Vol. 11


The Tale of Gardner’s Hut

c. 1980; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA

The thump of the car passing over cracks in the Wright Memorial Bridge woke my dad. It was 1980, and his family was on their way to Kitty Hawk for a week at the “Hut.” Below him was the Currituck Sound, and in the distance was Kitty Hawk, the entry to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The Hut was built in the 1930s by my dad’s uncle Gardner. He borrowed money from his uncle to purchase the land, and used lumber from his father and free labor from his friends to build the Hut. It’s a traditional Outer Banks–style cottage, with wood floors and walls, a large kitchen table, and a wrap-around porch. My dad’s favorite place in the whole house was a bed located on the beach side of the cottage. The gentle ocean breeze and shade from the porch made it a perfect place to nap.

Two landmarks, Wink’s and Art’s Place, are just steps away from the Hut. Wink’s, which opened in the 1950s, sold anything a ten-year-old could want. They had ice cream, glass-bottle Pepsi, candy bars, kites, wind-up balsa airplanes, and many types of beach toys. Art’s Place wasn’t exactly kid-friendly. Art himself was friendly, but make no mistake, Art’s was a bar, and the patrons tended to be the free-spirited crowd known to inhabit the Outer Banks; however, Art’s had the best hamburgers on the beach — and Galaxian, the best video game ever! My dad and his brothers feel certain they spent enough on Galaxian to buy Art’s next boat.

Being a family of three boys and two girls, there was always opportunity for trouble. My dad and his brothers would bury trashcans in the sand and use bacon to attract sand fiddler crabs. At night, they couldn’t wait for their sisters to go bed; then they would release the crabs in their bedrooms. The clicking of crab claws on the wood floor punctuated my aunts’ screams, and must have created quite a commotion. Knowing my grandma was on her way, the boys would make a hasty exit out the window, onto the porch roof, and onto the nearby dune. Showing up later that night covered in sand, they were still in trouble, but would find Grandma much more forgiving.

My dad received his first boogie board that summer. It was white with yellow trim, and it made catching waves so much easier than the wooden skim boards. He would paddle out to the breaks as his mom stood at the shore, motioning and yelling for him to come closer. As soon as he would catch a wave and ride all the way to the shore, it was time to paddle back out for another.

Sadly, Uncle Gardner passed several years ago. I hope he recognized all the joy his cottage brought my dad and his family. Dad still loves to visit the Hut whenever we are in Kitty Hawk, and he loves to get a Pepsi from Wink’s.

Whitley Anderson; North Carolina, USA



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