The Mailbox after Hurricane Joaquin

As you may know, Hurricane Joaquin cascaded over the Carolinas during the past week. While our immediate area avoided a lot of damage, we still felt impacts from flooding, especially on the beaches. Once again, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox was gifted a guardian during the storm.

Before the brunt of the storm hit, someone tethered a red rope from the flagpole to the mailbox to ensure that even if it was knocked over, it wouldn’t be washed away. The mailbox did get upended during the storm and the flooding, but it was still there. Once the rain stopped, volunteers with the Bird Island Preservation Society went down to put the mailbox right again.

Another volunteer had gathered the notebooks that were inside and brought them home to dry out. Time after time, when it comes to the mailbox, we’re all kindred spirits uniting to keep the spirit alive!

Kindred Spirit Mailbox Knocked Down by Hurricane Joaquin

The Mailbox after Hurricane Joaquin

The Mailbox after Joaquin

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My Interview about The Kindred Spirit Mailbox with Time Warner Cable News

Sunset-Beach-Kindred-Spirit-Mailbox-on-Time Warner Cable NewsI did an interview for Time Warner Cable News about the Kindred Spirit Mailbox a few weeks ago. It will air on their news channel, times can be found by checking the “Viewer Guide” at twcnews.com.

The interview sheds light on the creator of the mailbox, Claudia Sailor, and what is being done to keep the legacy of the mailbox going after her passing.

You can also watch it online on their website. Click Here for the link to see the video.

 

Sunset Beach Kindred Spirit Mailbox Time Warner Cable News

 

Free Audio Book Contest Winners!

WinnersThank you all for entering the contest! I appreciate all of your support! I will be having another contest which ends December 24th for 5 more codes. (If you didn’t win this time you’re entered in the next drawing too!)

Here are the winners this time: Robin Gaskins, Jennifer Kingston, Betty LaFlame, Joanne Maly, and Rececca Hurd!

You will all receive an email with a free download code shortly!

Click Here to Enter Contest for Dec. 24th Drawing

The Official End of Summer

Although Fall has been in full swing technically for a week or so now, yesterday marked the official end of summer—for me at least. I hand delivered the journals from the Kindred Spirit Mailbox to UNCW’s Special Collections Library. I carried a large box full of all of the thoughts, prayers, and messages to a place where they will remain part of North Carolina’s History. I’m not sure if it was harder to let go of the journals or summer.

Handing off the Journals to Jerry

Handing off the Journals to Jerry

Notebooks from The Kindred Spirit

Notebooks from The Kindred Spirit

Stacks and stacks of notebooks!

Stacks and stacks of notebooks!

The Special Collections of UNCW!

The Special Collections Department of UNCW

Special Collections: I know the journals will have a beautiful home!

Special Collections: I know the journals will have a beautiful home!

An Author's Dream.

An Author’s Dream.

The Kindred Spirit Bench Mystery is Solved

I authored this article which appeared in the September 2nd edition of the Brunswick Beacon:

No one knows exactly what day it happened, but during the summer of 2011, a custom-built wooden bench magically appeared at The Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Bird Island. It just showed up one day — with no explanation, and no one seeking credit.

And what a lovely bench it is! Made from pressure-treated pine, it is well made, solid, stained a light oak and with three coats of polyurethane, it is lacquered to a beautifully polished sheen. And it’s personalized. The words Kindred Spirit are burned into the wood, each letter perfectly formed, in line with the others as if done by a professional printer. The installation is first rate, as well, done by someone who knew something about shifting sands. Its sturdy legs were sunk well into the curve of the dune, giving it a semblance of permanence — even though we all know there is no promise of permanence to anything built on the coast.

The New Kindred Spirit Bench

The New Kindred Spirit Bench

Well, not one to look askance at a thoughtful gift, we all acknowledged the present and whenever anyone asked how it came to be, both Frank and I said we were sworn to secrecy and pretended we knew who the donor was. We knew nothing.

So for three years we marveled over the beautiful bench and accepted and enjoyed the mysterious blessing. Then one day, a few weeks after the “CBS Evening News” interview aired featuring Frank Nesmith and my friend Sandy Payne and me, I received a phone call from Tom Thomas, a gentleman from Atlanta.

Wood Burned Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Wood Burned Kindred Spirit Mailbox

Tom regaled me with stories of his early days visiting Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his uncles, Alfred and Marvin. They drove from Charlotte on summer weekends so the two uncles could go fishing out of Calabash, leaving Tom on his own to explore the little town known as the Seafood Capital of the World. He remembers he hung out at the Red Brick filling station that is now The Grapevine restaurant and he spent time trolling the aisles at Ivy High’s Hardware Store. He was 11 and this was 70 years ago.

