken’s place of work, at The Trade Winds Tackle Shop. No, this friend found herself on the Swan Quarter ferry, about to join other friends on the mainland for a day of crabbing–without a fishing license. Ken filled out the paper work, paid the fee and texted her the license number, in case anyone asked.

Only on Ocracoke?

At this point, you may also have a story. A boat sinks at the dock and two guys rush to get their jet pumps and work until the boat is floating again. The “knock-on-wood” rare fire starts and neighbors rush to the scene with hoses and jet pumps to assist before the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department arrives.

My story involves islander Philip Howard.

About a year ago, I was working at the real estate office when the phone rang. Philip started the conversation with, “Now BJ, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to and we will still be friends if you say no.” 

Of course, my curiosity was piqued, and I asked him to tell me what’s up. Philip was in the market for a memory foam mattress and found the one he wanted–on the Costco website.

Philip knows that I am a Costco devotee. He also knows that he didn’t want to pay the membership fee.

“So, Philip,” I said. “You want me to use my membership and order this mattress for you? I will have to use my credit card to match the name on the membership.”

“Would you be willing to do that?” he replied. “I will walk a check over to you right now.”

I have known Philip for the 39 years that I have lived on Ocracoke and so together we set up the online purchase, comparing product numbers and description.

I placed the order and he walked over with a check made out to my credit card company.

That afternoon, he called me with a story of his having been at the post office.

He had related the story about his new mattress to another villager.

“Only, on Ocracoke could you ask someone to place an order, ship it to your house, and pay for it with their credit card!” he said.

Yes, only on Ocracoke.

Editor’s note: This story was published in the December/Winter 2016 edition of the monthly print paper.  Since then, the editor heard an interesting “Only on Ocracoke” story from Melissa Sharber, an Ocracoke post office clerk and a font of island knowledge.
Melissa told about an islander whose son was ill in the middle of the night and posted a request to Facebook asking if anyone had certain medications. One of the replies was from Cathy Hutcherson of the Ocracoke Variety Store, who had said, “I’ll give you the keys to the store and you can go and see if we have what you need.”
Only on Ocracoke!

We invite you to share your own “Only on Ocracoke” stories.








BJ Oelschlegel is a regular columnist and a broker with Ocracoke’s Lightship Realty


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  1. This was a hearsay story, about when they took the high school kids to Gaffer’s to watch Charles Temple win his Jeopardy Teacher’s Tournament – which happened to be on Prom Night. You’ll have to ask Walt for the exact quote, but he said something like, ‘Only on Ocracoke could you take the entire prom out to a bar and not get in trouble!’

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