October 16, 2014
Man Dreams Of Year-Round Tourism For Hatteras Village
By JEFF HAMPTON
The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk
Hatteras Village, NC.(AP) Eric Kaplan climbed to the top of the dune as a tiny ghost crab scampered away.
Powerful surf pounded the beach under a midday sun. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse stood in the far distance to the north. An easterly wind rustled a cluster of sea oats.
``This is a beautiful stretch of beach, isn’t it?’’ asked Kaplan, who sold his Charlottesville technology company and now divides his time between his home and Hatteras Island.
Kaplan plans to build a pier here to go along with a nonprofit education center he founded last year down the road in Hatteras Village.
``It’s easy for me to talk about it,’’ he said. ``I can just see it.’’
Kaplan, 56, wants to develop a year-round attraction in a community that struggles in the winter and booms in the summer - if the road stays open and hurricanes veer away.
With help from grants, he bought a three-story bright yellow house and called it the Hatteras Island Ocean Center. Next door is Beacon Place, for lectures and displays from groups such as the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society. Wildlife rehabilitator Lou Browning and his wife, Linda, donated the adjacent wetlands.
Here people can get a closer look at the Outer Banks, including the ocean, marine life, the sound, marshes, freshwater animals, birds, local culture and history.
``I’m a believer in just jumping in and starting,’’ he said. ``We really could have a nine-month economy here. That’s what I’m trying to stimulate with this.’’
Finding it might prove a bit difficult. Hurricane Arthur snapped off the 6-by-6-inch posts holding up the big sign.
Thomas Briley and Samantha Proctor operate the center daily.
Proctor makes colorful jellyfish from 2-liter bottles and curled ribbon and hangs them in the big windows as an appetizer to what’s inside. She teaches children recycling this way, she said.
Wall-mounted video screens show a variety of Outer Banks icons, including descriptions of the Albatross fishing fleet, marsh grass, loggerhead turtles and the Lifesaving Service.
Among the facts presented: A piece of monofilament fishing line takes 600 years to degrade. A local factory extracted oil from porpoise jaws and sold it for $20 a gallon. Islanders punched holes in shells, inserted a wooden pole and used them for hoes. A single female crab known as a sook can hold up to 8 million eggs.
Proctor and Briley guide free tours down the 200-foot boardwalk or on nature trails through the marsh.
A fee is charged for kayaking and paddle board excursions
Wednesday morning, Bill Van Druten entered, ducking under the door frame. Van Druten, a 6-foot-8 retired science teacher and fisherman, often gives lessons on the environment at the center. Everybody calls him Tall Bill.
``People look at that marsh out there and ask what good is that except for breeding mosquitoes,’’ he said.
At that point, he said. he instructs them about the great value of these wetlands.
Briley often takes groups onto the boardwalk, throws a line with a chicken leg and a weight attached overboard and waits for a blue crab to grab the bait. Crabbing is one of the favorite attractions.
``Last week we caught 12 or 13 big ones within an hour,’’ he said.
The pier would be constructed about 600 yards north of the center on the vacant tract owned by the nonprofit where the General Mitchell Motel stood until Hurricane Isabel blew through. It would replace the once popular, but crumbling Frisco pier.
The National Park Service supports the project, Kaplan said.
The pier and an onshore building would be the finishing touch of Kaplan’s vision.
``It’s very hard to start something from scratch,’’ he said. ``I’m just trying to give something back to the community.’’
Gossip-Loving Confederate Wrote His Diary In Code
By CHRIS CAROLA
Saratoga Springs (AP) A century and a half after Confederate officer James Malbone wrote his Civil War diary partly in code, a couple of Yankees have figured out why he took the precaution: He liked to gossip.
Sprinkled amid entries on camp recipes and casualties are encrypted passages in which Malbone dishes on such juicy topics as a fellow soldier who got caught in bed with another man’s wife.
Malbone also writes about meeting the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and describes her looks in an apparent echo of rumors at the time that she may have been of mixed race.
``That’s pretty shocking,’’ said Kent D. Boklan, the Queens College computer science professor and former National Security Agency cryptographer who deciphered Malbone’s code with little difficulty. ``It’s a military diary and you expect military information, but you don’t expect the first lady of the Confederacy to make an appearance in this diary.’’
According to Boklan, Malbone’s encrypted entry about Varina Howell Davis describes her as ``dark complected’’ with ``very very brown skin dark eyes’’ and ``high cheek bones wide mouth.’’
Davis’ wife was a well-educated woman for her time, and as a result, was the target of ``all kind of gossipy innuendos from the ladies’’ in Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, according to Sam Craghead of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.
Malbone, a lieutenant with the 6th Virginia Infantry Regiment, was severely wounded in the arm at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. Assigned to light duty behind the lines, he used a leather-bound pocket diary to jot down his thoughts and even a poem.
Many of the entries were in a code he devised himself, consisting of a variety of symbols, including punctuation marks and a dollar sign, that corresponded to letters of the alphabet.
Gandy said the journal probably came into the possession of a New York soldier at the end of the war and wound up in the state’s vast collection. It is the only Confederate diary in the museum. There is no record there of Malbone’s ultimate fate.
It wasn’t until 2012 that a museum volunteer discovered the diary was written partly in code. The museum contacted Boklan, who had broken Union and Confederate codes used in other documents, and he completed the deciphering after working on it for a week in January.
``Technically, this is not very hard to break,’’ Boklan said. ``There were some odd things. With a little bit of work and patience everything worked out.’’