A recent book signing event at the Island Convenience store in Rodanthe drew a large crowd, with some visitors driving several hours to connect with author and historian “Keeper James” D. Charlet.
“Our book signing events at the Island Convenience store in Rodanthe just keep getting better, and the Wednesday, April 12, session was a pure delight,” said Charlet. “Assistant Manager Myra Caldwell had already set up a beautiful table for us. The first people who came to our table said they had been coming down on vacation and had seen previous book signings in the local media but ‘we kept missing you.’ This time was the last day of their vacation, but, again, they had seen the press release. So, they came straight from Nags Head south to Rodanthe for the event before heading back to Virginia.”
“Minutes later, a wonderful woman introduced herself as a childhood friend of Marilyn Midgett, co-founder of Island Convenience with the iconic ‘Mac’ Midgett. She then told me that she had driven for three hours specifically for this event; We were honored.”
Two days later, April 14, Charlet hosted a special Titanic program at the Hatteras Weather Bureau building in Hatteras Village. This date was the 111th anniversary of the tragedy.
The program was a huge success for a standing-room-only crowd. “Due to the deluge of rain just before, I thought no one would come. Boy, was I surprised!” said Charlet.
The event was hosted by the National Park Service, Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the historic Weather Bureau building they had beautifully restored. Additionally, Ranger Alisa Lapp not only introduced the speaker, but also filmed the presentation. An edited-for-space version of will be available later. Watch here for future details when available.
The focus of the presentation was the connection between that well-known disaster and our Hatteras Island. After all, the sinking occurred 600 miles away! After reviewing the basic story that everybody knows, Charlet asked the audience, “So, what is the connection?”
The answer was the building everyone was in right then. Reading from his book, he quoted this passage: “Working late into the night of Sunday, April 14, 1912, station operators Richard Dailey and Horace Gaskins received an urgent telegram message at 11:25 p.m. The message contained the words “CQD: Have Struck Iceberg.”
Charlet pointed out that this secondary tragedy was three-fold: First, the telegram message was ignored by the New York office it was forwarded to; secondly, the senders were chastised and instructed NOT to repeat and stay off the lines; and lastly, it preceded all other reports by fifteen minutes. “Would that have made a difference to the 1,500 people that died? Who knows?”
The program ended with audience questions which caused some engaging conversations. “Quite a few folks came up to me after with a lot of pleasant comments,” concluded Charlet. This is just one: Jack Reitnauer of Salvo said, “As always, I learned something new during one of Keeper James’ presentations, and his presentation on the Titanic was no different. It was very enjoyable, concise and well presented.”
Keeper James Presentations continues to book engagements this season for not only book signings, but also for “live-theater” programs which are summaries of dramatic chapters from his Globe Pequot book, Shipwrecks of the Outer Banks: Dramatic Rescues and Fantastic Wrecks in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The stories are mostly about rescues from those shipwrecks by the heroes of the United States Life-Saving Service (1871-1915), which was a direct predecessor of today’s heroes of the U.S. Coast Guard.
To attend an upcoming Keeper James event, keep watching the local OBX media, including Facebook. If your group wishes to book an engagement for a book signing and/or a full program, contact Keeper James at KeeperJamesLSS@gmail.com or phone or text 252-996-0493.