Category Archives: HISTORY
Come enjoy the afternoon and help the History Museum celebrate eleven years of collecting artifacts and telling Oriental’s story. The annual meeting starts at 2pm, but the Museum opens at 1 pm for you to browse through the Silent Auction, bidding on those “just right” items for gift-giving. The auction features artwork, jewelry, note cards, hand-crafted items, and photography from your favorite local artists along with a selection of gift baskets and other items that will make perfect Christmas gifts. You can browse the Silent Auction all afternoon making sure you’re the highest bidder on that item you’ve set your heart on. The auction closes at 4pm at the end of the wine tasting. Our special exhibit of photos by Tony Craig, Country Stores in North Carolina, continues through December.
At 2 pm our annual meeting begins; topping the bill is Dale Montgomery, Oriental’s own Ghost Story Teller. Dale has been collecting haunted, off-beat, and humorous stories to tell us about this place we love. He’ll set the record straight and share with us the twisted path that created the name “Oriental.”
A wine tasting by Nautical Wheelers starts at 3 pm, where you can enjoy the latest offerings to serve during the Thanksgiving holiday. Don’t forget to buy a raffle ticket for a handcrafted wine rack embellished with a carved dragon. What a perfect Christmas gift. The drawing will take place at the Spirit of Christmas in December. We’ll also have Red Lee’s jukebox entertaining us all afternoon with all your favorite 50s and 60s hits from our extensive collection of Red’s records.
For more information on this event contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Museum is located at 802 Broad Street in Oriental. Hours are: Friday 11-3, Saturday 1-4, Sunday 1-4. Admission is always free. Like us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/orientalhistorymuseum/
County Compass exclusive:
Editor’s note: In May, President Obama visited Hiroshima, the first sitting U.S. President to travel to the Japanese city where a nuclear explosion – on Aug. 6, 1945 — and a second two days later on Nagasaki quickly put an end to World War II. Two different types of atomic bombs were used, for reasons that expert Gordon Allison explains. Now, 71 years later, we think our readers will find Allison’s insights to be extraordinary. This is the first installment in a series of his articles, which will divulge current day risks to our national security.
By Gordon Allison
Sometimes it’s a game of inches, seconds, and fate. Hitler had a six-engine bomber, the JU390, that was supposedly used for a reconnaissance flight over Detroit, MI during World War II. That Nazi bomber had the capacity to carry an atomic bomb to America’s cities and heartland. The JU390 was one of several designs that could become, using the Nazi term, the Amerikas Bomber.
Atomic energy research came from the collaboration of many nuclear scientists from Europe and the US preceding World War II. Scientists were aware of the potential destructive power of an atomic bomb and wanted the US to have it to protect freedom, as a loss in that race would have meant disaster for the world. Many scientists left Europe when the clouds of war began building. The Germans were working on the atomic bomb and by some estimates were just two years behind scientists here in America.
For example, the Germans concluded that graphite was not a good moderator for atomic reactions. A scientist working in the US discovered that pure graphite worked very well indeed, and a colleague suggested that he not publish that fact. Perhaps that very small action kept Germany from getting “the bomb” first.
The “Manhattan Project” under the direction of General Leslie Groves put a 100,000-plus Americans to work producing the components of atomic weapons in a race to beat the Nazis. The primary focus of the “Manhattan Project” was contained at three diverse sites – Oak Ridge, Tennessee where Uranium-235 was made; at Hanford, Washington where Plutonium Pu-239 was made; and at Los Alamos, New Mexico where research was conducted and the bombs were developed. Two types of atomic bombs were developed – one using Uranium and the other Plutonium.
Let’s take a short refresher course on high school physics. Atoms are composed of electrons, protons and neutrons. Atoms are categorized by the number of protons and neutrons in the center or nucleus of the atom. The sum of protons and neutrons in an atom gives us the atomic weight. The atomic number is the quantity of protons in the nucleus. Protons have a positive charge while the orbiting electrons have a negative charge. Neutrons have no electrical charge. Some atoms can have isotopes; that is, different atoms have the same atomic number but different atomic weights. For example, the common form of Carbon has six protons and six neutrons, i.e., Carbon 12. Carbon 14 has six protons and eight neutrons making it the heavy isotope, which is radioactive. Carbon 14 is used to date items based on the ratio of Carbon 12 to Carbon 14. Both Carbon 12 and its isotope, Carbon 14 have the same chemical properties, but their physical properties differ.
