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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Labor Day, by George
              It’s Labor Day, By George

There was a time not so many years ago that Labor Day had some real significance on the Outer Banks because it meant the end of another summer season. The pace of life suddenly slowed and local merchants, store-bound since Memorial Day, would emerge, blinking, into the sunlight, seeking the healing balm of the ocean like newly hatched sea turtles. (Uncle Jack can really wax lyrical when it comes to Labor Day).
After Labor Day the tourists pretty much vanished, taking with them their wallets and credit cards, so there was little incentive to keep stores and restaurants open any longer. The late George Crocker, who more than 40 years ago brought modern concepts of merchandising to the Outer Banks with his futuristic Galleon Esplanade, officially signaled the end of the season with his gala “Gambler’s Sale”, for many years the premier social event of the year for tourists and locals alike.
George would don one of his most flamboyant ensembles and spend the day spinning a huge roulette wheel marked off in segments reading “20% off” up to “50% off” (and even one narrow sliver marked “FREE”). Eager customers would queue to wait for their chance to thrust a slightly shop-worn dress or bathing suit or an imported ceramic likeness of a seashell into George’s hands and watch him spin the wheel that could bring them unheard of savings on the merchandise of their dreams. Only the most cynical observers (Uncle Jack among them) would note that even at 50% off the stuff was overpriced, but who could care when the cheers of hordes of onlookers greeted every spin of the wheel?
Those glorious days are gone forever (along with George and the Galleon) and the arrival of Labor Day on the Outer Banks is about as significant as the advent of Christmas in the bazaars of Abu Dhabi. Half the work force has fled the area to return to schools that opened (against the laws of nature if you ask Uncle Jack) in mid-August forcing exhausted merchants to work even longer hours than before. In a very real sense Labor Day has come to mean “from now on you are really going to have to labor, especially now that more and more entrepreneurs are chasing fewer and fewer dollars."
For the first ten years after he discovered the Outer Banks, Labor Day had an even greater poignancy for Uncle Jack. It meant that it was time to close up the cottage, pack up the car and return to the real world of Pittsburgh where he would be forced to live in a kind of smoky limbo for nine months, struggling to breathe and pining all the while for his beloved Nags Head.
He hasn’t had to do that for over 20 years now and that is the reason why, with all the violence that has been done to the concept of Labor Day (and to the Outer Banks in general) since he moved here, he still considers himself a very lucky old dude.
As far as he is concerned there is no better place in the world to be overworked, and judging from the proliferation of businesses around here, there must be a lot of people who agree with him. Hang in there merchants. With 116 shopping days left (if you stay open seven days a week) you still have a chance to break even before Christmas.


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This piece is one of 100 to be found between the electronic covers of "Uncle Jack's Outer Banks" an Amazon Kindle book. You can learn how to get it by Googling the title. You don't need a Kindle to read it if you have a computer or iPad.

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:32 PM

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Social Notes From the Mainland
       Tired of reading nothing but bad news from all over the world every day? Here's some good news from the Dare County mainland that might cheer you up for a minute or two. It's an excerpt from Uncle Jack's pretty funny Kindle book called "Uncle Jack's Outer Banks".


       Social Notes From the Mainland

Mrs. Carter Fry hosted the Grumpy Harbor Ladies Literary Society at her home on Route 6 last Thursday. Luncheon was served followed by election of officers and a dramatic reading by Mrs. Otho Scramm of selections from the current best-selling novel "Hot Mountain". Mrs. Delmore Wiggett fainted during the reading and had to be rushed to the clinic in Manteo where she remained in intensive care for several hours.

Mr. Carter Fry went to Plymouth on Thursday and has not returned.

Miss LuWanda Crammitt, daughter of Mrs. Opal Crammitt of Clamflats, has a speaking part in a new feature film entitled "Debbie Does Amsterdam," the latest release in the highly acclaimed "Debbie" series of travelogues from Mammary Studios. LuWanda, who is known professionally as Debbie Craven, is employed as a masseuse in Los Angeles, California while pursuing her acting career. She was a l992 graduate of Thassamusketo High School where she was voted "Most Likely To" by the boys of the senior class.

Mr. Albert Zebulon, manager of the Grumpy Harbor 6-l2 convenience store was in Nags Head last week attending an Executive Training Conference at the Ramada Inn. More than 300 managers of 6-l2 stores in the three-county Eastern Swamps Division attended the meeting which focused on helping convenience store managers cope with inflation. Mr. Zebulon attended seminars on "How to Squeeze 50 Extra Cups from Each Pound of Coffee," "Save $$$ by Recycling Used Stirring Sticks" and "Creative Bookkeeping".

Mrs. Estelle Jones went to the HMO in Columbia on Monday to have her corns pared.

