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Kindred Spirit gets an airing on 'CBS Evening News'

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

SUNSET BEACH — For more than 35 years, the Kindred Spirit mailbox has been collecting messages from inspired writers trekking or pedaling down to uninhabited Bird Island just a half-hour walk west of the Sunset Beach island.

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Monday, TV viewers nationwide got a chance to be inspired, too, when the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" featured a closing segment focused on the Kindred Spirit and Sunset Beach resident Frank Nesmith.

Nesmith, along with an old girlfriend, was instrumental in launching the mailbox overlooking the ocean 37 years ago.

In April, a CBS News team came to town to film the segment that included interviews with 87-year-old Nesmith and local author Jacqueline “Jack” DeGroot, who has published several fictitious books about the site, including “The Secret of the Kindred Spirit.”

The team filmed for two days, including visiting DeGroot at her home in Sea Trail and a trip to Wilmington to the UNCW library where dozens of Kindred Spirit notebooks collected over the years have been retained in a special collection.

On the afternoon of April 10, town employees drove the team and Nesmith down to Bird Island in town vehicles after Kim Skeen, producer with CBS News’ Washington bureau, had made prior arrangements for the trip to the island where vehicular traffic normally isn’t allowed.

“She called one day and said, ‘This is CBS,’” town administrator Susan Parker said as she and town public works director Dustin Graham waited out the filming on Bird Island.

DeGroot and fellow Sea Trail resident Sandy Payne wore matching pink as they rode their bicycles to the island as part of taping at the Kindred Spirit mailbox.

“We’re supposed to ride down and trade out notebooks,” said DeGroot, a mailbox helper for Nesmith, who can’t visit Bird Island as much as he used to.

“I didn’t know they were going to put this on the evening news,” said Nesmith, clad in jeans, sneakers and a straw hat as the film crew followed him down the beach and during his interview on the Kindred Spirit bench with CBS News national correspondent Chip Reid.

During Monday night’s broadcast of the segment, Reid relayed how Nesmith and a former girlfriend installed the mailbox and placed a notebook inside so many decades ago for Bird Island visitors to write in.

Reid’s report relays how the mystery of the mailbox and who put it there had long remained a secret until Nesmith came forward to ‘fess up. It also tells how people come to the Kindred Spirit to record their innermost thoughts — most of them about family, love and hope, Nesmith said — in the notebooks that are being preserved for posterity.

Nesmith and DeGroot also read excerpts from two of the thousands of messages left in Kindred Spirit notebooks over the years.

The segment can be viewed online at

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kindred-spirit-mailbox-in-north-carolina-collects-secrets-from-around-the-nation.

It will also be archived at www.cbsnews.com/evening-news/full-episodes.

 

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.