Boats on the ‘Front Line’
I was born and grew up on Harkers Island in the late 1930s and 1940s. During my early years there was no electricity, telephone or even a bridge to the island.
Life was all contained within a half-mile strip of land surrounded by water. I remember after Sunday dinner on December 7, 1941, my father and brothers and I went to Cape Lookout in his boat to set sink nets to fish overnight. When we returned later that evening, my mother was waiting for us at the water’s edge to tell us that President Roosevelt was going to announce to the nation that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. We had no idea where Pearl Harbor was.
World War II was a frightening time for us on Harkers Island. I remember having to cover the windows at night so light couldn’t be seen. We would be awakened at night by the noises from depth charges being dropped on enemy submarines off Cape Lookout shores. Fires lit the sky night after night.
Our boats were our only means for transportation. To get to Beaufort for supplies, we used boats. When we docked at the waterfront, we young boys would scavenge behind the grocery store. We collected the wood from orange crates to build boats we played with along the shore. And we grabbed those old, red rubber tubes to strip for sling shots and rubber pistols. As boys confined to our little world, we made our own toys and lived our Tom Sawyer lives.