The Kindred Spirit mailbox has been collecting thousands of messages from inspired writers and others visiting the uninhabited Bird Island of North Carolina for over 35 years. Just a half-hour walk west of Sunset Beach is where many people come to share their innermost thoughts in writing.
Earlier this summer, Frank Nesmith, a Sunset Beach resident, was interviewed by CBS News national correspondent Chip Reid during the filming about Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit mailbox. Along with an old girlfriend, Nesmith 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 news team was in the area for two days to do the filming which included visiting DeGroot at her home in Sea Trail. They also visited the UNCW library in Wilmington 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 where vehicular traffic normally isn’t allowed. Kim Skeen, producer with CBS News’ Washington bureau, had made prior arrangements for the trip.
“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.
As part of the filming at the Kindred Spirit mailbox, DeGroot and fellow Sea Trail resident Sandy Payne wore matching pink as they rode their bicycles to the island. “We’re supposed to ride down and trade out notebooks,” said DeGroot, a mailbox helper for Nesmith.
“I didn’t know they were going to put this on the evening news,” said Nesmith, wearing jeans, sneakers and a straw hat as the film crew followed him down the beach for his interview on the Kindred Spirit bench with CBS News national correspondent Chip Reid.
Television viewers nationwide were given the opportunity to be inspired when the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" featured the segment about the Kindred Spirit and Sunset Beach resident Frank Nesmith. During the broadcast, Reid told the story of how many decades ago Nesmith and a former girlfriend installed the mailbox and placed a notebook inside for Bird Island visitors to write in.
Reid’s report tells the story of how the mystery of the mailbox and who put it there had long remained a secret until Nesmith came forward. It describes how people come to the Kindred Spirit to record their innermost thoughts — most of them about family, love and hope — in the notebooks that are being preserved for posterity.
Nesmith and DeGroot read excerpts from two of the thousands of messages left in Kindred Spirit notebooks over the years. It was a fitting wrap up to a wonderful story our local residents were very proud to have shared nationwide.