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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Yucky Sunday in Sonag, November 30, 2008

 


     Saturday, the penultimate day of November, was pretty much a washout for beach lovers and even the hardiest of fishermen.  A kind of mini-northeaster developed early in the morning, making what little of the South Nags Head beach that was still accessible quite inhospitable.  Merchants rejoiced while Uncle Jack stayed in and read the marvelous new book by Sarah Downing called “Vintage Outer Banks, Shifting Sands and Bygone Beaches”. 


      From now on no Outer Banks library can be considered complete without this delightful and fascinating collection of pictures of the area as it was in the two or three decades following WWII. This was the Nags Head Uncle Jack fell in love with forty years ago (it’s all gone now) and he is happy to be able to relive those days through the pages of this wonderful book.  He cannot imagine a better “stocking stuffer” for any Outer Banks lover who is nostalgic for the “old days” before big money moved in and turned everything upside down. The book made its debut at Manteo Booksellers yesterday and Steve has lots of copies so go for it.  It’s a winner.


     The weather miseries of yesterday have continued into today which, except for the steady drizzle, will make it less painful for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. to pack up the Mini again and head north to Baltimore tomorrow morning.  They will be spending the winter there, partly as grandparents-in-residence for the adorable Sabatino sisters, Isabella and Sophia, and their brand new baby brother, Michael, who arrived last week. They are looking forward to exploring the cultural offerings of this historic city from their temporary perch in a high-rise apartment building on the edge of the Johns Hopkins campus. 


      If you have any interest whatsoever in Baltimore look for Uncle Jack’s next blog entry toward the end of the week when he hopes he will be connected again to the World Wide Web.  Ciao, as they say in Baltimore’s Little Italy. 




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Looks funny without Jennette's Pier, even in its truncated version, after 80 years or so at Whalebone Junction. Will the Comfort Inn South make it to 80?

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Dunes come in all shapes and sizes these days.

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Now you see 'em, now you don't. Is the camouflage uglier than the bags? You decide.

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More of those funny looking dunes protecting the Ocean Palms condo.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:20 AM

Comments [8]



Friday, November 28, 2008
Black Friday, November 28, 2008

     Mother Nature shined her beneficent face upon the Outer Banks yesterday in what might have been an effort to atone for some of her earlier nastiness that sent houses crashing into the sea and washed away vast amounts of sand from already ravaged beaches. Weatherwise Thanksgiving Day was so perfect as to make one forget, however briefly,  the sturm und drang (Uncle Jack is showing off his erudition now---he didn’t finish high school for nothing) of our current economic mess.  There is nothing like a long walk on the beach in South Nags Head to banish trouble from the mind unless, of course, you happen to be a beachfront property owner.


     For Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. it was a well nigh flawless day; the aforementioned stroll on the beach followed by an excellent Thanksgiving feast at the Penguin Isle, followed by a lengthy nap, a challenging episode of Jeopardy, successful completion of the extremely difficult acrostic puzzle from last Sunday’s New York Times, a bowl of popcorn which broke no teeth, and then to bed with visions of oysters swirling in their heads (and stomachs).


    They decided not to join the throng (?) of shoppers who descended on the Tanger Mall when the stores opened at midnight last night. They were haunted by scenes from George Romero’s classic “Night of the Living Dead” in which scores of zombies lurched around a mall in Pittsburgh looking for bargains so many years ago.  For crotchety old Uncle Jack there is something profoundly sick about the concept of shopping in the wee hours of the morning (and forcing employees to participate in the ghoulish business). 


     Needless to say Uncle Jack did not bound out of bed at 6:30 to photograph this morning's sunrise for which he apologizes.  As it happens the sunrise didn’t amount to much anyway as clouds have moved in to blanket the sky.  Black Friday is upon us.


     



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This is the kind of day it was.

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Lots of folks milling around yesterday but plenty of room for more, even on South Nags Head's battered beaches.

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Even the Outer Banks pier drew a crowd.

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Uncle Jack's old friend Pat Preston is a rarity on the Outer Banks---a fisherman who catches fish. Mrs. U.J. will be cooking one of these pretty speckles for dinner tonight.

