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What was Nora's Wish?
Chicama...WHAT? Yes, its Chicamacomico! Now known as Rodanthe, NC
Nora's Wish, A Dream Fulfilled After 43 Years
Nora Elizabeth (Midgett) Herbert was born in a three story home on August 15, 1899 in the coastal
island village of Rodanthe, where North Beach General Store sets. The daughter of a highly decorated
Lifesaver, Captain John Allen Midgett ; Nora was the eldest of four siblings and a beloved and
industrious citizen of Dare County. Nora and her husband John Edgar Herbert, were life long friends
and natives of Chicamacomico. Following their marriage on August 12, 1928 they parented three
children. Nora and John not only cherished their life in Rodanthe, but felt it an honor to share the island
with the many visitors they encountered. They were a team; guiding guests in sightseeing, fishing, and
hunting adventures throughout Pea Island, Chicamacomico, and Gull Shoal. She was such an Island
ambassador, that Nora was given the honor of cutting the ribbon christening the Herbert Bonner Bridge
that joined Hatteras Island to the mainland in 1963.
Whether it was cousins throughout Dare County, relatives living in other states, or neighbors in
Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo; Nora sought to teach young people a great kinship to one another and to
the family of God. While she lived, not a teen’s birthday in the villages would pass without a homemade
ice cream party and not a holiday nor Old Christmas without pageantry to celebrate it. She excelled in
the skills expected of an early 20th Century homemaker; as a superior seamstress, cook, and
gardener. However, Nora was also a working woman; serving as the Postmaster of Rodanthe, NC. Nora
also had a passion for photography as a means of expressing the life of her community. Every local
event was documented by her courtesy in photographs; including funerals and new- born babies.
When an engulfing fire struck the home in which she was born and raised, its full-story attic held
suitcases of her undeveloped film.
Nora could be found with a bandana on her head and on a boat pulling in nets; or just as likely with her
head a full foot in front of her feet, “pocket-purse” in tow and wearing high heels. A favorite pair of her
heels as remembered by her youngest daughter and represented in Nora's Wish logo; were red. When
fancied up, she was usually on her way to help with a community activity, heading to church, or to
reach out to someone who might be in need of company.
In her 60’s, Nora focused her ambition on opening a shop to welcome Rodanthe’s increasing number
of visitors. She implored husband John to fix her a building alongside N.C. Highway 12. By May 1969 the
building, its foundation made with ship timbers; had been completed. Merchandise had been ordered
and received, with more on its way. It included glassware, wind-ups, and souvenirs. John looked
forward to spending more time carving decoys and making model boats for the shop. He was also
anxious for the opening as he planned to serve his clam chowder, a Hatteras Island delicacy.
Following Sunday morning services at Fair Haven United Methodist Church on May 4, 1969 Nora and
John were taking a drive south to Salvo to visit a dear neighbor who'd been ill. They were never to
make their destination that day; hence she and John's dream of opening “Nora’s Wish” was not
fulfilled. With John in the driver seat and Nora as the passenger, their car was impacted by a vehicle
pulling onto Highway 12. John survived, but Nora tragically passed away as a result of the crash.
Years later, John moved the little building across the highway and remodeled it as a small rental
cottage. For the next two decades; he enjoyed sitting on the cottage's porch with new friends, sharing
with them tales and adventures. Neighbors of all ages took time to stop by to converse and hear John
Herbert's tales. Having been born in 1897; he had plenty of history to share as a boy growing up in
Rodanthe. Like his father-in-law John Allen Midgett, John Herbert was also a retired Coastguardsman
who had his entire career, refused a transfer more than a few miles north or south of Rodanthe. He
treasured the fishing and hunting too much to contemplate departing the Island's shores.
After John Herbert's passing, the little cottage that had been Nora's dream shop became a single-unit
residence. It remained a residence until August 2011, when Hurricane Irene sent 8' sound-side flood
waters rushing into the villages formerly known as Chicamacomico. Following through on Nora's
dream of a Rodanthe gift shop ; her Grand daughter's family has worked to restore the hurricane
damaged cottage, and finally opened Nora's Wish. Just as Nora and John did; they look forward to
seeing you in Rodanthe on Hatteras Island!
|Chicama...What? Yes, its Chicamacomico! Now known as Rodanthe, NC
|Nora with Husband John Herbert. Standing next to
the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Boat.
|Nora's Husband John Herbert,with a decoy
he carved. A huge hearted man; he shared
endless boyhood stores of growing up in
Rodanthe with Island visitors.
|Nora and Brother Ellery Midgett
|Chalice that the British Awarded Nora's
Dad, Captain John Allen Midgett, for the
rescue of the Mirlo Crew members.
|Nora's Husband John Herbert in Coast
Guard Uniform to Left, Dad Captain John
Allen Midgett in Uniform to Right
|John Herbert with Grandsons Eddie, Jerald and
Joey at the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station in
Rodanthe, years prior to the building restoration.