In his acclaimed book, “Ocracoke,” first published in 1956, Carl Goerch writes about meeting John G. Perry, a lawyer from upstate New York.
He asked Perry how he chose Ocracoke to vacation. Perry said he first visited the island in the summer of
1947 and with only two or three exceptions had continued to choose Ocracoke for his summer vacation.
“I’ve been to various vacation resorts — all the way from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Miami, Florida, but I’ve
never found a spot where I can get such complete rest and relaxation as I can here,” he said.
“The trouble with most places is that there’s too much going on. The big hotels have hostesses who try to
drag you into bridge games, tennis matches, sight-seeing expeditions, horseback riding and a lot of other
things. There’s a constant stream of people milling around you. All of them are heading for some sort of
“The general idea about that kind of vacation is to keep doing something. As a result of this, when you get
back to your office, you feel in greater need of rest than you did before you left home.
“Now down here it’s altogether different. Nobody bothers you, and you can do exactly as you please. If
you want to spend most of the day sleeping, you’re at liberty to do so. If you want to walk around, go
fishing, take a dip in the ocean, spend your time reading, nobody will interfere with you.
“There isn’t somebody around always nagging at you to do this, that or the other thing. As a matter of
fact, nobody cares what you do.
“When I get away from here, I’ve had complete rest. And, after all is said and done, that’s what a vacation
is supposed to do for you. I can get all the night-club entertainment, bridge-playing, theatre attractions
and all other types of amusement and entertainment back home. Why should I wear myself out going to
big resorts and engaging in that sort of thing?
“No, sir; not me. Ocracoke appeals to me, and I’m better satisfied here than at any place I’ve ever been,
so far as spending a vacation is concerned.”
This sentiment is the reason why Ocracoke still appeals to a great many who vacation here, and those who
live here accept the challenges of less civilization.
All of us go through periods of nostalgia, wishing for the good old days. Ocracoke is certainly not what it
was in the ’50s when Goerch wrote his still-in-print book that has nearly immortalized its reputation as a
destination like no others.
Now into the 2021 tourist season, there is some cause for celebration, or, at least, relief. Thanks to the oversight by the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief and Recovery Team (OIRRT) and the generosity of many volunteers and groups, the island is almost rebuilt back from the devastating flooding from Hurricane Dorian in September 2019, although much work still is needed.
Most restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted on May 14.
Some major popular events — the Ocrafolk Festival, Independence Day festivities, the Fig Festival and
Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree — will go on but will be scaled back. But the Firemen’s Ball, benefitting the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, and the Women’s Arm Wrestling Tournament, benefitting Ocracoke’s community radio station, WOVV 90.1 FM, were canceled well before the guidelines were eased.
Visitors and islanders alike have lots to look forward to this summer.
The evening music scene has returned, the National Park Service has daily programs, the Ocracoke
Preservation Society has resumed its porch talks, and the community library will have lots of
children’s activities albeit inside Deepwater Theater while the actual library is lifted and rebuilt from flooding.
Still, you can also opt out as Perry did and just relax: Immerse yourself in nature, walk the beach, enjoy
the amazing skyscapes or grab that elusive afternoon nap.
We’re glad the world and Ocracoke are getting back to some kind of normal and ask visitors to enjoy and
respect our “island that lives on the edge.”