Above: Edna Appleberry studies bird illustrations in her home in 1977. Opposite: Aided by
binoculars, Edna Appleberry looks for birds near Greenfield Lake in 1977. Below: Appleberry’s field
notes entry dated August 25, 1951, describes her husband’s observation of a rare Sutton’s warbler.
In 1933, an event occurred
that changed the course of
her life and brought her local
fame as well: the Outer Banks
The infamous storm left
1,000 people homeless and
caused about $4.5 million in
damage – the equivalent of
about $75 million today. But
with the chaos of a hurricane
also comes creation.
As often happens after a
large storm, the beachfront
was dramatically changed,
and Mrs. Cecil Appleberry
decided to investigate.
She was not disap-pointed.
In fact, she was
delighted. Piled high on the
beaches and mixed in with the
storm debris was a large collec-tion
of fish, shells, and animal
life she had never seen before. The snake-wrangling 4-year-old
awoke inside of her, and an idea began to form.
She set up a shell exhibit at Seagate School and gave talks
on nature and sea life. She was incredibly passionate about
the subject and was known to deliver five speeches in one day.
Her passion spread, as did her fame. She became popular
through both word of mouth and print. Her small shell exhibit
eventually grew to a live sea animal exhibit at the Lumina
Pavilion with support from Hugh MacRae and his Tidewater
Appleberry’s ambitions did not stop there. She started Apple-berry’s
Marine Museum, a makeshift collection of seawater
exhibits that lived at the Wrightsville Beach ABC store during
the off-season. Mrs. A thought the large shelves that usually
stored liquor were the perfect apparatus to hold her shell collec-tion
and other exhibits.
The space was called Appleberry’s Marine Museum for nine
months out of the year, but the sign out front still read ABC.
After closing the exhibit down one day, Mrs. A stepped outside
to drink a Coca-Cola. Two women were strolling by and one
whispered to the other: “Just look at that brazen hussy drink-ing
in broad daylight!”
This became one of Appleberry’s favorite stories, and she
would tell it often.
UNCW RANDALL LIBRARY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS SCENE MAGAZINE, MAY 1977/COURTESY CAPE FEAR MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND SCIENCE