Billy Frank Weddle, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Joe Weddle of Drainfield, was home last week on a three-day pass from the East Carolina Correctional Center in Clam Quarter where he recently starred in an inmate production of Verdi's "La Forza del Destino".

Mrs. Greb Fillett and Mrs. Nettie Clayford drove to Norfolk on Wednesday in Mrs. Clayford's new Ford Siesta with optional overdrive. They got 43.6 miles to the gallon according to Mrs. Clayford's daughter Lula who is home on vacation from Central Junior College in Charlotte where she is majoring in long division.


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For more information about Uncle Jack's book just Google "Uncle Jack's Outer Banks" Kindle Edition.

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Uncle Jack's Beach House in beautiful South Nags Head is still available for the first week in September. Close to the beach and very reasonable. Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" or call Cola Vaughan Realty 252-441-1297 for more info.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:48 PM

Comments [3]



Monday, August 4, 2014
Singing the Traffic Blues
Uncle Jack has been reading about the horrible traffic jams on Highway 12 north of Kitty Hawk this summer. What once was a weekend phenomenon now seems to have become an almost daily aggravation for vacationers and locals alike. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has observed the headlong pace of development in the northern beaches over the past 25 years. The same two-lane road that once served a handful of cottages back in the 70's is now carrying the traffic of thousands of dwellings in dozens of developments.
       Uncle Jack has been watching this problem develop for a long time and he remembered writing a column about it 10 or 15 years ago in which he came to a fairly gloomy conclusion about the prospects for improvement. His thinking hasn't changed a bit in the intervening years so here it is again:
      
      
                     Build It and They Will Come

Dear Uncle Jack,
I have been reading a lot about how the people who own all those big houses up in Corolla want the state to build a bridge across from the Currituck County mainland to the Outer Banks. They say it will help to relieve traffic congestion and also help to get people out of there in case of a hurricane. Do you think they ought to build a bridge up there, Uncle Jack?
Lorna Dune
Kitty Hawk
P.S. If they do build that bridge can you think of any way an ordinary person like myself could make a buck out of it?

Dear Lorna,
Uncle Jack is glad you asked him about this because he has been thinking about traffic a lot lately, mostly while waiting to make left turns on the Bypass but other times, too, like the other day when he drove to Norfolk and saw the cars in the southbound lanes of highway 158 backed up bumper-to-bumper from Kitty Hawk all the way back to Grandy.
If you want to know the truth he was a little surprised to see that traffic jam up in Currituck County because he thought it was supposed to be a thing of the past since they made the highway five lanes all the way to Norfolk and doubled the size of the Wright Brothers bridge.
Back in the 70's before he moved here he would have to crawl through the gauntlet of Currituck County pig farms on two-lane highway 158 and creep across Currituck Sound on the old two-lane bridge and he could hardly wait until they widened the road and built the new bridge so he could breeze right on down to Nags Head at a steady 50 mph.
In those days there wasn't even a stoplight at Duck Road because hardly anybody except real estate speculators ever wanted to go up that way because there was nothing up there except huge tracts of empty land from the ocean to the sound.
He knows exactly how those people feel who want a new bridge across the sound up north because it will save them a lot of aggravation, especially on week-ends when the rental houses change over. He can even imagine that for a couple of years after the new bridge opens they will think they have died and gone to heaven before reality sets in again and the southbound traffic to the new bridge starts to back up somewhere near Williamsburg, Virginia. Then the clamor will begin to four-lane the bridge which will take another ten years and eventually bring another brief respite before gridlock sets in again.

Anyway, to answer your question, Uncle Jack thinks they will have to build a bridge across Currituck Sound some day. In the short run it will solve a problem and in the long run compound it, just like every other traffic "improvement" they have made around here in the last 30 years. (Can you believe that in 1970 there was only one stoplight in all of Dare County?)
If you want to know the truth Uncle Jack does not think there is any solution to the traffic problem on the Outer Banks. It will continue to get worse as the years go by and there is not much anybody can do about it except Mother Nature who could decide to wipe the slate clean one of these days.
The bottom line is that if visitors keep coming to the Outer Banks in droves they are going to have to learn to put up with most of the same aggravating problems they came here to escape. And those of us who live here will have to
do the same.
Fatalistically
Uncle Jack

P.S. You don't have to wait for the new bridge to open to make some money. You could go out on highway 158 any Saturday or Sunday afternoon and peddle Prozac car-to-car to the folks who are parked out there waiting to make the left turn up to Duck.


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Some golden weeks in September are still available in Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage in South Nags head. Contact Cola Vaughan Realty for more information. http://www.obxcola.com/

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Uncle Jack's pretty funny collection of 100 columns about one thing or another on the Outer Banks is now available for free download to readers who have signed up for Kindle Unlimited. Otherwise it's only $4.99 and well worth it if you ask Uncle Jack.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:14 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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