WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) – Several years ago, we told you how a New Hanover County couple built a mailbox in the dunes at Wrightsville Beach; a mailbox that had been used by thousands of visitors and residents of Wrightsville Beach. Unfortunately a few bad apples have caused the mailbox to be moved away from the ocean.
Bernie and Sydney Nykanen put up the mailbox on land that was once occupied by Mason Inlet and ask for people to comment on Wrightsville Beach, but had no idea what they would receive. In the past eleven years, there has been an outpouring of emotions, with comments like…
"I'm pregnant, and I haven't told my mom yet, I am scared out of my mind, I don't know what to do."
"I separated from my wife three weeks ago, and I really miss my girls."
"If you ask me, I'll say yes, I am ready now."
Since 2003 Bernie and Sydney Nykanen have kept the mailbox stocked with paper and pencils, and the messages people have left vary from happiness to sadness.
"Why did you go and leave the people who loved you so much? Dear God, please help get my family back together again. God does answer prayers."
"It became, for me, an awareness that people had a need for this, to be still, to appreciate the gifts of Wrightsville Beach," Sydney Nykanen said.
Because of the harsh conditions of salt air, Bernie kept the mailbox in good condition, unfortunately some others didn't. One person tried to carve his initials in it, others defaced the mailbox. The final straw was when someone recently decided to tear up the bench Bernie had made, he said enough was enough.
"You know, it was a wonderful spot to sit, but for no reason to pull it out of the ground and tear it up, I said let someone else take the responsibility now," Bernie Nykanen said.
The mailbox has now found a new home, in the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. There are 124 journals full of handwritten notes accompanying the mailbox.
"It seems very natural to capture the history of the 1910s, the 1920s and the 1940s, but to be able to capture something more recent, this is something that touches the heart of this community," said Madeline Flagler, Director of the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.
It is hoped an individual or a group will take over what Sydney and Bernie have been doing for the past 11 years, and return the mailbox back to the dunes. After all, there are still thousands of stories that are still left to be told, no matter how good, or bad.