Tag Archives: Elizabeth City

quick trip to the coast










We made a quick trip (that seems like an oxymoron since the whole visit seemed quick but the travel there and back seemed quite long) to the coast this past weekend.

The weather was beautiful on Saturday, but a bit chilly.  The children played and splashed in the river, and then begged me to let them go swimming!  Hythe was quite angry with me when I told him that, no, I had not packed his swim suit.  It was hard to convince them that getting in that frigid water on a cool day would quickly make them hypothermic (words, of course, they did not understand!).

We celebrated Anne’s birthday a few times over the weekend since we spent most of her actually day driving.  She loved all the attention and gifts.  And, they all loved playing with their cousin.

Sunday was a cool, cloudy day and we took a ferry over to Knott’s Island on the very northeast corner of NC.  The ferry ride was very cold, but fun for everyone.  On the island, I was impressed with the marshes.  The marsh grass was a golden brown and tall.  Blue water wove in and out of patches of the grass and the whole scene was just beautiful.  We visited a historic duck hunting lodge that is for sale, situated near the edge of the marsh.  The place was very odd, but interesting — so much potential, but so much work for whoever buys it and fixes it up.  The barn has 12 bedrooms in the upper floor!  It reminded me very much of the Whalehead Club on a smaller scale.  What could a place like this be used for now?  Private hunting/fishing lodge or home?  Summer camp?  Retreats?  The property (and buildings) have conservation easements on them.  I love the history of properties and especially the history of northeastern NC, so I enjoyed seeing this little part of history – and the whole trip was a bit of an adventure, even if it did mean that we got home about 3 hours later than I’d hoped!

mind your manners





1812 living room




Our girls (and two of their cousins) spent this past week in Perquimans County at Ms. Nancy’s House Parties for Young Ladies Gentleman, or as we call it “Manners Camp”. This sounds a bit old-fashioned, and it is–in the best way. This camp has a beauty and sweetness about it that reminds me of the best of the South, politeness, hospitality, and sweet tea in summertime.

Ms. Nancy, camp director, is 89 years old and her graciousness, kindness, and talkativeness make her seem vivacious and young–and she has a beautiful Southern accent, darlin’. Ms. Nancy and her young female counselors teach the 14 children who come to spend 4 nights at the beautiful 1812 plantation house about correspondence (the old-fashioned paper kind), setting the table, table and telephone manners, and general politeness. The children also have swim, tennis, and canoe lessons, Bible study, and a flower arranging lesson. They have room inspections every morning and must be “dressed” for supper each night.

They love it!

At the end of camp, Ms. Nancy, the counselors, and the children host a tea for the parents and grandparents. The children all do individual recitations and sing songs as a group. The recitations are sweet (and a little impressive), and I love that my girls know our state toast, a Bible verse, and an etiquette quote by heart.

If you want to see some great videos of the camp, The Southern Documentary Fund produced a documentary about Ms. Nancy and her camp, and you can view clips on their site here and here.

As a side, Ms. Nancy talked a little about the history of her beautiful home on the first day of camp, and it prompted me to do a little family history research while we stayed in Elizabeth City when the girls were at camp. I traced multiple family lines back to the 1660s–all in the small area of northeastern NC. I realized how related everyone (including myself) in the area is to each other by blood or marriage. For so many years, not many families moved in and few families moved out of the region. A distant grandfather actually built Ms. Nancy’s house (and built the one where my great-great grandfather lived in Pasquotank County, and in which William and I lived for about a month). I discovered many Quaker ancestors and learned more of the history of the region where I grew up.

All of this gave me more of an appreciation for the area and people, and how connected to it I am by family and history. I do miss it at times.

found treasures


I am in my hometown with our children for a few days of visiting during spring break. Today, I went to see my grandmother. I really enjoy visiting with her and I think she enjoys having a little of the chaos (and the sweet giggles and silly antics) of my young children around her for a little while.

Nearly each time I visit I discover something of the family or of my grandmothers’ creative history — a picture, a book, sewing patterns, a piece of china. I don’t get the stories about these objects from my grandparents anymore, but I still enjoy finding them.

Today, right on the coffee table, was a thin plastic spiral bound cookbook called “Home Cooking Secrets of Elizabeth City” by the Senior Woman’s Club. The first sentence of this gem of a book states:

“It is the desire of Elizabeth City Women’s Club that this book will be of great value to young brides, as well as providing new ideas for experienced homemakers.”

The cookbook is from the time when a nice salad was either tomato aspic or contained jello. It contains old advertisements for local businesses as well as many homey recipes. Likely the most useful part of the book is the last bit which covers kitchen miscellany from oven temperatures and baking time charts to weights and measurements to ingredient substitutions. There is also a kitchen prayer at the end.

I plan to make a copy of the book this weekend and bring the original back to Mom-mom. I will share any particularly good parts when I come across them.