Uranium has many isotopes. The two most common isotopes are Uranium 238 (Atomic number 92 and Atomic Weight 238) and Uranium 235 (Atomic Number 92 and Atomic Weight 235). In any quantity of Uranium, 99 percent is Uranium 238, which is the heaviest isotope of Uranium in its native form. The light isotope, Uranium 235, makes up less than 1 percent of natural Uranium.
Uranium 235 is very important: It is the isotope of Uranium required for atomic bombs.
The Tennessee Valley Authority at Oak Ridge provided huge amounts of electrical power that was required for the separation of the Uranium into weapons-grade quantities of U-235, using hundreds of Calutrons designed by Dr. E. O. Lawrence. Calutrons were devices that used electro-magnets made with silver wire. Due to the war effort’s need for copper wiring in ships and tanks and shell casings for bullets, copper wire was not available to construct the electro-magnets.
Therefore, 47,000 tons of silver were collected from the government vaults to make wires for the Calutron magnets for the Manhattan Project. (That valuable silver was returned to the government after the war) The electro-magnets caused streams of ionized Uranium atoms to bend so that the lighter isotope, U-235, bent the most and was caught in one bin while the U-238 ions were bent less and were caught in a different bin. The Calutrons were operated by women who didn’t know the purpose of the work they performed, but were trained to read dials and gauges, and to make adjustments as they went along to keep the process going. The ladies sat on stools in front of their respective Calutrons and wore telephone operator headsets so they could contact maintenance personnel quickly should something go wrong.
Gaseous diffusion and centrifuges were also used to concentrate U-235, but the Calutrons were the primary method utilized.
Eight nuclear reactors were built in Hanford, Washington to manufacture a weapons-grade element, Plutonium Pu-239. Pu-239 is a man-made element formed by converting Uranium U-238 with the addition of two protons and the loss of one neutron. Plutonium has the atomic number of 94 and a weight of 239. This process was carried out in a breeder reactor. The Columbia River provided the water that Hanford needed to cool the reactors.
The nature of Plutonium is that a sphere of the metal must be imploded to start the fission reaction – – to make it explode. This requires sophisticated timing of detonators to set off numerous shaped high explosive charges surrounding the Plutonium. A failure of any one detonator could cause the bomb to fail to explode. Oak Ridge also had a small reactor to create small amounts of Plutonium Pu-239 for research purposes.
‘Fat Man’ – the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki – used Plutonium technology. That’s the reason ‘Fat Man’ came second!
The laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico performed nuclear research and built the bomb parts. Two different atomic bombs were made at Los Alamos to be dropped on Japan. Both bombs had dual radar altimeters to trigger the explosion some distance above ground level. Technicians on board the B-29 bombers made the final connections to arm the bombs as they neared the drop points.
The smaller bomb was “Little Boy” and was the first bomb to be dropped. Hiroshima was the first target and the B-29 bomber named Enola Gay delivered “Little Boy” to Japan from the Pacific Island of Tinian on August 6, 1945. “Little Boy” had Uranium 235 as its fissionable material. Fission is the process where atoms are “split” generating huge quantities of energy. “Little Boy” looked very much like a conventional high explosive bomb. It was a long cylinder with fins, about 10 feet long and about 28 inches in diameter. The components were very much like a gun. There was a small, heavy cylinder (the barrel) inside the bomb’s outer cylinder, with a chunk of U-235 acting as the bullet at one end, and another chunk of U-235 being the target at the other end.
To activate the bomb, an explosive charge was detonated behind the bullet U-235, shooting it down the barrel and smashing into the target U-235, creating the total weight (critical mass) of U-235 to be sufficient to cause fission, producing a huge explosion equal to 15,000 tons of TNT. “Little Boy” was simple in construction and the odds it would explode were very high. The explosives and the gun “barrel” had been tested, and the scientists were confident the bomb would detonate successfully without having to complete testing the Uranium 235 bomb.
The second type of bomb “Fat Man” (named after Winston Churchill) was made with the fissionable material, Plutonium Pu-239. The scientists had less confidence it would work, so testing was conducted on July 16, 1945, near Alamogordo, NM, now known as White Sands Missile Range, to make sure it would work.
The atomic bomb test site is known as “Trinity” Site. My father-in-law worked on the bomb at Los Alamos and was a witness to the test early in the morning that day in July. A thunderstorm brewed up while the bomb technicians were hooking up the detonators. The amazing thing is that the lightning didn’t set the bomb off early! The “Fat Man” bomb was dropped by a second B-29 bomber, Bockscar, on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, creating an explosion equal to 20,000 tons of TNT. This led to Japan’s surrender.
