When Melody Leckie began sharing old postcards from the Outer Banks on her Facebook page more than a decade ago, she had no clue how popular that idea would become. Leckie, a Manteo resident, began receiving friend requests from strangers eager to remember alongside her. That’s when she started the group Outer Banks Vintage Scrapbook. Today there are nearly 25,000 members.
Leckie is an administrator along with another local, Linda Crumpler Pearce. The Outer Banks offer such a rich and memorable experience, Leckie says, in all the historic firsts, the free spirit that permeates life on this Atlantic Shore and the trouble-free vibe where time seems to stand still. Being on the Outer Banks “creates a wonderful blend of memories from those who share them,” Leckie says. “It’s a time many of us wish we could get back.”
Members have shared more than a thousand photos, from grainy black-and-white images of long ago to color shots from the mid-1990s. Some people have connected with long-lost friends or seen the face of a great-grandparent for the first time. “What makes this group wonderful are the members who freely share their memories and photos of the Outer Banks from a time long gone,” Leckie says.
Here is a sampling of eight posts from the page. Search for “Outer Banks Vintage Scrapbook” on Facebook to find hundreds more.
Buddy Creef - Ash Wednesday storm
“This is what my dad, the owner of the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, found the morning after the Ash Wednesday Storm,” wrote Manteo resident Buddy Creef when he posted an album showing wreckage from the March 1962 nor’easter. The storm spared little of his father’s business, destroying docks and bulkheads, filling in the landing’s basin and leaving the house on-site teetering precariously over water. Even conventional road access had been cut off, requiring him to get to the fishing center by driving on the beach. Remarkably, Creef’s father got straight to work, and was up and running once again less than three months later for Memorial Day weekend.
Elaine Vann Whitaker - Green Hall Cottage
When Elaine Vann Whitaker of Kill Devil Hills was a young girl, she vacationed with her family at this Kitty Hawk beach house, called the Green Hall Cottage. She still recalls the layout of the house and the sleeping arrangements – females on the left side and males on the right. Because the extended family was growing all the time, there was a separate bedroom with a crib. “We spent endless hours playing on that beach,” she remembered when she posted this 1960 picture of the cottage. “The men would surf fish or walk to Kitty Hawk Pier. It still rents today. So many wonderful memories.”
Mariette Riedell - The First Colony Inn
The First Colony Inn is a historic Nags Head hotel located at milepost 15.5, but that wasn’t the storied building’s original location. Built in the 1930s, the hotel was among the first accommodations on the Outer Banks for tourists. By the 1980s, the First Colony Inn was showing its age. Rather than see the old structure destroyed, preservationists saved the building and moved it one-and-a-half miles south. Mariette Riedell of Winston-Salem, who has been visiting the Outer Banks for more than four decades, snapped this shot just after construction crews divided the inn into three sections, hauled it down the road and put it back together in a new location.
Melody Leckie - Mini-golf memories
Melody Leckie posted this photograph from the Library of Congress in an album remembering a few bygone miniature golf courses: Jockey’s Ridge Mini-Golf, Forbes Carpet Golf and World Wide Golf. Jockey’s Ridge Mini-Golf opened about 1975, according to Leckie, just about the same time the 100-foot dune and its surroundings were established as a state park. Outlandish figures loomed over the course’s holes, among them a giant octopus, pirate ship and this cobra. When Jockey’s Ridge Mini-Golf closed in 1988, some of these objects found new homes. A castle stayed behind, which the drifting sand of the golf course’s namesake dune soon covered.
Berend Wamelink - Yearly getaways
This happy boy is Berend Wamelink, who paused for a photo beside his family’s beach cottage located at about milepost 13. He surmises that he’s about 5 years old in this shot, which would date it around 1967. Wamelink says that his family bought the cottage a decade before that picture was taken, and he and his extended family spent three or four weeks there every year. The cottage is still in family hands, he says, and to this day they split the spring and summer among themselves. As for the photo, Wamelink doesn’t remember it being taken, but it captures the essence of his time on the Outer Banks. “Just another day at the beach,” he says.
Bonnie Meads - Diamond Shoals
While the Atlantic Ocean might be the star of the show on the Outer Banks, there have always been plenty of other landside attractions to occupy vacationers. Among the mini-theme parks that exist now only in memory are the arcade Footsball Palace, Dowdy’s Amusement Park, and this old gem, Diamond Shoals Family Fun Park. This photograph, posted by Bonnie Meads of Elizabeth City, shows her husband and son on the park’s waterslides. Diamond Shoals also offered batting cages. One commenter recalls that $5 got you in all day, but that deal is no more; now there’s a Dollar Tree and Harris Teeter where this park used to be.
Don Evans - Mom-and-pops
Don Evans of Chesterfield, Virginia, is among the longtime Outer Banks vacationers who remember the Ebb Tide Motel and Family Restaurant near milepost 8 at the Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head line. Evans used to stay there during his family trips. The restaurant was known for serving the region’s original 99-cent breakfast, which diners recall as legendary. Today the site of the old Ebb Tide is TownePlace Suites by Marriott. “The people who ran the restaurant always made you feel at home,” Evans recalls. “A shame that the OBX has lost most of the mom-and-pop places.”
Brian Scott - Washed ashore
Brian Scott of Chesapeake posted this photo of the decommissioned naval vessel Betelgeuse. The World War II-era ship washed aground between Waves and Salvo villages north of Cape Hatteras in January 1976 after the tugboat towing it to a scrapyard encountered heavy winds. Soon afterward, a well-known Rodanthe convenience store owner and all-around eccentric named Mac Midgett tied a line to the ship from shore and claimed it as his own, invoking longstanding maritime laws that gave salvage rights to the first individual to discover a shipwreck. Although Midgett eventually lost his claim, many people who remember him say that such an outrageous stunt perfectly summed up his character.
Greg Dorn - Off-roading in a G10
Off-road vehicles are a way of life for many Outer Banks vacationers, among them Greg Dorn of Greenville, North Carolina. He modified this 1979 Chevrolet G10 van for beach access and surf fishing, and reckons he snapped this shot on the Outer Banks about 1995. Projects like these have long been a passion for Dorn, who started his own Facebook group, East Coast Beach ORVs. The van in this shot and nearly all his other projects are two-wheel drive vehicles, which doesn’t present a problem for beach driving, he says, as long as you don’t overlook some key metrics. With the right weight distribution, tires and pressure, four-wheel-drive trucks aren’t necessary.