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Old Gray House Gifts and Shells 

Thanks for coming outside to visit with me. I would like to start by providing you with a brief history of the old house. If you will step back, and look up, you will get a view of the old tin roof. Now this roof is not the original roof but it has been there for all of my 80 some years. I stopped counting age at 80. The original roof was rough wood shakes. This is evidence from all the nails you see when you look at it inside. This is a very old house and it has housed three families the last being my grandparents. The first Gray to live in it was Etta Gray from Buxton who married a Barnette from Currituck. He had the distinction of living to be known as the oldest living Civil War Veteran in Currituck County, NC. See the V in the metal on the old roof. That is where the original kitchen and porch were attached to the house before a storm twisted and destroyed it. It was constructed from scraps off the beach and rough cut timbers from the Buxton Woods. If you where to crawl under the house you would see that it originally sat on stumps cut from the Buxton Woods. You would also notice that there are two different sections which are evident by the logs that were used as flooring beams. One section is rounded logs with the top cut flat and the other is logs that have been squared off with the hatched marks showing. The siding you see on three sides of the house is not original. It was put there by Kendrick Gray who took it off of the old Walter Barnett home before it was torn down. Foxís Water Sports is located there now. When you walk around to the back side of the house you will see the original chimney and siding. Kendrick did not have enough to finish the job. It has always amazed me how these old houses have withstood many storms that come across this Island. Our greatest concern with every hurricane that approaches Hatteras Island is will the old tin roof hold fast? Can you imagine the devastation to our shop if it should blow off? Now if you will follow me I will try to give you brief overview of what you will find outside. Iíll not take the time to go inside each shack with you at this time but just walk around the grounds with you and answer any questions you might have. Letís start over here at what I call the Chicken House Shack. If you would like to see what the house looked like before it was renovated Click Here

I guess you wonder why I call it the Chicken House Shack. When I was growing up the chicken coop was very important. It gave us food for our table. One of my jobs was to shoo the chickens inside the coop in the evening to protect them from the foxes and other animals. I also had the job of collecting eggs from the hens. I was always careful to be sure there wasnít a snake curled up in the nest when I reached my hand in to get those eggs. The old rooster served as our alarm clock. People around the beach got up at the crack of dawn with the first crow of the rooster. We went out early in the morning to empty the fishing nets and to reset them. I use this building to display shells, shell nightlights, shell garlands, air plants, and other things. As you noticed I am fond of coconut and bamboo art. I have always been fascinated with bamboo, coconuts, drift seeds, and other things found after the hurricanes on the beach. It is hard to imagine the things that get into the Gulf Stream, and float here from the Caribbean. Take time to read my article entitled "My Daddy's Sea Bean". Now, follow me. We will take a quick gander at the things you will see on the garden path.

Gray House Chicken Coop

Gray House Learning Center

You noticed my Learning Center. Lets step over here and take a look at it for there is a lot of history centered around it. When I was growing up the path to our learning center was well worn. Every Halloween you had to have someone stand guard to protect the families out-house because it was a favorite item to be pushed over. I have often said that there was probably a lot more learning in some of these centers than transpires in modern day classroom. Before you leave you definitely need to become a graduate of our prestigious learning center. You can do this by having a picture taken of yourself or your group to be added to our website or facebook announcing to the world that you are a graduate of the Old Gray House University. You might want to take the time to look at the pictures of our many graduates of the Old Gray House Learning Center. Now, that we are here letís go ahead and walk the garden path, but before we do so notice there is a shack attached to the back of the house. I call it Maryís Dish Shack.

In Maryís Dish Shack you can find all kinds of glassware as well as many other kinds of things. If you like odds and ends you definitely need to take the time to browse inside. Let me remind you if you see something you like in Maryís shop you better grab it while you can get it. Most of her stuff is one of a kind and it goes fast. Of a course a lot of that has to do with her low prices. If you wonder why prices are so low you might want to read why. Why Our Prices Are So Low. While in there take time to look at the old telephone and the chimney. The old phone is a reminder of those days before all this modern communication came to the Island. I wrote an article you might want to read centered around the old phone and communication on the Island. Must admit all these new gadgets used for communicating overwhelms me a little. That chimney has been around for a long time. Did you notice the windows at the top on each side of the chimney? There is a story about grandma and Uncle Ken that I only tell occasionally because it might diminish Uncle Kenís reputation.

Mary's Dish Shack

Garden Path

Before we leave the garden I do want you to know we welcome your visit anytime you are on the Island. That is why we have provided you with sitting areas. You will often find me in my spare moments sitting back here. I realize my garden is not very fancy but it is a magical place providing me a lot of enjoyment. The times I enjoy the most is when I can chat with good folks like you. I encourage you to create a magical place where you can get away from it all. It doesnít have to be fancy or require a lot of money. It just needs to be a place that has a special meaning for you. You can Read about my magical place by clicking Here. As we make our way to the three shacks in the woods notice the row of shells along the pathway. Many of these shells have been placed here by guests who found them on the beach. We appreciate all things you bring us to help maintain our garden.

Back there in the corner is where I spend a lot of time when I am not sitting under the oak tree up front. Here you will find my crafting area. When I am not entertaining the kids I like to make Hatteras Holders. I balance and fasten shells on beach rocks just for fun. My favorite shell for this is the Whelk Shell. Read my article entitled, "The Whelk Shell". They have many uses such as pot for plants, desk sets or paper clips, wrapped candy dishes, loose change holders, soap dishes or whatever you want to do with them. My favorite one I use for hard shell nuts. Did you know walnuts are supposed to be good for your heart? Prior to Hurricane Emily this area was my own little private world concealed by underbrush and trees. Emily tore out all the trees and underbrush. It is hard to believe the changes that occur after each hurricane.

