Carl Goerch’s iconic book is available at Books to Be Red and the Ocracoke Preservation Society.

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.

“I’ve never found a spot where I can get such complete rest and relaxation as I can here.”

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.”

The relatively uncrowded Lifeguard Beach on Ocracoke was named the No. 3 top beach in America in May by ‘Dr. Beach.’ Photo: C. Leinbach

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  1. Mud puddles at the campground. Infernal golf carts everywhere! You need to go there an early spring or fall. Forget the summer!

  2. My buddies and I used to go to a campground there in the mid 70’s late in the summer
    Six high school clowns in one cabin tent
    We took lacrosse sticks, a football and some surf fishing equipment.
    One day we were walking down the beach and ended up in the midst of a bunch of naked sunbathers…. hilarious to us.
    Food at the small restaurant in town was great…we got sunburned and bit up by black flies but had a great time!

  3. I read the book mentioned above by Carl Goerch while I was vacationing in Ocracoke last week. My Dad now deceased tried to get me to read the book for years. I kept putting it off and for nostalgic reasons I bought the book along which I’m glad I did. Thanks dad! I have been visiting Ocracoke for years and the book even though first published in 1956 could not be a better example for what and how life is on this beautiful Island. Really surprised to see your article after arriving back home. Thanks!

    Steve Hill

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