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Chez Schneck has survived a few more northeasters but the steps need a little work.

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These, on the other hand, need a lot of work.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:24 AM

Comments [4]



Thursday, November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving sunrise in Sonag, November 27, 2008

    It's a beautiful morning in South Nags Head and for the first time since he got here Uncle Jack was able to take a picture of the sunrise.  He also made a short video which you can see by going to YouTube and typing "Thanksgiving sunrise in South Nags Head" into the search bar. Enjoy!


         The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving


   Thanksgiving has always been Uncle Jack's favorite holiday. Christmas is o.k. but there are always too many things for everybody to worry about at Christmas. When you are little you
worry about what you are going to get for Christmas and then when you are older you wonder what to get for the kids.
   The only person Uncle Jack ever knew who really likedChristmas was his Uncle George who always bought presents that he knew he would like to use himself when Christmas was over.
   Every Christmas he would give his wife a subscription to Field and Stream or a new outboard motor or something like that.
Once he gave Uncle Jack's grandmother a 20-gauge shotgun for Christmas when she was 75 years old. That was the Christmas Aunt Louise, who was Uncle George's wife, locked herself in
the bedroom and didn't come out for three days.
   Anyway with New Years coming so soon after Christmas the whole thing goes on too long and everybody winds up yelling at everybody just like on those TV family sitcoms.
   Thanksgiving is much more fun. There is a lot less to worry about so you can really concentrate on what is important and what is important is Thanksgiving Dinner. As far as Uncle Jack
is concerned Thanksgiving Dinner is the most important meal of the whole year. He approaches his annual date with the turkey with the same ardor that he might have felt about an assignation
with Marilyn Monroe when he was younger. Much younger.
   When it comes to Thanksgiving Dinner Uncle Jack is hopelessly traditional. Roast turkey with sage dressing, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, peas, and pumpkin pie with
Dream Whip. That is what the Pilgrims ate and that is what Uncle Jack wants to eat.
   He has to admit that maybe an oyster on the half shell (or ten or twenty) isn't bad before Thanksgiving Dinner but he never
thinks of it as part of the meal itself, because when Uncle Jack was a kid and formed all his ideas about what Thanksgiving Dinner should be, he wouldn't touch a raw oyster with a ten-foot pole.
   Also if some misguided but well-meaning person should attempt to slip a baked rockfish stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat onto
the table Uncle Jack is not the kind of fool who is going to make a big fuss about it.
   After he gets through eating, which doesn't seem to take as long any more as it used to, Uncle Jack's children drag him to the couch in the living room and prop him up with his head pointing toward the television so that when he comes to he will
be able to watch the football games.
   Uncle Jack has never been able to find any proof that the Pilgrims watched football on TV after Thanksgiving Dinner but he is pretty sure that is what they would have done. The men anyway.
   Uncle Jack knows from personal experience that football on TV on Thanksgiving Day can cause problems. Some people think it is really dumb to lie on the couch and watch football games
when you could be doing something else like getting in the car and driving someplace or going for a walk on the beach.
   Most of the people who think this way, Uncle Jack has noticed, are wives and girl friends of men who are perfectly happy to sit quietly in a kind of stupor and watch three or four football
games in a row until they get hungry again and go out to the kitchen to make a turkey sandwich with cold dressing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce on Wonder Bread.
   Usually these wives and girl friends are always having to jump up during Thanksgiving Dinner to get more mashed potatoes or warm up the gravy or cut the pie or put the Dream Whip in
the blender so they never really have a chance to eat themselves into a coma the way you are supposed to on Thanksgiving.
   This is why they still want to "do something" even after they finish washing the dishes and scrubbing the pots and cramming all the leftovers into the refrigerator somehow. Uncle Jack knows exactly how they feel and he would like to
be able to "do something" too, but he just can't move for several hours after Thanksgiving Dinner.
  Anyway he hopes that all the wives and girl friends who want to do something after Thanksgiving Dinner will get to do whatever
it is they want to do and he hopes they will let their husbands and boy friends watch all the football they want to without nagging them. 
   Then they will all have something to be thankful for.



