Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to the Outer Banks.
I grew up in eastern North Carolina, in Pitt County, which is where Greenville, North Carolina, and East Carolina University are, on a tobacco farm. My family owned one of the original modern hotels on the Outer Banks called The Carolinian Hotel that opened in May of 1947. It was at the 10.5 milepost. Through the years, I went as long as they had the hotel before they retired and got out of the hotel business. I was in Nags Head on a fairly regular basis, and I worked there for three summers while I was in college. I ran a private club within the hotel.
I was a journalism major in college, with my major being in the business part of it. My first job offer was with an advertising agency in Norfolk, Virginia, because of my agricultural background. I worked in the agricultural chemicals business mostly in Norfolk, Virginia, and Richmond, Virginia – in Norfolk, it was Smith-Douglas, and in Richmond, it was a division of Mobil Oil.
In 1970, I had been transferred to Columbus, Ohio, and they decided to close the branch. Columbus, Ohio, had always purchased quite a lot of radio time in the ad business and knew radio well. I called a friend of mine from school who was in radio and television and told him, “I’m kind of thinking about coming back to Tidewater. What kind of jobs in advertising are open down there?” So, I came down and we talked for a little bit. I went back to Columbus and finished up my job out there, then came back and started in radio in Hampton Roads, Virginia, in January of 1970. I stayed in radio until I was 75 years old – I’m 86 now.
Why are our Outer Banks national parks important to you?
All national parks are important to me. My wife and I have been to about 30 of them through the years. Unfortunately, I lost my wife last September. We’d been married 62 years, and we met in college – a wonderful lady.
I first started going to the Outer Banks on a regular basis in 1947 with members of my family. It was my aunts and uncles who built The Carolinian Hotel – I even rode the Trailways bus down there from time to time. I remember many times climbing the dunes at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in the early days.
Aycock Brown was a close friend of mine; we were good buddies. Aycock was the publicity director for Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, the Outer Banks, and “The Lost Colony” theater production. He used to come up Route 17 from Atlantic Beach through Washington, North Carolina – as we say in North Carolina, the original Washington — and I’d catch a ride with him to Nags Head and stay a week. During some of those times, I’d go with him out on his photoshoots, and I’d haul his camera bag around for him; that was in the days when they used those big press cameras.
What is a favorite memory you have from visiting our Outer Banks national parks?
It was always so much fun to go. As a youngster, I got my driver’s license and always had access to one of the Jeeps at the hotel, and I would go do things on my own. And when I worked there, some of the time, in the daytime, if we could put together a junket, I would take people on a day-long junket down to Hatteras and on over to Ocracoke – that’s when I first got acquainted with the ponies. That’s when you had to take a ferry from Oregon Inlet to Hatteras, and from Hatteras to Ocracoke.
What is your favorite way to enjoy our Outer Banks national parks?
I go down to visit when I can – one of my very good friends in Virginia Beach has a cottage that’s actually about a mile away from where the old Carolinian Hotel was. One of the streets over there, by where the hotel used to be, is Oneto Lane – that was my aunt and uncle’s married name.
I have not been down recently, as I’m having some issues with my back. I’m anxious to go down and go over the new bridges. They’ve got the Jug Handle Bridge.
Why did you choose to support Outer Banks Forever?
I frankly am very fond of the Outer Banks!