Nora’s Store,” Ann recalls. “When I first began store-sitting, fresh from the city, I couldn’t follow much of anything ~ not the accent, nor the names of places, nor what alias attached to whom. Folks knew I made a living working in a crab house or driving a mosquito spray truck or whatever, but not about my writing sideline.” She still works as a substitute mail carrier, bringing the mail from the post office in Vienna out to the island. “I never intended to rock the boat by writing anything close to home, but I was so obviously fascinated with the local lore, an older guy called Dick said, ‘What are you doin’ here? The CIA must’ve sent you.’ Dick had worked ‘up on land’ for years and knew he’d grown up in a special time and place. He’s the one who always took time to clue me in well enough that I could follow the conversation. Wylie Abbott was another neighbor who took time to explain local life to me, and how things worked on the water. If the day was too windy for work, with prodding from the rest, Wylie held the floor in Nora’s.” Ann’s oral history of Wiley Abbot, Having My Say, was published in 2006. Wylie, the patriarch of the Abbot clan, was an outdoorsman and champion storyteller of the sort loved in country stores everywhere. He had quite a bit to say, and it’s a rich read about a time and place.
marsh, to schooling beyond seventh grade. Channel 16 came in a few hours every evening from Salisbury. “The older of my neighbors felt their isolated life ebbing away and wanted some memories of their old ways to survive them. They felt, as an Irish Blasket Islander said, ‘Our like will not be there again.’ Eventually they caused me to switch from freelancing magazine profiles to joining my neighbor Freddie Waller to chronicle the history of our home place.”
Thus was Elliott’s Island: The Land that Time Forgot was born. Together with the late Freddie Waller, a native, she compiled stories and collected photographs of a time past, and an era that will not come again, as the land sinks and suburbia creeps inexorably outward. Like a lot of regional writers, including this one, “I had received higher education sitting in Miss 22
Tidewater Times June 2018