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6:55 a.m. Watch the YouTube video to see the sun top the horizon.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:06 AM

Comments [6]



Monday, November 24, 2008
Ramblin' wreck, Tuesday November 24, 2008

    Uncle Jack doesn't get a cold very often but when he does it lays him low for a few days, hence the dearth of weblog entries this week. He hasn't been able to get out to the cold, windy beach to take pictures and he has barely had the energy to take his Nyquil so he hasn't written anything either.  To compound the misery one of his teeth fell apart so he will be seeing Dr. Ausband first thing in the morning.  What is it like to cough your way through a lengthy and complicated dental procedure?  Stay tuned.



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Preparing for the next round of northeasters.

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For the first time in days it was warm enough this afternoon for a few folks to venture out on to the beach.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:17 PM

Comments [9]



Friday, November 21, 2008
Snownag, Friday November 22, 2008
    

       After six months without a TV in Camden Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. had almost forgotten what they were missing.  Now that they are home again and the NBA season has begun they have been forced to re-acquaint themselves with the dark side of commercial TV---namely the commercials.  Thanks to their rapid and frequent deployment of that engineering marvel of our age---the mute switch---they have escaped serious brain damage so far but even  noiseless advertising can be distressing.


      Perhaps the most frightening commercials are those for the various genres of fast food---Double Whoppers, IHOP pancakes smothered in whipped cream and sugary syrup, deep-fried chicken parts arrayed on mountainous beds of french fries, giant tacos oozing sour cream and cheese---all accompanied by huge containers of sugary liquids of one kind or another.  For a virtuous person like Uncle Jack who, except for an occasional guilt-ridden Wendy’s bacon cheeseburger, eats only healthy foods like organically grown vegetables, greens, fruits and whole grain cereals, these commercials are truly sickening.


      Millions of Americans are subjected every day to a relentless barrage of ads like these designed to entice them to eat this awful stuff (and to wash it down with lots of beer) and the unfortunate results are visible everywhere---but nowhere more shockingly than in hospitals.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. went to Duke Medical Center for their annual check-ups earlier this week and they were astonished by the number of grossly fat people waddling the halls of that esteemed institution---both patients and staff.


     Something needs to be done to help people understand that they are killing themselves with the food they eat but just how difficult this will be is apparent when large numbers of folks who spend their working days in the pro-health environment of a major medical center seem to be oblivious (or impervious) to the information surrounding them.  The purveyors of bad food are obviously winning the hearts, minds and stomachs of too many Americans and Uncle Jack thinks those relentless TV commercials probably have a lot to do with it. 


      What can be done about it is another question.  It was relatively easy to ban tobacco advertising from TV because of the overwhelming scientific evidence that smoking was deadly. It would be much harder to make the case that a Big Mac is just as lethal as a cigarette so it seems likely that fast-food commercials will be with us for a long time.  It’s too bad because it can’t be much fun to have to haul an extra 50 or 100 pounds of fat around with you everywhere you go.  (Something else for our new president to worry about as if he doesn’t have enough on his plate already).


      It has been too cold and windy for Uncle Jack, who has been fighting a cold, to get out on the beach the last couple of days which is why he has been sitting around the house thinking morbid thoughts about obesity.  Today doesn’t look any better (in fact it’s snowing at the moment) so he will probably start reading the new Garrison Keillor opus Mrs. U.J. gave him to cheer him up.  It’s about a supposedly Norwegian pillar of Lake Wobegon society who through DNA testing discovers that he is more than half Spanish.  Stay tuned for a book report in a couple of days.                                                                                                           



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Sunset Thursday night.

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Angry ocean Thursday.

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Ditto. The bulldozer is poised to resume its Sysiphean activities as soon the ocean calms down enough.

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Sunrise Friday morning. It wasn't very exciting but it beat this morning's dark clouds.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:07 AM

Comments [14]



Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sandbagging the CRC, Thursday November 19, 2008

   Uncle Jack will be back with a proper blog entry later but in the meantime here's the explanation for why all those ugly sandbags in South Nags Head are still in place more than six months after the CRC ordered them removed.


     Who was it that said "Kill all the lawyers"?


