What started as a small project turned into a 250-page book for local author Kenneth Humphrey.
On July 25, Mr. Humphrey signed copies of his book, John Tunnell: ‘The Memory Man’ 1945 to Today... a brief walk through the history of Morehead City and Down East Plus The Sport Fishing and Commercial Fisheries of Yesterday and Today at the Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant.
The bookfeatures topics like the untold history of Morehead City, the commercial fisheries and a man who is a part of the city’s history: John Tunnell.
Mr. Tunnell, 85, has worked at the Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant for 70 years. He started working on July 15, 1945.
He seems to have a story for every occasion, a keen sense of detail and never forgets a face, serving as an unofficial ambassador for Crystal Coast visitors.
For years Mr. Humphrey begged Mr. Tunnell to tell his story, but he was not interested, then one night, Mr. Tunnell started talking, and the book was created.
“On June 15, I told him I could not stand another story,” Mr. Humphrey said jokingly. “I wanted to do a booklet about 60 pages and it turned into a story of 250 pages and 400 photographs.”
Mr. Humphrey said the purpose of writing the book was to tell the stories that nobody knows. He gave an example of Tyrone Power, the famous movie star known for his swashbuckler roles and romantic leads, who served in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946, and for a time was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
“Tyrone Power, owned a house down the street, and no one knew it, except him (Mr. Tunnell),” Mr. Humphrey said. “When we told the story, nobody believed it. So they would come and ask John. It’s that kind of book.”
According to Mr. Humphrey, many people from all over the state travel to the area just to see Mr. Tunnell and purchase the book.
Mr. Humphrey said a banker bought four copies of the book, and a woman who lives in New Bern, and had no connection to the area, bought a copy of the book because it featured Mr. Tunnell.
“The power people of North Carolina have made their way here, not to eat, but just to see John Tunnell,” Mr. Humphrey said.
Mr. Tunnell has really enjoyed being featured in the book.
“I think it’s very nice, really,” Mr. Tunnel said. “I think it’s really truthful. I didn’t want to do it at first, but one day he got on me, and I really have enjoyed it. It’s been a good journey.”
Mr. Humphrey is also thinking of writing more books. He plans to write a Christmas book that captures the spirit of Christmas in the Down East.
John Tunnell: ‘The Memory Man’ 1945 to Today... a brief walk through the history of Morehead City and Down East Plus The Sport Fishing and Commercial Fisheries of Yesterday and Today is $35 and can be purchased at the Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant or from Mr. Humphrey by calling 726-8276 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.