Ocracokers

( 1 )

Overview

North Carolina's Ocracoke island has produced a remarkably cohesive community of islanders. For more than two centuries, these Ocracokers lived in relative isolation, enjoying the beauty and battling the destructive forces of the Atlantic. In the past two decades, tourists discovered this "unique fishing village by the sea," and the tiny island was forever altered. Alarmed at the dramatic changes in the island's character over the past generation, Alton Ballance set out to capture the story of Ocracoke and its ...

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Overview

North Carolina's Ocracoke island has produced a remarkably cohesive community of islanders. For more than two centuries, these Ocracokers lived in relative isolation, enjoying the beauty and battling the destructive forces of the Atlantic. In the past two decades, tourists discovered this "unique fishing village by the sea," and the tiny island was forever altered. Alarmed at the dramatic changes in the island's character over the past generation, Alton Ballance set out to capture the story of Ocracoke and its people from the unique perspective of a native.

Ballance accompanies the people of Ocracoke on their everyday activities—fishing, hunting, boating—all the time recording their stories about events and people that have shaped the island's history. They have lived through hurricanes, and they remember their ancestors talking of the shipwrecks and daring rescues that occurred off the treacherous coast. During the many years when no doctor resided on the island, Ocracokers delivered each other's babies and attended to their own illnesses, sometimes with local cures.

When Ballance was growing up on Ocracoke in the 1960s and 1970s, the number of year-round residents hovered around 500. Now Ocracoke is a major tourist attraction visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year. As tourism has flourished, the island has become less isolated, and Ballance discusses the consequences of this development for both islander and visitor. The modernization that accompanies tourism has provided many benefits for the island, among them better health care and schooling and more jobs. Nonetheless, the Ocracoke of old is rapidly disappearing. This book is a tribute to that Ocracoke and her people.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ocracoke, a small island off North Carolina and, as of 1980, home to 658 year-round residents, is a ripe subject, offering intrigue (early 18th-century Ocracoke was a haven for pirates), a romantic setting (wild ponies still roam there) and conflict (outside investors make land acquisition and ownership increasingly difficult for natives). But although Ballance, whose ancestors settled Ocracoke over 200 years ago and who teaches at the local high school, has researched his topic prodigiously and conducted copious interviews, he floats almost arbitrarily from topic to topic. Never does he challenge or probe, despite his stated goal of delving beyond the ``quaint fishing village'' stereotype. Why, for example, does an elderly woman from Ocracoke's one black family conclude a spirited account of her unruly childhood by stating abruptly, ``I can't say that I really enjoy life''? A whimsical, warm chapter about mulleting and the technical skill, old-fashioned wisdom and physical endurance of two veteran fishermen is the welcome exception in an otherwise clumsy, cliche-ridden effort. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Alton Ballance has an appreciation for Ocracoke past, an understanding of Ocracoke present, and a concern for Ocracoke future.

David Stick

Alton Ballance . . . writes with affection and sensitivity about Ocracoke, its history, and the everyday life of its people.

Journal of Southern History

Well written and liberally illustrated with black-and-white photos, Ocracokers is very accessible.

Choice

Vivid and informative.

Carolina Style

Ballance has done a fine job of recording the old before it is gone.

Come-All-Ye

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807842652
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1989
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 271
  • Sales rank: 987,582
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Alton Ballance lives on Ocracoke and is a Fellow at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments

Part One: The Inlet, the Island, the Village
1. A View from the Inlet
2. Settling the Village
3. Shipwrecks, Lighthouses, and Ocean Rescues

Part Two: The Ocracokers
4. The Art of Mulleting
5. A Day Hunting on the Reef
6. The Bryants
7. Taking Care of Our Own
8. Worshipping Together
9. Ocracoke School: One Big Family

Part Three: Building Bridges
10. The National Park Service
11. Battening Down the Hatches
12. World War II at Ocracoke
13. Building Bridges
14. Tourism: The New Economy
15. A Commissioner's View

Afterword
Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2000

    Life on 'the banks' as seen by one who lives there

    What this book gives is insight into the way of life of those that live and die by the sea and sound. It is a step back in time to the days when Ocracoke was a fishing and hunting village, not a vacation destination. It lets you live a few days with the author in a boat on the sound looking for mullets, in a blind in the dead of winter waiting for Canadian Geese, waiting by the pier for the mail boat and the small amount of tourists that made the treck with the mail. An astounding glimps into the heart and soul of Ocracoke. It will definitely make you want to visit, if you haven't already, and meet some of the 'Ocokers'. Enjoy your journey!

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