Without signatures, CRC can't force sandbag removal



Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 7:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 8:14 p.m.


Morehead City | This week’s meeting of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission was expected to be dominated by sandbags.



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Erosion along the north part of Figure Eight Island is a growing concern as recent storms has scoured away sand well behind the wall of sandbags. Some of the isalnds sandbags have been on the beach for many years.

Staff Photo | PAUL STEPHEN



Officials had geared up for a slew of petitions from worried and angry oceanfront property owners asking for more time to keep their sandbags in place, even setting aside six hours of meeting time for the expected flood of extension requests.


But Wednesday there were only two hearings, and neither dealt with longstanding sandbag structures that coastal regulators had ordered removed.


So what happened?


Call it either petty foot-dragging by the property owners or smart legal advice from their attorneys.


In September, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management sent out violation letters to roughly 20 property owners, almost all on the Outer Banks, whose sandbags have been deemed the worst offenders along the coast due to their size and time on the beach.


But only three of the property owners have accepted the state’s violation letters, which were sent by certified mail.


That means that technically the rest haven’t been notified that their sandbags are in violation of state law, said Michele Walker, spokeswoman with the N.C. Division of Coastal Management.


So coastal officials are now in a holding pattern, mulling whether to get law enforcement personnel to serve the property owners or to work with their attorneys – the very ones advising their clients not to take the state’s letters.


“It’s a bit frustrating,” said Coastal Management Director Jim Gregson, noting the inherent problem of trying to serve out-of-state property owners.


All told, coastal regulators have determined that nearly 150 of the roughly 350 sandbag structures along the North Carolina coast have outlived their permitted lifespan, which was generally five years.


Under state law, sandbags are supposed to be temporary erosion-control structures until a more permanent fix – such a beach nourishment project or relocating threatened structures – can be developed.


But the CRC has historically been reluctant to force people to pull their bags out.


The commission had granted numerous extensions for most of the state’s sandbags as coastal communities have pleaded for more time after hurricane strikes or to develop nourishment projects.


That stance, however, began to change two years ago as sandbag walls in many places grew in size and length and impeded the public’s access and enjoyment of the beach, which is considered public property in North Carolina.


But the push to get the first wave of bags off the beach appears – at least temporarily – to have ground to a halt, sandbagged by the lack of a signature for a piece of mail.


Gareth McGrath: 343-2384


gareth.mcgrath@starnewsonline.com










posted by Uncle Jack at 7:53 AM

Comments [5]



Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunrise (hooray) in Sonag, Monday November 17, 2008

   Sunrise in Sonag at last.  It wasn’t spectacular but it was a welcome change after six months of sunrises over Camden Harbor. Uncle Jack can tell you it was cold out on the beach at 6:15 when he took the first picture and he is not ashamed to confess that he took the second one from the comfort of his back porch.  It’s time to break out his winter clothes if he is going to keep up this early morning foolishness.


    The ferocious north wind of yesterday morning died down a bit in the afternoon, permitting another beach walk---this time south from James street.  He and Mrs. U.J. strolled about a mile down to the former Surfside Drive area (Surfside Drive itself gradually succumbed to the elements over the past few years in spite of heroic and costly efforts by the town to save it).  Except for the detritus of sandbags poking up through the sand it is one of the prettiest and widest sections of beach in South Nags Head at this point.


     When Uncle Jack left for Camden last May he was under the impression that serious efforts were about to be made to remove some of the uglier sandbag accretions in Sonag.  Something must have gone wrong somewhere because he could see no evidence of sandbag removal anywhere except where Mother Nature had done the job herself.  As the pictures show this part of the beach has reached a state of supreme unsightliness.  It might be time for the Visitors Bureau to start advertising the mess in South Nags Head as a tourist attraction in its own right.  Why spend thousands to visit the ruins of Macchu Picchu when you can ogle the disaster that is Sonag for a fraction of the cost during the off season.


     It’s another sunny day on the Outer Banks and when it warms up a bit Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. will resume their explorations.  Stay tuned.


 


P.S.  They have to go out of town tomorrow but he should be back with another blog entry Thursday.



