AFTER A WEEK-LONG FAMILY VACATION on Topsail Island, Ray McAllister went home and wrote a newspaper column about the place where everyone goes 10 miles per hour under the speed limit. This column in The Richmond Times-Dispatch brought a deluge of responses from readers who shared his appreciation for this barrier island off the coast of North Carolina.
As if caught in a time warp, Topsail resembles the resorts of decades past. It has the small-town feel of a family beach, a place with few commercial trappings whose devotees return generation after generation.
In this book, McAllister tells the many stories of Topsail with the help of those who love the island best. He blends current-day interviews with stories of early pirates, devastating hurricanes, a 1940s dig in search of a 1630 Spanish galleon’s treasure, the U.S. government’s secret rocket program, a modern-day sea-turtle preservation project, and a black bear who came to stroll the beach.
“Topsail Island” has gone into six printings (three hardcover, three paperback). It was nominated for the Library of Virginia Literary Award.
“Topsail Island” was given the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award by the North Carolina Society of Historians in 2007. “This is [a book] to curl up in a chair with and read from cover to cover,” the judges said. “It deals with an array of interesting subjects, from the early days when pirates sailed the seas, to a bear running across the beach and scaring vacationers to death . . . . Then there is the Turtle Hospital, songwriters from the area, the fishermen, the fascinating names people [give] their cottages and houses, hurricanes, different beach areas and the piers. So much fascinating, interesting information in such a little book!”
The judges said they “felt sorry for the pirates of yesterday who had to search for and dig up their treasure. Ours was handed to us for judging.”
Chapter One Mayberry by the Sea
Chapter Two Early Days . . . and Pirates!
Chapter Three The Gold Hole
Chapter Four Towers
Chapter Five Piers
Chapter Six Hurricanes
Chapter Seven Topsail Beach
Chapter Eight Surf City
Chapter Nine Ocean City
Chapter Ten North Topsail
Chapter Eleven Vacations
Chapter Twelve The Collapse
Chapter Thirteen Cottages
Chapter Fourteen Photographs
Chapter Fifteen The Law . . . and the Bear
Chapter Sixteen Waters
Chapter Seventeen Turtles
Chapter Eighteen Songwriters
Chapter Nineteen The Point
Chapter Twenty Mayberry Tomorrow