Common Ground:Generations Connected by a Love of Place

In our newest issue of Haven Magazine, Odette Embert Arnold talks to families who have been coming to Bald Head Island for decades. They talk about sitting on the porch with grandparents and teenaged children. They mention crabbing in the creek, scouring the beaches for shells, and striking out in the golf cart to search for fireflies at dusk. They describe a place where board games and puzzles tend to replace digital devices, and the unspoiled natural beauty provides the setting for adventures large and small.

These three families say Bald Head Island has a special ability to eliminate generation gaps as family members come together to share timeless pursuits and appreciate the island’s own eternal nature.

The Preisses

When the Preiss family gathers on Bald Head Island, they are likely to be four generations strong. Amy Preiss Barger said her dad first visited Bald Head Island in 1972 with college buddies from Chapel Hill for a weekend of exploration and adventure. Now, grandparents, parents and children typically gather on Bald Head for every summer holiday. What they love most about Bald Head Island is being together in a beautiful, timeless place. As Amy said, “My children have never known a Fourth of July anywhere else. And until very recently, I don’t think they even knew other beaches.”

The Cosgroves

The Cosgrove family has been going to Bald Head Island since the early 1960s. Eleanor and Ken Cosgrove helped to build the seventh home on the island in 1975 and as licensed airplane pilots, teamed up with another islander to build a makeshift airstrip. Their son Chris has been visiting the island since the age of six and moved to Wilmington from Gainesville, Fla so he and his family could visit Bald Head more often. Chris recalled that the island has always been a special place: “We did, and still do, multigenerational things, like fishing at the Point, crabbing on the creek, swimming at the beach and playing golf,” said Chris. “There’s nothing like it in the world.”

The Trasks

Dargan Tunstall said her parents, Judy and Web Trask, came to Bald Head Island years before they built a house, joining friends for the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament that they still attend each year. As children, Dargan and her sisters would stay on the island for three or four weeks at a time, spending time with aunts, uncles and cousins. The extended Trask clan still holds to the time-honored traditions the girls remember from childhood. “We just sit on the porch and hear the trees rustling and watch for the deer. We play cards and games, do puzzles. It’s a lot of family time, most of which is centered around the beach,” said Dargan.