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6:15 Monday morning.

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About a half-hour later.

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Sunday afternoon late. Low tide and lots of beach at the 19 milepost.

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Another bridge to nowhere.

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Is it Uncle Jack's aging eyes or is this house slightly out of plumb?

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Time to bury that sucker again.

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On the brink.

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Sigh.

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Mother Nature did an end run around these bags.

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He may not catch a fish but it's a nice way to pass the time anyway.

posted by Uncle Jack at 1:44 PM

Comments [6]



Sunday, November 16, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Sunday November 15, 2008

     Uncle Jack regrets to report that his long awaited “sunrise in Sonag” will have to wait another day.  He got up in plenty of time and he walked to the beach with his trusty Sony Cyber-Shot, battery pulsing with energy, but it was not to be.  Yesterday’s nasty weather system had moved out over the ocean where it totally obscured the sun this morning at the appointed hour of rising. Needless to say he was disappointed but like Scarlett O’Hara he will try again tomorrow.


     The rain stopped briefly yesterday afternoon so he and Mrs. U.J. embarked upon a stroll up the beach from James street at the 19 milepost north toward the Outer Banks pier. Lucky for them they were forced to turn around before they reached the pier (see picture) or they would have been drenched in a cloudburst that came out of nowhere moments after they reached home.


      He can confirm that the beach in South Nags Head is a mess right now.  The recent northeasters appear to have pushed the dune line back another 5 to 10 feet and in the process trashed a lot of stairways and uncovered the scattered remains of former oceanfront structures.  They will do some more exploring today to see what Mother Nature has wrought while they were away. Stay tuned.



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6:45 a.m.

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Ditto. Looking south.

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This house on James St. lost most of its driveway again for about the fifth time since Isabel.

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It looked like this four years ago. Mother Nature is relentless.

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Tons of trash have been heaped into piles which hopefully will be removed before the next northeaster.

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Creative plumbing.

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Will it collapse before it gets torn down or removed?

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At least it's condemned (and has been for several years).

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This was as far as we could get yesterday. A rescue vehicle would have the same problem presumably.

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Roots.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:52 AM

Comments [8]



Friday, November 14, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Friday October 14, 2008

     Uncle Jack is happy to report that he and Mrs. U.J. have arrived safely in South Nags Head after a harrowing four-day trip from Camden which included three days of driving in the rain, a near collision with a deer in the mountains of Vermont and another near collision with a wandering toll booth attendant somewhere in New York state. The Mini performed magnificently throughout and turned 60,000 while traversing the swamps of mainland Dare County last night.


      The only bright spot in Nags Head so far was Sam and Omie's where they scoffed a couple of oyster sandwiches upon arrival last night.  It has been raining ever since they got here and there was not even a remote chance of a sunrise this morning.  Another day exactly like this one is predicted for tomorrow so a fresh sunrise picture will have to wait until Sunday morning (as will their first walk on the beach).


    In the meantime it's off to Harris Teeter, the bank, the post office, etc.  Perhaps tomorrow Uncle Jack will have time to do a proper blog.  It's good to be back home, even in the rain.


   


    


      


    



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For Ed in NY, a final progress report on the new restaurant on Sharp's Wharf. They will have it closed in before the first snowfall for sure.

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At the literary festival Ruth Reichl, editor of Gourmet magazine and former New York Times restaurant reviewer, holds forth. Molly O'Nell, food writer for the Times, (at right)is either listening carefully or dozing off.

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The bar at the Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA where we dined Tuesday evening. Victory is King of the Brew Pubs in the Philadelphia area. Great beer.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:02 AM

Comments [18]



Thursday, November 6, 2008
Progress is perceptible, Friday November 7, 2008

     Barack Obama’s stunning victory on Tuesday has left Uncle Jack, well, stunned.  Little did he think a black person could be elected President of the United States in his lifetime and now it has happened, several years (he hopes) before his demise. It’s amazing when he stops to think about it.