Today, visitors can travel to Trinity Site (Ground Zero) when the military opens the roads through the White Sands Missile Test Range once per year on the first Saturday in October. You can see some of the green glass (Trinitite) formed by the heat of the atomic explosion that is kept under a glass cover, the remains of the bunkers, and the legs of the steel tower, which held the test bomb. Along with the visitors at Ground Zero, there are scientists wearing Geiger counters to monitor radiation levels walking around the site.
The piece of Trinitite that my father-in-law gave me was retrieved from Ground Zero soon after the test. It was tested at the Colorado School of Mines a number of years ago, and the basement walls of the School of Mines building were more radioactive than my Trinitite sample! This is not unexpected as there is a lot of radon gas in the Denver area. In fact, there is a Uranium mine in the hills just west of Denver not far from the now-closed Rocky Flats Department of Energy site where nuclear triggers, made with Plutonium, were manufactured during the Cold War. These triggers were used to set of Hydrogen bombs.
In the days of World War II, all electronics on the B-29 bombers, Enola Gay and Bockscar, used vacuum tubes and not semi-conductors (transistors, computer chips, cell phone imaging chips, etc.). Vacuum tubes are fairly immune to the powerful electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) that occurs when there is a nuclear explosion.
So why have we talked about atomic bombs? What do they have to do with us in today’s world of ISIS, EMP, and the fragility of the US power grid? When an atomic bomb explodes, the bomb produces a pulse train starting with a powerful, sharp pulse that attacks solid state electronics such as computer chips, telephones, and today’s advanced, feature-driven automobiles. A second pulse is lower in frequency, but it, too, is powerful and takes out other devices that respond to the lower frequency pulse such as power controllers, diodes and transistors. EMP can destroy electric grid metering and control equipment.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Allison grew up in the 1950s when many people had bomb shelters in the back yard and school children were taught to duck under their desks to protect themselves from the Russians and their nuclear weapons. He retired as an engineering consultant and moved to Pamlico County in late 2014.
BAYBORO – Frank Sawyer, 83, recalls a different world when he was one of a few who were instrumental in forming Pamlico County Rescue Squad way back in 1966.
In a brief interview last week where Sawyer resides at Gardens of Pamlico Assisted Living, the teary-eyed senior citizen looked back on the squad’s earliest days.
“We seen some really bad stuff,” said Sawyer. “I remember we bought a Dodge hearse for our first ambulance, and it would get down yonder. We used to hang out with a guy who was a Highway Patrolman. We took the thing out on a call one day, and he said it was the first time he ever got passed by an ambulance on three wheels!”
The Rescue Squad veteran also recalled: “I had to deliver two babies – one white one and one black one. And, sometimes they still come by to see me. I really enjoy that.”
Sawyer is looking forward to Saturday’s festivities, scheduled from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. at Rescue Squad headquarters in Bayboro.
“I’ll be right in the center of it,” he said, with a wry smile.
By Sarah Goodnight
ORIENTAL — This is the stuff you missed in history class! Join us Thursday, May 19, at the Old Theater for a film, which chronicles the amazing story of Jewish business man, Julius Rosenwald, who teamed with Booker T. Washington to build thousands of schools from 1912 until 1932 – all to benefit the African-American populations of the rural South.
I had never heard of the Rosenwald Schools until I moved to Oriental and bicycled past Holts Chapel Community Center. I became intrigued with the mystery of the old building set back from Janeiro Road, near Kershaw Road. This free film is intended to boost awareness and financial support for this historic Rosenwald structure. For more information, see the poster below.
By Jeanne Robertson
PORTSMOUTH ISLAND – Hey Gang! It’s getting close. Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 30. But, keep in mind — this place is so remote, that you’ll need to do some major traveling the day BEFORE in order to get here for the big Celebration!!!
The Village of Portsmouth was settled out of necessity for shipping purposes in the mid 1700’s. There was a natural inlet between Portsmouth Island and the island of Ocracoke and this passage would be a way to supply goods to the mainland. Large ships supplying the colonies could not navigate the sounds between the fingerlet island and the mainland. The Village was a natural setting for “lighter” boats to get the supplies off incoming ships anchored off the coast and then taking the supplies to flat bottom boats that would in turn supply the villages on the mainland.
The Village grew to a high in population of over 750 people. There were many houses, of which only a few remain to this day. There were several general stores for goods and marine needs. A school provided children’s education needs. A post office was very busy too – separating mail to ferry on to the coastal towns. At one time there was even a hospital at the village!
The inlet was the main passage for the mainland. It was a bustling port and grew rapidly, even housing a
Coast Guard station.
Over the years, Mother Nature wreaked havoc. After storms, nor’easters and hurricanes, the inlet became too dangerous to navigate and the Village began to decrease in population. The lifeguard station was closed and when this happened the children living at the Village moved away, and then the school was closed.
