Gig Line: Life . . .

Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Life is so precious, you know? Sometimes we take it for granted, sometimes we become complacent – not because we mean to but just because when things are going pretty good for us, we skip through life, then bang! Our frailties and our vulnerability smack us square in the face.

While the primary focus of Gig Line is and always will be veterans, there are times as a writer, that I need to fold in other matters that touch our life and over the last few months, Dare Countians have heard, seen and felt the loss of many in our communities that we love and miss.

In the last Gig Line, I wrote about a class Peggy Snead was teaching again, Grief Share, to help the attendees cope with grief and the loss of someone very dear regardless of the relationship we shared with them. In particular, I spoke about her late husband Mr. Snead and the role he played in life having been a veteran, a loving husband, father and friend and having made us all quake at the sight of him as we entered his Driver’s License Examiners Office . . . eek! After that column was circulated, a gentleman from Currituck called me, introduced himself then went on to explain that he had read Gig Line and that he wanted to call to acknowledge Mr. Snead also. He said that he, a grown man, “felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck” when he took his exam with our iconic Mr. Snead! He agreed that Mr. Snead was a special person in such a neat way but also how very nice a man he was and how he would never be forgotten. How nice was that? That Mr. Snead would be so fondly remembered from someone he hardly knew! It was clear the remarkable impression he made on him, enough to generate a phone call. Nice!

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We’ve fortunately had quite a few icons to appreciate and cherish through the years. Remember “Chops” and “Toe Joe?” I sure do! They are very memorable figures from our childhood. Roy Rogers and Capt. Willie Etheridge and Willie Crain and Doris “Duchess” Walker and on and on it goes . . . incredible people who have touched our lives with humor, kindness and love. Memories of them make us smile and sometimes laugh out of fondness for the unique personalities they had or the funny things they did. Good people. Good, good people.

If you were born in and/or raised in our Outer Banks villages and towns, you can recall many icons like Mr. Snead but if you’re a bit of a newcomer, understand how incredibly blessed you are. This place we live and where we call home encapsulates the heart of America. We have absolutely breathtaking scenery, even on a rainy day or when the fog lifts over the water and that smoky haze draws you in. When you look at the shorelines brushed with marsh grass and cat tails and then the expansive beach with its crisp salt air and dormant treasures found at low tide and when you drive south on the new Marc Basnight Bridge overlooking Oregon Inlet climbing to the top, you think for a minute you’re ascending to Heaven. Sea oats dance on the low dunes that beckon you to pick them (but you’d better not!) and not only the sights but the smells as you ride by our delicious seafood restaurants with the aroma of fried shrimp and yumminess galore, it fills your nostrils. The beautiful sight of our fish houses and trawl boats, long liners and inshore skiffs who set out to catch fresh crabs, fish and shrimp and the men and women prepping their boat for an offshore fishing charter, but folks, heed my warning! Don’t bring any bananas onboard or you might find yourselves overboard! The sights, smells and imagery of the docks with pelicans perched high on the pilings as if keeping watch and cormorants in the back drop eyeing cut bait chum that might be thrown in for easy prey, men and women mending fish nets or crab pots – it’s all so glorious, this place, this magnificent place is inside all of us.

Growing up in Dare County since 1959 where my native Outer Banker daddy was born and raised has been a joy. I love the people, many unfortunately no longer with us but just the same never far from our smiles and our tears. Very recently we lost more icons, George Alexander (that nice man could walk forever and a day!) and Russell Berry, often seen parked at the side at McDonald’s with a load of driftwood in the back of his truck and Timmy Sobotka, a lover of the sea and fishing and his family heritage. Good people, special unforgettable people.

As Outer Bankers, we grieve all our family, friends and community losses. We are close and we love each other a lot. And even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything, especially politics, we are here for each other. We circulate prayer requests when we hear a fellow veteran (and everybody else, too) is sick or undergoing severe health challenges. We start prayer chains and virtually hold hands praying for application of the best possible medical care and treatment; we pray for recovery and complete restoration of good health; we hold fundraisers offering fried fish, barbecue or spaghetti dinners and baked goods to collect money and help the families as they struggle through loss of income and oftentimes long distance travel for specialized medical care.

Across our nation, there are many communities that love each other as well, but I’m addressing ours, the County of Dare on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We are here for each other, no matter the financial status of a person in need, or the origin of their troubles, or their color, creed or religion, we stand together. And folks, if you’re reading this but you don’t live here, by golly, you should!

If you’re blessed to be a member of the Blue Star Mothers of America chapter (here) contact President Pam Buscemi (252) 473-1898; the Outer Banks V.F.W Post 10950 contact: Quartermaster Jim Norrell (252) 489-9421); the American Legion Post 26 contact Commander Michael Lewis (252) 216-5257; the Marine Corps League Outer Banks Detachment contact staff duty phone: (252) 305-4768 and the list goes on . . . a host of countless organizations that care about people and benefit folks who are hurting physically, emotionally and financially. And just a note: if you aren’t currently involved as a member or a volunteer, but perhaps you’d like to make a one-time donation or seek other ways to support these vital groups – please do! These associations and certainly the recipients of the good they do is immeasurable. Get involved and fall madly in love with the good work these folks do for others.

Our breathtaking landscape from the great Atlantic Ocean to our sometimes unpredictable sounds; looking up into the endless sky and feeling the gritty sand and crunch below our feet, but even more than all of that is especially our people to be sure . . . thank you Lord!

Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud. Life is every changing, sometimes hard to understand and difficult to accept; but just the same, life is good and precious. Embrace it. Love each other, hold each other tightly, kiss more often and support our veterans – active duty, retired and please pray for our deployed troops; our law enforcement, firemen/women and our EMS. They have our backs every day – every minute – let’s always have theirs! I love you all and if you wish to write or call me: and cell: (252) 202-2058. God bless you and your families and stay tuned!


Gig Line: Did you watch it again?