“Over there I have the worlds largest conch shell. We’re not even allow to bring those into the U.S. anymore.” Dewy moved on the next stop on the tour. If first impressions mean anything, then I was hooked.
When I first arrived I took a walk around “The Path,” a garden that Dewy keeps for travelers to find a little rest. If you take a few minutes to read the articles posted every so often you’ll discover the wit and wisdom of Dewy Parr, a walking treasure trove of knowledge on many subjects, including the history of the island and it’s people, and one piece that especially caught my eye that discussed the benefits of feral cats:
What is the solution to the feral cat problem?
Studies have proven that trap-neuter-release is the single most successful method of stabilizing and maintaining healthy feral cats colonies with the least possible cost to local governments and residents, whiles providing the best life for the animals themselves…
Lost in an acre of land, convinced that I’d stumble into Narnia around the next corner, I was smiling, relaxed and truly enjoying myself for the first time in a long time. I think this is part of Dewy and Mary’s dream. The Old Gray House isn’t just a store - it’s a place to learn and catch up with the part of yourself that you lost a while ago.
Realizing that I had lost my wife, I thought I should go looking for her and find out how much this little excursion was going to cost me. She was inside, wide-eyed in her own dreamers paradise, browsing one of the many rooms filled with vintage nick-knacks, art, and other island souvenirs. Ellie held a box of vintage pushpins that looked like bees and she was eyeing the necklaces. “Do you like the cameo or the locket better?”
While Ellie was debating over her purchases, I struck up a conversation with Dewy’s wife Mary who was sitting behind the counter. Mary, a woman with her own interesting stories to tell, was born and raised in West Virginia. She worked as an accountant at Marshall University until she retired. “Well, Dewy grew up here on the Banks but he moved up to Huntington. Dewy was a fifth grade teacher.” (Which suddenly explained a lot.) She went on to tell me about their life in the Ohio Valley, and how moving back to the Banks was something they had always wanted to do. “So after we retired we moved back out here, and converted his Grandparents old house into the store.” They have been at it now for about 10 years. Incidentally, their 53rd wedding anniversary was a few weeks back.
After an hour or so, Ellie and I decided it was time for us to leave, though I could have stayed all day. We made our final purchases, which wound up being about $7.50 for our bag full of stuff. “And you thought you were going to be spending real money today, didn’t you?” Mary chuckled as she handed me my change.
My recommendation? If you are looking for seashells, this is the store to buy them. You will find the largest variety of seashells you have ever seen at the best prices on the island. But not only that, you will learn about the species, history and the significance of the shells you find.
You can find The Old Gray House off of Route 12 in Buxton. Turn onto Light Plant Road, across from Connors Supermarket. It’s the first house past the Pines Motel - you can’t miss it.
Learn more at http://www.outerbanksshells.com/