With no children, the population slowly aged out. As you will see if you visit on April 30, houses and buildings have deteriorated – but some have been maintained.
The National Park Service would ultimately take over the Village. As time went by, only two women — Marian Babb and Elma Dixon – and a black caretaker, Henry Pigott, were left. Henry’s gravesite is on the island near the Village. After Henry’s demise, Babb and Dixon departed, and died on the mainland of North Carolina.
The Village is now maintained by the Park Service, although there are leases of some of the houses by the descendants of original property owners.
The safest and easiest way to get to the Village of Portsmouth is from Ocracoke. It is a short boat ride from Ocracoke Island. Rudy Austin will be ferrying visitors. Call him for reservations at (252) 928-4361. Do it soon. We expect a huge crowd.
When arriving at the Village, one can see the water tower and lighthouse of Ocracoke. What an amazing feeling to be standing in the Village — which is stuck in time — and to look and see Ocracoke rocking and rolling in the 21st Century!
The festivities start at 9 am on Saturday, April 30. The first 500 people receive a Commemorative Pin. There will be small pull-type wagons available at the landing move coolers and personal items to the Village (bring your water and your lunch meal to be shared).
There is a tent for descendants to share photos and stories of their ancestors. Christenings are scheduled for the church in the morning. Visitors and participants should bring lunch items to be shared. A main entree is greatly appreciated
And one absolute must: A photo will be taken of everyone attending. Remember your bug spray, sunscreen, and items to protect you from the elements. Did I miss anything? My phone number is (252) 802-0210.
With all of us there, if only for the day, the Village again will take on its life of the way things used to be!
By Jeanne Robertson
Editor’s note: A native of Williamston, Jeanne Robertson as been visiting Portsmouth Island for more than 40 years. In a series of articles over the next several weeks, Robertson sets the stage for an important event – the 50th Annual Portsmouth Village Homecoming on Saturday, April 30.
You need to start in January if you want to be a part of Opening Day at Long Point on Portsmouth Island, which is part of Cape Lookout National Seashore.
That is when the National Park Service ‘opens’ the website for cabin reservations. The opening date has varied from early March to as late as April. Opening Day, which this year happened on March 16, is always dependent upon what it takes to get the island ready after winter storms. Doing this for years, believe me there is a real “application” process for my beloved CABIN 10!
First, it is an absolute ritual for Opening Day to eat a hearty breakfast at Don’s Grill, which is part of Morris Marine in the small ‘Down East’ community of Atlantic.
The shellers from South Carolina were there too in full force with a crew of 12 people, including the Sanibel Island members.
With no fanfare, we paid on boarding and lined up vehicles and gear to make the way to Long Point. Ricky, the owner of the ferry, is like clockwork as he directs and loads the ferry. You can hear him say, “look at me” over and over as he guides the vehicles so close to each other that you cannot open the doors to get out of you vehicle.
I remember my first ferry ride 40 years ago. Somewhere with this article I hope the business card of Don Morris will appear. He’s gone now, but I loved the guy!
Ricky loading the vehicles on the ferry is only upstaged by the sunrise. Across the sound, the island comes into view and your hearts start to beat a little more! What a site to see and the anticipation of what awaits, as you are going to be the first guests this year, on what some still call ‘Ports Island.’first guest of Ports Island.
On the ferry, I am a ‘walk-on’ this year — standing in a covered area with my gear for Cabin #10. The excitement for me was only interrupted by the mosquitoes and traversing my way thru the cars, standing on bumpers, and sliding my ‘weight gain’ over fenders to the front of the ferry.
Upon arriving a the ferry landing at Long Point, the National Park Service greeted us and helped with the unloading and helping us “walk ons” with a gear, to Cabin #10 for me and three other gals. It’s the ‘entrance’ to the Atlantic Ocean and there I was! OMG, so beautiful, as I was finding the first Scotch Bonnet, North Carolina’s official state shell!
This year was a different beach as there were not the bounty of welks (what many people call conchs) as in years past. This was the beginning a new adventure for Portsmouth Island
Now, I have to tell you things have changed ever since I started to come in the early 1980s. The cabins at one time had no heat. Now there is gas heat for the cold time and ceiling fans for the HOT days. Ricky, who is also the maintenance person, has installed new flooring in some of the cabins, new railing, which they jokingly call the “cow pens.” There is hot and cold running water, and a gas stove — you may have to light the pilot, but you can now cook.
After many stays at Long Point, I have settled on Cabin 10, where there is a posse of six females. We jockey for our cabin thru the National Park Service. These women are serious about shelling, aware of the conditions and ready for anything.