Natural Arts Shell Shack

Gray House Graves

There are many things to ponder on the garden path. One in particular I would like to call to your attention is the shameful and disgraceful actions of some people who're motivated by greed to the extent that they would desecrate the graves of our forefathers who settled on these islands. Here you will find a humble monument to those who helped to make America the great land that it is today. In recent years the islanders formed an Historical Society, which has done a tremendous job of locating and preserving the Island gravesites. It is one thing for the Island graveyard to be ravaged by the surging waters from the sea, but another to be bull dozed over by greedy real estate developers. Read my article on When does a Cemetery Cease To be a Cemetery

If you will step over here I would like to show you the Nettie Peel Path. Miss Nettie was a sweet little lady that lived in small house at the end of this path. The house is still there but it is encased in the big house you now see. Miss Nettie was good friend of my Grandparents and she walked this path daily to the Old Gray House. At that time this was a dense wooded area with thick underbrush and vines over head. If you turn your imagination loose you can hear the swishing of the bushes as Miss Nettie makes her way to the Old Gray House. If you would like to read my tribute to Miss Nettie then click here. Miss Nettie

Walking The Nettie Peele Path

Bird Land

If you continue down the Nettie Peel Path you will enter what I call Bird Land. It is here I feed the birds. Birds have always been a part of the lives of people on Hatteras Island. As a child I was taught to respect the birds. They were essential to our existence. Not only did they provide us with food but also they helped maintain the vegetation on the Island by spreading seeds. I also learned from the birds that each species flocked together. Guess that is where we got the saying, "Birds of a feather flock together". This idea of a world culture will never fly. No matter how our government tries to merge races, people tend to flock together. Seems that it would be better to teach the children of all races to honor and respect other races and cultures, and encourage people of different cultures within the races to preserve their uniqueness. Changes are happening on Hatteras Island. You can hardly find any semblance of the unique culture that once prevailed. I have no problem with people of different races or cultures flocking together as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. I thank those who have been helping me feed the birds by donating towards the food. Now, letís head back down the path to the three shacks in the woods.

As you walk the Garden Path you will notice that we have now opened up a new path which leads to the Cape Pines Motel. Feel free to walk the path to the Pines and see the many nice things they offer the guests who stay there. Should you or your children like to take time to use their swings, pitch horseshoes, or even play a game of croaky feel free to do so. Bill and Angie Rapant, the owners, will welcome you with open arms. They are following the Hatteras Island tradition of providing their guests with a laid back family atmosphere. Not only do they have a nice swimming pool but an area for cooking-out as well as games for the children. They are pet friendly like we are at the Old Gray House. We especially appreciate the opportunity this new path has given us to meet and greet so many new people that come strolling the path to the Old Gray House. We call them Pines People. You might want to take time to click onto their web site at Cape Pines Motel

Path to Cape Pines Motel

Specimen Shell Shack

I want to call your attention two the three shacks back here on the path for each one houses different items. In the back shack which has the trees growing in it houses fossils, rocks, driftwood and a collection of dried sea life. The middle one is where we keep our Specimen or Rare Shells. Most of the time you will find the door closed to the middle shack but that does not mean you are not welcome to go inside. And the third and most important one is my office. You have to admit it is not everyone that has a fancy office like mine that has a tree in it that the squirrels can run up and down.

Lets move on for I know some of you may be getting tired. As we walk to the final shack notice our buoy and driftwood section. Buoys have always been a part of our life on Hatteras Island. Notice that we have provided you a special spot for taking pictues in our our buoy garden. Should you decide to become one of our Beach or Buoy Buddies we would appreciate receiving a copy of your picture to add to our site so we can remember your visit. There is nothing like being able to look back at pictures of your friends and remember the good times you had together. Everybody needs a Buddy


Buoy Buddies

Front Door Shell Shack

Well here we are at the last Shell Shack. Inside it you will find an abundance of shells along with many things of interest. At one time this was the front entrance to the Old Gray House. Most all of the house faced South in order to provide protection from the North winter winds. Often our winters are marked by severe Northeasters that in many says are almost as bad as hurricanes when it comes to beach erosion. Hurricanes dash through but northeasters can hang around for days pounding away with constant winds and high gust. This type weather can be devastating to boaters. Well our little outside tour is about over so lets head on out front to another of favorite spots. Take note of the Spanish moss hanging on the crepe myrtle trees. These trees are very old. They still bloom but they are so tall you donít notice the blooms. At last I see my final destination and I am glad because I am tuckered out.


The old oak tree is my favorite spot at the old Gray House. It is here I have spent many warm breezy summer days snoozing and reminiscing about my childhood days on the Island. It is also here that I have had the opportunity to meet and greet hundreds of folks like yourself who come to share in the beauties of Hatteras Island, and soak up Island culture. Mary and I thank you for making our retirement dream come true by letting us be shareholders of your exciting lives. Oh, by the way, did I mention my other retirement hobby has been writing the things I remember about growing up on Hatteras Island. I encourage you to write down for your family your memories of the past as I was encouraged by Irene Nolan, editor of the Island Breeze Magazine. You might want to read a couple of my articles which are listed below that were originated from under the old oak tree. Click here to Read My Stories From this point on you are on your own for I am going just to sit here and rest a spell and chat with any all who come along. You might want to take time to go inside each one of the shacks and look around. Who knows you might learn something new. That was My New Years Resolution I made years ago and because of our guest who visit us I have been able to do so everyday.


The Old Oak Tree

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As you walk the garden path you will see posted saying and information. Some to do with Island history, vegetation, sea-life and folklore. If you are interested in path posting Click Here

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