     Just fifty years ago he was teaching seventh grade in a small public elementary school in Louisa County, Virginia. The Virginia public schools were racially segregated at that time and the state and local governments were striving mightily to keep them that way.  Three years after the Supreme Court had declared segregated schools to be inherently unequal, Virginia politicians (and most of their constituents) were mounting a delaying action called “Massive Resistance” which proclaimed the viability and constitutionality of “separate but equal” schools for black and white children.


      “Separate but equal” was the rallying cry of the segregationists, i.e. most white Virginians of the time, but it was not hard for Uncle Jack to see what a sham (and shame) that was.  He saw it every day in Louisa County when he went to work at Green Springs Elementary School, a well-built, well-kept (by Jim, the black janitor) brick building with central heating, indoor toilets, an auditorium, a cafeteria, a softball field and basketball court and a lovely front lawn complete with flagpole and American flag.  It was, of course, the school for white children in the western part of the county.


      Down the road about a half-mile stood the “separate but equal” school for black children, a rickety four-room wooden structure with peeling paint, potbellied stoves in each room, outdoor privies, set in a weed-filled yard with no amenities other than a sagging volleyball net. Separate for sure, but hardly equal.


      Uncle Jack had many other opportunities to witness first hand the depth of racial animosity in Virginia while he did his graduate work at the university in Charlottesville from 1955 to 1962.  Like the good pinko liberal that he is he joined an organization called the Charlottesville Human Relations Council, a group of do-gooders who were trying to break down racial barriers in education, employment, housing and elsewhere.  One of the most unforgettable moments of his life came one evening in 1960 when he and his compatriots emerged from a meeting at the Unitarian Church to find a large cross burning on the lawn.


      Needless to say he was somewhat astonished when just 30 years later, in 1990, Virginians elected the first black governor in American history.  And then, less than 20 years after that breakthrough, Virginians helped to elect our first black president.  Progress on the racial front often seems glacially slow to an impatient pinko liberal like Uncle Jack (and even more so to black people) but he has to say that even though he doesn't hear very well any more "President Obama" has a very nice ring to it.


 


      And on that happy note he will take this opportunity to announce that this will be his last blog until he gets back to Nags Head around the middle of November.  Between the literary festival, packing for the trip home, and the trip itself he will have little or no opportunity to write.  Watch for a Sonag Sunrise in about ten days.


     Ciao.


posted by Uncle Jack at 6:46 PM

Comments [26]



Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Sunrise (and more) in Camden, Wednesday November 5, 2008

     It's 6:30 a.m. and Uncle Jack still doesn't know how President-elect Obama fared in North Carolina but it really doesn't matter at this point so he will wait patiently for news of the final outcome. He was infuriated and disgusted to learn a few days ago that his absentee ballot would probably not be counted because he checked the "straight Democratic" box without also ticking the "Obama for President" box as required by state law.  Nowhere on the ballot were voters told about this strange requirement so he would guess that many other North Carolina voters, Democrat and Republican alike, made the same mistake.  If the election had hinged in the end on how North Carolina went this boo-boo by  N.C. election officials could have achieved greater notoriety than Florida's "hanging chads" of eight years ago.


     All's well that ends well , though, and no amount of incompetence or chicanery in any state could keep Barack Obama from his historic and richly deserved triumph.  The voters of Knox County, Maine wherein Camden lies were solidly behind him.  Every precinct in the county including Camden chose Obama over McCain---in most cases by wide margins---as did Maine voters as a whole.  Uncle Jack felt right at home up here yesterday, surrounded by all those right-thinking lefties.


     He offers his condolences to all those readers who were disappointed by the outcome.  Now you have some idea how the rest of us felt in 2000 and 2004. Do not despair, though. Surely  Ms. Palin will be able to turn things around for you in 2012 with Joe the Plumber as her Veep.


    



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5:45 this morning. The sun never did come out from behind those thick clouds.

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Yesterday morning at 5:45.

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And a half hour later. Turned out to be a gorgeous day for the election.

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The Mid-Coast Solid Waste Disposal Facility is in for a couple of busy days as thousands of political signs like these find their way to the dumpsters.