Opening Day, the ferry ride over, the sun rise, Cabin 10 and the shelling. You just got to want to be there . . .
By Jeanne Robertson
Editor’s note: A native of Williamston, Jeanne Robertson has been visiting remote Portsmouth Island for more than 40 years. In a series of articles over the next several weeks, Robertson sets the stage for an important event — the 50th Annual Portsmouth Village Homecoming on Saturday, April 30.
CAPE LOOKOUT NATIONAL SEASHORE — My first experience of Portsmouth Island was Don Morris. He ferried guests to and from the community of Atlantic, which is part of remote ‘Down East’ North Carolina. I was so intrigued that he looked over his shoulder and talked to us as he guided the boat – only occasionally looking forward!
As we embarked from Atlantic destined for Portsmouth Island, Mr Morris asked us why were we going over (we were not fishing and were going over for just the day). You must be going shelling.
“Shelling???” we said. “No, just wanted to see him drive the boat ‘backwards.’”
The 45-minute boat ride landed us on the sound side of the island where there was nothing, I mean nothing, just sand the sun and water. With a cooler of beverages and a sheet, I and a friend set off as Mr Morris would retrieve us later that afternoon.
The shot was un-rivaled long beaches, roaring Atlantic Ocean and just birds. There was NO ONE in sight, I mean no one. This was truly a place of pristine views/
That was almost 40 years ago, and Don Morris has died and his daughter and son-in-law now ferry not only people, but also 4-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs. The National Park Service now has a dock for the ferry – rather than just a flat beach. There is a ranger station and cabins to rent with “some” comforts of home.
Through those 40 years, the island calls me back to learn more. I have experience the thousands of shells on the beach either blown up from storms or unearthed by the winds.
Seen sea lions beaching and resting from the ocean furry. Sea turtles, dolphins and other sea life on the beach dead.
Yet, there is much more to this island. Twenty-two miles to the north, but before you cross an inlet toward Ocracoke, I always look forward to the date each year. Come April 30, that is where this beachcomber will be! The 50th anniversary for Homecoming at the Village of Portsmouth should be on everyone’s (sand) Bucket List!
More next week.
Weekend’s back-to-back ‘battles’ pull cast of hundreds, crowds of thousands
By Terry McCune
Photos by Terry and Heather McCune
BELLAIR PLANTATION FARM – Sunday afternoon might have been much like Feb. 1, 1864 – when Confederate Generals Hoke and Pickett captured a Union outpost near New Berne, in what has since become known as the Battle of Batchelder’s Creek.
The two amazing re-enactments (Saturday’s was the Battle of New Berne on March 14, 1862) were spearheaded by the Rains Brothers Camp 1370 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A hearty salute to those hard-working guys and gals who recruited a cast of hundreds, for what may well become an annual tradition.
For more information, visit www.battlesfornewberne.com
$4.3 million earmarked for renovations can be put to better use, says official
By Carl Ollison
Editor’s note: Carl Ollison, the Pamlico County Commissioner with more years of service than any of his other colleagues, was the lone holdout Monday night in a vote to proceed with $400,000 in Courthouse renovations – part of an ambitious $4.3 million multi-phase plan to upgrade the two-story, 12,000 square foot building originally constructed in 1938. Ollison voted no because he believes it makes more sense to build new, rather than to rehabilitate old. His explanation follows, in which he vows to launch a petition drive in order to bolster his case.
I, Carl Ollison, have been your County Commissioner for over 21 years. I’ve always tried to make decisions based on the direction of the people who put me in office. Myself and some of my fellow commissioner would like to know: Is it time to build a new Courthouse?
In the oldest part of the Courthouse, which was build in 1938, there are a lot of problems. To name a few:
- Mold & Mildew
- Old and dangerous wiring is a fire hazard
- Single pane windows are energy inefficient
- Foundation is breaking up
- Heating and Air Conditioning often fails
- When it rains, water blows through some walls!
- Security does not exist
A new Courthouse would have:
- Adequate ventilation, heat, and air conditioning
- Wiring would be the latest technology
- New building would be energy efficient
- New building would be safe, comfortable, and secure
Here’s the kicker! We would spend more money renovating the old Courthouse (estimated at $4.5 million) than building a new courthouse. I will be sending out petitions in the next few weeks. Please let us know how you feel. You can also mail me a note, and I will be sure to let my fellow commissioners know how you feel. Let’s build something we can be proud of and see something done with our tax dollars.
Carl J. Ollison, 118 Pine Tree, Bayboro, N.C. 28515