the town named for a piece of shipwreck, has a similar stake
in a newly-told story about another shipwreck.
shipwreck in this case is the Carroll A. Deering, a 5 masted
boat that went down off of Diamond Shoals on January 31, 1921.
With almost all of its sails fully flown, the ship floundered
in the swells off of the Outer Banks for a while before breaking
apart. There was no sign of the crew or the captain, and that
led to speculation about piracy. This mystery about the Deering
attracted author Bland Simpson of Chapel Hill. After researching
for years, he wrote "Ghost Ship" which has just been
As it turns out, a little bit of the Deering has been living
on here in Oriental for the better part of a half century. Bland
Simpson, who is also a member of the Red Clay Ramblers, says
he came upon it by chance three summers ago while boating around
the southern Pamlico Sound with his son, Hunter.
Bland Simpson shows off the model of the Carroll A.
were Huck Finning it and stopped in Oriental. We walked in to
the Ol' Store, and while it was taking my eyes a while to adjust
from the bright light outside, my son was saying 'Dad, isn't
that the boat you're writing about?’"
Above the TV in Lucille and Billy Truitt’s Ol’ Store
was a model of the Deering.
Lucille Truitt says she bought the boat in the 1950’s
from a woodcarver on the Hatteras Island named Dameron Gray,
who said the hull of the model came from a piece of the original
Carroll A. Deering.
"I’d seen a photo and article in the News and Observer
about this model ship he had built. I wasn’t one for writing,
but I wrote him a letter saying that I wanted to buy his ship.
So for a whole summer I headed shrimp to pay for it."
says she hadn’t heard back from Dameron Gray and so took
a chance one Sunday when she and Billy rode their boat over
to Hatteras and showed up on the island and made their way to
Gray’s barbershop. She remembers that ‘he was taller
than the trees." He was also surprised. "He’d
gotten my note, but said he was expecting a much older woman."
In the end, he sold her The Caroll A. Deering.
Asked how much she paid for it, Lucille Truitt says she "won’t
say". But for years she treasured it. "I said, ‘Billy
if the house catches fire, you get the young ones, and get that
When Lucille closed the Ol Store on South Water Street after
Billy died last fall, the Carroll Deering went to a familiar
spot in her new home -- near the TV.
But it’s not there now.
A few weeks ago, Bland Simpson returned to Oriental --this time
by land -- to move the ship to the UNC library in Chapel Hill.
up and ready to travel to the UNC library
care, he showed the model to TownDock.net. "This is how
it looked out there, except for this sail up here in the front.
It wasn’t set that day."
For those who didn’t see it when it was in the Ol’
Store --or didn’t know its significance -- the Deering
made from the Diamond Shoals shipwreck and preserved in Oriental
for a half century can now be seen as part of a UNC-CH library
exhibit about NC legends and mysteries.
It may not, however, be returning to Oriental for good. Lucille
Truitt says that she wants to donate it to a shipwreck museum
to be developed at Hatteras. "It just seemed right"
she says, to return the model built of shipwreck to the place
it became one.