Write Again . . . Tales from Manteo

Published 7:02 pm Friday, November 15, 2019

A long time ago, it seems, when my weekly scribblings were carried in close to two dozen papers across the state, I tried not to be too “local” too often.

Then, after a hiatus of many years away from this endeavor, I began it again. Even though the Daily News is my sole purveyor of writing now, I really don’t feel it necessary to keep to the mostly local angle. All of which, quite probably, doesn’t mean a rat’s rump to most who might read these weekly scratchings.

Enough of this too wordy preamble to today’s column. Too much probably.

So. Let me share with you just a smidgen of some memories I have of some folks I came to know during the many years we lived in Manteo, on Roanoke Island, on the Outer Banks.

There was Jimmy. A man of no false pretenses, who was possessed of a sharp wit.

An example. One day when Buster and I were enjoying our running together on the track at Manteo High School, Jimmy drove his truck up to one of the football field lights, to do some sort of work on it.

Observing Buster — oh, I forgot to identify Buster, our beloved Boston Terrier — Jimmy observed: “In order for a man to discipline his dog, he’s got to be smarter than his dog. And it’s obvious your dog ain’t got no discipline.” Why don’t you say what you really think, Jimmy?

Then there was Billy. A true Outer Banker, who ran a fishing boat during the summers, and, get this, taught school as his main vocation.

Billy drove a pickup, chewed tobacco, dearly loved to hunt and fish, the stereotypical seeming Outer Banks good old boy.

But Billy was much more than that. Much more. He was a very good artist, and even included some of his work in an excellent book he wrote about his love for the Outer Banks.

Although he rarely spoke of it, he was a Vietnam veteran. That fact can stand alone.

One day during our lunch break at school, Billy and I were standing outside, looking at my brand new pickup truck. My first ever.

“Bardo,” he said, “I like your truck.”

“Thanks, Billy.”

“But, I got to tell you something.”

“What’s that?”

“You ain’t never gonna be a good old boy,” and with that observation he spat a stream of tobacco juice out on the ground. He was right.

And I will never forget George. A handsome, well-spoken, sharp dressing — something not valued highly among many of the natives — business man.

George was a volunteer coach with me for both girls and boys basketball. The girls loved him, the boys respected him, and I valued both his presence and his friendship. He kept me on an even keel.

In early December, Sally came to Washington to await the much-anticipated arrival of our first born.

My mother called me early on the morning of the 7th, to tell me Sally had gone to the hospital. I immediately alerted the appropriate school person to tell them I wouldn’t be in, and a substitute would be needed, and that George would have to hold both practices for that day.

Fast forward a day, I’m back in Manteo in time for both practices. I thanked George for filling in, and told him I was still in an emotional state.

He said, “I know the feeling. This basketball can really get to you!”

There are many more such stories I could relate. Our time on the Outer Banks will always be very special to us. Very.

I wonder if there are any stories that might be told about me by my friends and former students and athletes who live out there in “the goodliest land under the cope of heaven.”

All of you have yourselves a good weekend, you hear.