As an adult, he returned almost every year, venturing farther north until 30 years ago he and his wife and their family discovered Sunset Beach. They have returned to Sunset every year since, bringing a variety of people and staying in 30 different beach houses — some of them in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., as they couldn’t always plan their trips far enough in advance to stay at Sunset Beach. In the early years, they rented beach cottages from the Kanoys. One summer, during the ‘80s, they found the beach at Bird Island covered with sand dollars after every low tide.

Tom Thomas sitting on his bench

Tom Thomas sitting on his bench

Their favorite thing to do was to go to the mailbox and spend time reading the journals. Before leaving, they wrote letters to the Kindred Spirit.

In 2010, it dawned on Tom that there was no bench, that people had to stand or sit in the sand. There actually was a bench, but it kept getting covered with sand, and sometimes it was buried and mistaken for driftwood. The idea to build a bench at home and deliver it the following year popped into his head. And it stayed there, all the way back to Georgia.

As a master woodworker, the logistics easily fell into place. He could build the bench in sections and then with screws, bolts, and a socket wrench, assemble it in place. And that’s exactly what he did.

Over the winter months he lovingly crafted the bench seat and the legs it would rest upon. Then he borrowed a beach wagon he could use to get both the bench pieces and the hefty pole hole digger he would need down to the uninhabited island.

He says he thought about telling someone, maybe even asking permission, but in the end he figured, “I didn’t want to go through all that it would involve. You know . . . better to ask forgiveness than permission. I figured most people would be delighted for it to be there.”

So, like reverse thieves in the night, he and his daughter, Michele, along with his grandson Nicholas (who has been to Sunset Beach every year of his 21-year-old life, including one in utero), drove their van to Sunset Beach, their clandestine cargo safely loaded in the back.

Michele and Nicholas

Michele and Nicholas

They loaded up the borrowed wagon shortly after breakfast, and they began the long trek to Bird Island. On arriving at the mailbox, they set the legs 24 inches deep into the sand so the bench had a chance of surviving coastal hurricanes. Tom had designed the seat portion with slats to allow for airflow so there wouldn’t be a sail effect for this very reason. Then the pieces were screwed together and the bolts tightened.

The anonymous friends from Atlanta had done it. The Kindred Spirit Mailbox had a beautiful new bench. It was christened with a picnic lunch.

Kindred Spirits Remembering Days Gone By

Kindred Spirits Remembering Days Gone By

After meeting this generous and wonderfully kind family, I can only imagine how high-spirited they were as they stole away without leaving a word or a clue . . . to laugh and snicker over their little secret all the way back to Georgia and marvel at the good deed they’d left behind.

I can also imagine how they felt the burst of pride over their great success when they saw their bench on the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” three years later. Overflowing with happiness, they finally had to share their mischievous secret. It’s a fairytale too good not to be told. It’s a story of kindred spirits.

And that’s exactly what the mailbox is all about: Kindred souls, reaching out with thoughts and feelings — and often finding like-minded people who want to share theirs, as well. Thank you Tom Thomas from Atlanta. You’re an inspiration to us all.

Next time you’re at the Kindred Spirit Mailbox on Bird Island, take a peek underneath, at the bottom right corner and you’ll see the initials T.T. Give thanks for the special people who come into our lives in mysterious ways.

 

 

The Kindred Spirt Mailbox and My Interview on the CBS Evening News

The long awaited interview aired on CBS Evening News last night and although it was much shorter than the Sunday Morning news segment they had orignally planned, it was nice to have some national exposure.

I am hearing wonderful things about the number of hits on Facebook and my website and hopefully some people will read one of my books related to The Kindred Spirit Mailbox. “The Secret of the Kindred Spirit,” “The Widows of Sea Trail” trilogy, “Flash Drive,” and “Climax,” all feature the mailbox in their stories.

CBS did a wonderful job capturing the essence and the tranquility of the mailbox. In case you missed the show, here’s the video segment about the mailbox.

 

My Debut on the CBS Evening News!

You may remember a few months ago I was interviewed for the CBS Evening News. They came to Sunset Beach for two days and explored the history and the myths behind the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. I was so honored to be selected for an interview.

The segment that they recorded will be airing tonight, June 23rd on CBS Evening News. Tune in and see why Sunset Beach and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox are so special (as if you didn’t already know!)

Sunset Beach Kindred Spirit Mailbox on CBS Evening News