I lied. Last week I told you that the next book on my TBR was Modoc. A very special title has jumped to the front of the line. My grandparents loaned me a book that belonged to my great grandfather. The book is called the Ash Wednesday Storm and it is written by David Stick. The photography credit goes to Aycock Brown and Walter V Gresham III.
The Outer Banks are where my people are from. Not all of them, but my maternal grandfather’s side. His parent’s beach house survived this storm and many others. It still stands strong in Nags Head. My great grandfather sold it ions ago. They no longer lived in the area and it was becoming an ordeal for an elderly couple to run for the beach and board up the house at the hint of a storm. Do I cry about this? Sometimes. How I would love to still have access to that house. I recently ran up and had my picture taken with the old beach house. To the beau’s relief, I wasn’t arrested for trespassing.
Homes were obviously built better back then. Not only has this baby survived nor’easters and hurricanes, it also survived the move from the mainland, across the sound and to the beach. Let me tell you, this house is hearty!
The book has a rambling feel, which is a comfort because I myself am a rambler. I feel like I’m caught up in a story my grandfather would tell me. There are family names that I recognize, which adds to the sense familiarity.
I cannot imagine living out this storm. The first hand encounters that the author reports are unbelievable. They were expecting a storm, but nothing like this. The nor’easter struck in the dark hours of that morning. Survivors were greeted with things you expect with a coastal storm, like power failure and phone lines down. Can you imagine though, waking up, stepping off your bed and your feet getting wet? Looking out your bedroom window and seeing the waves come crashing? Witnessing your neighbors garage wash down the street?
The community came together and supported one another. People waded to the houses of friends that they knew would need help. A bread delivery man continued on his normal route and left behind all the bread on his truck once he saw the destruction that was occurring. Women and children first was still practiced, and women who refused to leave their dogs behind had their wishes obliged. (Thank goodness! I would have cried!)
If you can get your hands on this book, you should. It has that old feel of storytelling and gives you the experience of the fear and bravery that existed during this storm. It certainly made me proud of my roots.
My great grandmother Emma in the Outer Banks with her daughter Velma. Sometimes I think I see myself in her cheeks or the point of her nose, the sturdiness of her legs. Maybe I’m looking too hard. My genetic imprint from her is my love of sand and saltwater.