On the beach, a wealth of not-very-helpful evidence

On this day in 1906: “Cork life vests began to wash shore between Cape Hatteras and Kinnakeet. During a two-week period, over 400 made their way to Hatteras beaches….  Those that were identified bore the markings ‘Caswitz Rettunysyurcer, G.R.P.’ ‘Sealanan’ and ‘Smeskf.’ Along with the life vests, pieces of unmarked wreckage also washed ashore 3 miles to the north.

“Surfmen believed that because the life preservers washed up in such a short stretch of beach, and because of the large number of life vests, that had a wreck occurred it was most like a passenger ship close to shore. No maritime records corresponded with the names of the life preservers, and because no other traces of a wreck washed ashore, the incident remained a mystery.”

From “On This Day in Outer Banks History” by Sarah Downing (2014)

What puzzling names (?) on the life vests — even Google seems stumped….


What the Secret Service was doing in Barco, N.C.

“The Secret Service visited Currituck County High School in Barco and confiscated a poster created for a civics assignment.

“The student who made the poster wanted to illustrate the right to dissent and took a photograph of his hand in a thumbs-down position next to a photograph of George W. Bush that was affixed to a wall with a red tack through the president’s head. A zealous employee in the Kitty Hawk Walmart photo lab where the film was taken for processing contacted the Kitty Hawk Police Department, which referred the case to the Secret Service. The teacher who assigned the project described the incident as ridiculous.”

— From “On This Day in Outer Banks History” by Sarah Downing (2014)


As hurricane rattled ship, an impromptu jazz concert

On this day in 1933: “En route from Havana to New York, the luxury passenger ship Morro Castle was stranded off Cape Hatteras in a hurricane. The entire orchestra was seasick and the ship’s 140 passengers gathered in the lounge because of water in some cabins.

“Twenty-two-year-old Gwendolyn Taylor of Philadelphia distracted the crowd with piano playing and singing. ‘I thought I ought to do something,’ she later recounted, ‘and the only thing I could do was play. So I played. I sang, too; only cheerful things. I think some of the women wanted to hear hymns, but I thought they needed jazz more.’ ”

— From “On This Day in Outer Banks History” by Sarah Downing (2014)

Being stranded overnight off Hatteras was far from the worst misfortune the Morro Castle would encounter.


Memorabilia collector foiled by observant police

On this day in 1985: A 20-year-old Kill Devil Hills man pleads guilty to 48 counts of misdemeanor theft — of license plates. After receiving numerous complaints from victimized vacationers, police deduced the thief’s quest to collect all 50 states and successfully baited him with a Hawaii plate attached to an unmarked car.

h/t On This Day in Outer Banks History by Sarah Downing (2014)


A flotilla of illicit inner tubes on the Outer Banks

On this day in 1979: “Dare County deputies collected more than two dozen inner tubes filled with between 700 and 1,000 pounds of the drug hashish along area beaches. While the source of the inner tubes was unknown, Drug Enforcement Administration officials estimated the value of the substance at $1,600 a pound…

“Over a three-day period, civilian boaters, a research vessel and law enforcement helicopters aided in the roundup. It was thought to be the largest confiscation of hashish in North Carolina.”

— From “On This Day in Outer Banks History” by Sarah Downing (2014)

Must’ve been quite a scene — especially those helpful “civilian boaters.”