Topsail Island: Mayberry by the Sea

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Overview

Winner of the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians

Topsail Island is a North Carolina barrier island lying between the Outer Banks and Wilmington. Though 26 miles long, it is but 200 yards wide in places and encompasses only 15 square miles. Residents and visitors call it a stretch of paradise.

Or even "Mayberry."

It's easy to see why. Because of its small land ...

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Overview

Winner of the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians

Topsail Island is a North Carolina barrier island lying between the Outer Banks and Wilmington. Though 26 miles long, it is but 200 yards wide in places and encompasses only 15 square miles. Residents and visitors call it a stretch of paradise.

Or even "Mayberry."

It's easy to see why. Because of its small land area, Topsail has not been subject to the massive development of island communities like Nags Head to the north and Wrightsville Beach to the south. Indeed, it remains largely in the idyllic state those places knew half a century ago—a small beach town with few commercial trappings, a family haven whose devotees return generation after generation, a paradise where it's possible to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and set over Topsail Sound from the same cottage.

But Topsail's outward simplicity belies its rich history and complex future. The island's name? It may have been born when the pirate Blackbeard hid his ship behind the island, lying in wait. Those strange blocklike towers spaced along the beach? Remnants of a top-secret missile program. The modest old-time cottages with the whimsical nameplates? They've survived some of the worst storms Mother Nature has devised, only to see their owners tempted by developers offering big money for the land on which they sit.

Then there are the giant sea turtles, the Gold Hole, and even a traveling bear. In Topsail Island: Mayberry by the Sea, author Ray McAllister tells the many stories of Topsail with the help of those who love the island best.

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Editorial Reviews

The Charlotte Observer
"McAllister...takes loving and telling recollections of Topsail—his and others'—and mixes in history and vacation tips. . . . A worthy companion to take on your trip to the coast."
Topsail Magazine
"An entertaining book blending current-day interviews with a dollop of island history."
The Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Ray's probably in trouble with [those who want to keep Topsail secret], but not with those of us unfamiliar with Topsail's allure, though both groups will like this book."
The Pender Post
"A great read for a day in the sun that stretches into an island night, complete with pounding waves and soft sea breezes, enhanced by mystical tales of pirates and search for buried treasure...'Everybody needs a little sand in their soul,' McAllister quotes from an interview. Topsail Island: Mayberry by the Sea helps put it there and can make the reader who is not on the island want to cross that swing bridge and experience that little bit of magic."
Our State [North Carolina] magazine
"McAllister captures the spirit of Topsail Island...There's no doubt that this island is magical indeed."
WAAV-AM News Talk Radio (Wilmington)
"Fascinating stories and tales...[in] a beautiful book."

--Named Book of the Month

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895873316
  • Publisher: Blair, John F. Publisher
  • Publication date: 6/28/2006
  • Series: The McAllister Coastal Collection
  • Pages: 228
  • Sales rank: 943,562
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Ray McAllister was a columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch from 1988 through 2007 and a newspaper reporter for 14 years before that. His only book had been published in 1995, a collection of mostly humor columns entitled Reflections: Objects in Mirror Appear Backwards, But Maybe It's Me.

But a column he wrote in August 2005 about a small island in North Carolina and the reader response to it led to an acclaimed book, Topsail Island: Mayberry By The Sea, in 2006. Another island book, Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island, followed in 2007 and Ray gave up the day job in late 2007 to write books. His latest book is Hatteras Island: Keeper of the Outer Banks.

He is now at work on more island books, a Virginia book and at least one novel. He is also the editor of Boomer Life magazine.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 14, 2009

    A must read for those who have been there and those who want to go

    I have been going to this island for years on vacation and have been unable to put into words for family and friends what a special place this is and Mr. McAllister has been able to put into words the feelings my husband and I have for this special place.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    ¿Fascinating stories and tales . . . [in] a beautiful book.¿ ¿Na

    “Fascinating stories and tales . . . [in] a beautiful book.”
    —Named Book of the Month, WAAV-AM News Talk Radio, Wilmington

    “McAllister . . . takes loving and telling recollections of Topsail—his and others’—and mixes in history and vacation tips. . . . A worthy companion to take on your trip to the coast.”
    —The Charlotte Observer

    “An entertaining book blending current-day interviews with a dollop of island history.”
    —Topsail Magazine

    “Ray’s probably in trouble with [those who want to keep Topsail secret], but not with those of us unfamiliar with Topsail’s allure, though both groups will like this book.”
    —The Richmond Times-Dispatch

    “A great read for a day in the sun that stretches into an island night, complete with pounding waves and soft sea breezes, enhanced by mystical tales of pirates and search for buried treasure. . . . ‘Everybody needs a little sand in their soul,’ McAllister quotes from an interview. Topsail Island: Mayberry by the Sea helps put it there and can make the reader who is not on the island want to cross that swing bridge and experience that little bit of magic.”
    —The Pender Post

    “McAllister captures the spirit of Topsail Island. . . . There’s no doubt that this island is magical indeed.”
    —Our State [North Carolina] magazine

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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