Maslin brought in this book the other day…written by Charles Harry Whedbee and first published in 1966. It contains stories and legends of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I thought it would be fun to share one or two with you. This first one is set back in 1933 and is about a married couple, John and Amy Harris. Enjoy “I shall but love thee better after death”
It was September, 1933 and Amy Harris lay dying. She had lived a good life and a long one. Although her marriage had not been blessed with children, it had been one of the most successful on the entire Outer Banks. She and John had been childhood sweethearts and their puppy love had ripened into a deep and satisfying relationship of mutual trust and love and understanding.
One summer day when they were still courting Joh Harris had saved her life. Their fishing obat had sprung a sudden leak and had sunk beneath them. Swimming his ponderous but powerful breast stroke, John has plowed his way to shore and safety with Amy clinging to the back of his shoulders.
This had developed into a sort of family tradition or joke after their marriage. Amy never learned to swim but she often promised her husband that, given the opportunity, she would repay his heroism in kind. On these occassions he would look down into her piquant serious little face, smile and ask her how the world she intended to do such a thing when she could not even swim enough to help herself. Then they would both laugh and hug.
John and Amy settle down and bought their own place near the village of Duck. The fishing was good and just a little more than five miles of Sound separated them from the Currituck Mainland.
In spite of all that doctors could do for her Amy Harris died peacefully in her sleep in September of 1933. Even in the midst of his grief John took some solace from the fact that he had able to look after her to the very end–“in sickness and in health till death do us part.”
One of Amy’s fondest wishes had been that she be laid out by a real undertaker when her time came and that she be buried in a concrete and steel burial vault in the little cemetery in the yaupon grove near their home. John, fulfiling her wish, employed the best mortician he could find in Norfolk, VA and bought a vault and had it shipped down in time for the funeral. Everything ws to be done just as his beloved had wanted it.
All the neighbors agreed that it was a beautiful funeral and that Amy had never looked prettier. If they have found a fault it was that Amy looked so serious! The usual happy smile ws gone from her face and a look of almost studied seriousness had replaced it. That, however, was a minor thing and they all congratulaed John on carrying out Amy’s wishes so completely. The vault was sealed and buried in the sand among the graves of other Harrises and Tates and Midgetts.
On the day of the funeral the attendants were a little nervous. They had just passed though one violent huricane the month before and now the Coast Guard reported a bigger storm was headed towards them. On the the day after the funeral the watch had become a warning and people were heading for the mainland. All morning long they streamed across the bridge to Point Harbo and continued further inland. Meanwhile, the wind steadily increased. By nightfall it had become a full gale and the normally quiet Sound was a mass of whitecaps. It was certain that the full force of the tropical storm would come ashore by dawn of the next day somewhere in the vicinity of Duck.
Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story!