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Oh what a tangled web we weave.... In a few days Uncle Jack will have to untangle this mess and wrestle it into the Mini. (Three computers, two printers, two speakers, a router, and a Vonage phone set-up with all their associated wires). Aargh.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:38 AM

Comments [16]



Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Monday November 3, 2008

     November has made a grand entrance in mid-coast Maine with three chilly but sunny days in a row.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. spent most of the weekend walking around Camden and admiring the fall foliage.  They did go inside long enough to listen to a marvelous concert by a pianist named Max Levinson at the Rockport Opera House yesterday afternoon.  Mr. Levinson is a world-class recitalist and probably never would have played here except for a local connection so they felt uncommonly lucky to be able to hear him. In addition to pieces by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev he played one of Uncle Jack's favorites---Moussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition"---which brought a standing ovation from the capacity audience.


    What a weekend. (Which happens to be our penultimate weekend in Camden for this year).



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5:45 a.m. Monday

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6:15

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The owners gave up on trying to remove these rocks from their front yard.

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Every house should have a tree and swing like this.

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This tree is exhibiting some signs of male pattern baldness but it still looks good.

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Uncle Jack missed the raising of the giant 40' wooden beams at the new restaurant. A workman said they were shipped to Bangor, Maine from British Columbia by train and then trucked to the site.

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How much is that cabbage in the window?

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It's an amazing coincidence but Fannie...

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and Freddie are interred side-by-side in Bayview Cemetery in Rockport. A harbinger of things to come.

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A last minute reminder to the undecided, with apologies to any diehard Republicans who are still reading Uncle Jack's blog after all this.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:07 PM

Comments [8]



Saturday, November 1, 2008
Sunrise in Camden, Saturday November 1, 2008

    The Farmers' Market closed for the season last Saturday so Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are somewhat at a loss as to what to do this morning.  Their weekly trip to the market has been one of the delights of their long stay in Camden this summer and a forced trek to the local Hannaford's supermarket this morning will be a major letdown.  Knowing that the veggies on display have probably spent the better part of a week en route from California or Chile and are coated with all manner of pesticides is offputting after months of ingesting healthy, organically grown, local produce.  Sigh.


      Uncle Jack is still immersed in the excellent biography of Andrew Jackson he started a few days ago.  He has reached the point where Jackson, whose popularity among the "common people", the Joe Sixpacks (or plumbers) of the day was such that he could not resist their demands that he run for president.  He did so in 1824 and won a clear majority of the popular vote but the electoral college chose John Quincy Adams instead in a scenario reminiscent of the Bush-Gore fiasco of 2000..


     Jackson's supporters were outraged and immediately began preparing for the election of 1828 and set in motion what the author described as the longest, nastiest presidential campaign in the history of the Republic.  Jackson's opponents unleashed a torrent of vilification against Jackson himself but also against his wife, Rachel, who was  described in some of the newspapers of the time as an adultress, a whore and "a dirty, black wench".


     The tsunami of invective was insufficient to keep Jackson out of the White House but it did take a heavy toll on the President's family.  A day or two before they were to leave for Washington for the inauguration Jackson's beloved Rachel succumbed to a heart attack.  For the rest of his life he blamed himself for her premature death even though it was apparent that his political opponents were the real villains. Karl Rove was a wimp compared to the Federalist hatchet men.


      Jackson's unwashed, unlettered and unsophisticated supporters trashed the White House during the inaugural festivities which got his presidency off to a great start.  Uncle Jack can hardly wait to find out what happens next.



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6:30 a.m. Saturday

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7:15. Tomorrow the sun will rise at 6:15. Will Uncle Jack be up to see it? Stay tuned.

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Builders of the new waterfront restaurant are working at a feverish pace to get it closed in before the snow flies.

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Spotted on Elm Street yesterday---another yellow Mini. Too bad it's not mating season.

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This big stinkpot must have been lost. It came in late yesterday morning and left early this morning. Most of these overgrown bathtub toys are in Florida by now.

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Camden is full of houses like this. The builders didn't seem to know where to stop.

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Here's another one.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:11 AM

Comments [4]




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Uncle Jack lived in Nags Head for 35 years before he moved to Baltimore a couple of years ago. He still has a house in South Nags Head which he and Mrs. U.J. visit every chance they get.
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