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Message in a bottle writer located in South Carolina

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

It took less than a day for the sender of a message in a bottle to be found.

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Just as last week’s Beacon was hitting the streets, 24-year-old Brittany Kempson was contacting the newspaper to say she is the 8-year-old who left a recently found message in a bottle at Holden Beach 15 years ago.

The bottle was found Oct. 26 by wildlife damage control agent Roland La Fave of Supply as he was monitoring the marsh near Holden Beach. The bottle contained a barely discernible message scrawled by Kempson in pencil in July 1998 while she was vacationing at Holden Beach with her family.

Kempson subsequently sent an email to the Beacon on Wednesday, Nov. 20, after Beacon editor Jackie Torok contacted newspaper colleagues near Kempson’s hometown of Lamar, S.C. The (Darlington, S.C.) News and Press, which tracked Kempson down, and The (Hartsville, S.C.) Messenger sent out alerts and published information about the find, as well.

In her email, Kempson identified herself as the writer of the 15-year-old bottle message.

“I am SO excited that it was found!” she wrote. “I remember being on the beach and throwing it in the ocean with my Daddy during our annual vacation in Holden Beach!”

Kempson graduated from Lamar High School in 2007 and now works as a registration clerk at Carolinas Hospital System in Florence, S.C. She is engaged to be married next May.

Coincidentally, Kempson said the bottle was found by Roland La Fave on her 24th birthday, which was Saturday, Oct. 26.

While growing up, Kempson said, she and her family used to vacation at Holden Beach every July.

“Every year we would always come the same time during July and stay for a week,” Kempson said, calling they were staying at a house on Fayetteville Street, called “Sea Schulz.”

She remembers tossing the little glass bottle containing her note into the Intracoastal Waterway.

“I just thought about doing it to see where it would end up,” she said. “I thought it would be a neat thing.”

Kempson, accompanied by her father, said they went down to the waterway and stood just beneath the Holden Beach high-rise bridge.

She thinks they might have bought the little glass bottle and cork used to plug it with her message at a local gift shop. Her mother doesn’t remember the event, “but Daddy remembers,” Kempson said.

This past Monday, Kempson finally got a chance to speak on the phone with La Fave’s wife, Judy.

The La Faves are going to mail the bottle and letter to Kempson in South Carolina after Thanksgiving.

“We exchanged addresses,” Kempson said. “She wants me to write her and send her (photos) of me and my family that’s up-to-date.”

The last time she visited Holden Beach was in 2000.

“Unfortunately, it’s been awhile,” Kempson said, adding she hopes to return soon.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do,” she said.

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