This was about the time that I started going farther south to Rodanthe when I wanted to enjoy the beach. It was much more reminiscent of my childhood days and with our small three member family, I would rent an efficiency at the motel next to the Rodanthe Pier, the one that washed away later in a hurricane. We only used it to rest and perhaps prepare a sandwich for lunch, and the rest of the time was spent on the beach or visiting on Roanoke Island. It was a great spot to stay on a special fishing trip with friends as well.
Later in the '80's and even early '90's, we would go even farther south to Hatteras Village. My in-laws had a small house near the sound which we used as a base camp for surfcasting trips. Fishing in the ocean off Cape Hatteras Point was always a special treat and with a four-wheel drive Jeep to get there it offered good times for sure. During this timeframe, I also escorted my mother to her seventieth anniversary of graduation from Manteo High School and I delighted in the stories her classmates told me about how my mother was quite the tomboy in high school. It was during that trip that I rented rooms for the night on the oceanfront so that we didn't have to drive back to Newport News in the late hours. On that warm evening, we sat out on the balcony, enjoying the night ocean breeze and the sounds of the ocean as the waves rhythmically came ashore. It was then that my Mom told me that she was glad we came but she also didn't think it was home anymore.
My mind remembered what my Uncle Hal told me when we talked abut the new road shortly after it opened.
He simply said, "Son, they'll do what they are gonna' do."
Every time I would come to the beach in those days, even if I wasn't staying in Nags Head I would always stop by and see Aunt Sylvia. She was now showing her age and missed Uncle Hal who had died, but she always had an encouraging words and an abundance of food and she wouldn't let me go without partaking of one of her special meals. She loved to reminisce about the old days and my childhood and was deeply saddened by the massive change to the beach community she called home since leaving Wanchese. She was like that until her dying day and was one of the sweetest and most faithful of people who ever graced this earth.
Mom's comment told me that she agreed with her older sister and that the beach that she saw was not the one that she remembered. And this is not an indictment of younger generations and their desire to change it to include modern amenities for technical advancement, an active nightlife and more things to be entertained by. It just means tht they have never experienced the simple joys of growing up in a time when one doesn't have to make his or her entertainment to be satisfied. That satisfaction came from a walk on the beach, skimming shells on a quiet ocean or even creating make believe roads in the sand using an old shingle instead of fancy equipment. It's really just as simple as that.
Excepting my recent trip to Nags Head and the beaches this past April, my final trip to the Outer Banks was in July 1991 when I brought Mom and my sister to Aunt Sylvia's funeral. It was a hot day and the church was packed and it touched me deeply, especially the singing of "Jesus Loves Me," which brought me to tears as I remembered her singing that to comfort me late one night in the cottage during a hurricane. And when we left after a special reception and headed home, I knew there was now no reason for me to come back since I agreed with my mom's assessment.
And now, after visiting one more time this past spring, I know that Nags Head and the Outer Banks is a place for someone with different views of a beach than those I hold. Seeing a quaint small family place turned into just another "same old, same old" tourist trip just isn't appealing to me, but I accept the fact that for many it's just fine, so I'll leave it to them. I do hope, however, that enough common sense will prevail sometime in the near future to limit where it goes from here for the fragile banks can only be pushed so far and when that point is surpassed, something massive will take place to counter the trend and that will be done by nature. The sea with its waves and surges and the supporting elements always win in the end. I truly hope that point hasn't already been breached and I'll just pray that it isn't a disaster like what happened back on Oak Island in 1954 or the Great Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 across the Outer Banks. When and if that happens, with all of the added development and throngs of humanity and no infrastructure to deal with it, the Banks will likely be uninhabitable in the future.
If you enjoy savoring the beauty and simplicity of a softer time, you might enjoy my book, "Summers at Old Nags Head". It available at this link, just copy and paste to your browser to learn more about this and my other Nags Head-related book: amazon.com/author/jamesdick.