StoryCorps’ East MobileBooth is now in Beaufort, North Carolina, a quaint, beautiful seaside town. We parked the booth at the harbor, where we can look out the window and see wild horses on a nearby island and dolphins entertaining fishermen (I’m not kidding–it’s actually that idyllic here). We are working with Public Radio East to collect the unique stories of locals. Click here to listen to some of the stories we’ve recorded in Beaufort and at the Camp Lejeune Marine base while we’ve been working with the station.
Ira Lewis, 89 (L), and his daughter Margaret Ann Lewis Rose, 67 (R), were our first Beaufort participants. Ira grew up on Harkers Island, a very small island near Beaufort that only recently had a bridge built connecting it to the mainland. The absence of a bridge kept the island completely isolated for hundreds of years, which explains the roots and remnants of what is known as the “High Tider” accent of the islanders, a beautiful combination of Elizabethan English and a slow Southern drawl.
In his interview, Ira referred to the building of the bridge as the “downfall of the island,” because it lead to lots of development and a loss of much of the beach front, which was once owned by fishermen and now belongs to wealthy outsiders. Ira has many wonderful memories of growing up in what felt like one big family, and he knows that no matter how many new people move to the island, “no one can take away our memories.”
Dorothy Guthrie, 96 (L), also from Harkers Island, came in to the booth with her son Heber Guthrie, 57 (R), to talk about her childhood there. The island had no electricity, and the small school was heated by fires built with wood that the school children collected. The island was so isolated when she was a child that she didn’t see her first car until she was a teenager. When the car approached her group of friends, they all jumped and hid in the bushes.