When you think about vibrant colors, scenes of the North Carolina coast, and melodic jazz rhythms, you think about [Read more…]
These Coastal NC beach prints of photos by Dwayne Schmidt are perfect for decorating a home at the beach!
From newborns to weddings to landscape photography.
Several of his pictures have been published in books and magazines.
Two years ago Dwayne and his work were featured on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN and in magazines and newspapers all over the world when a photo of his went “viral” on the internet.
Dwayne Schmidt’s photos of the barrier islands of NC are available as museum quality giclee prints in the Island Life NC Online Store!
The image held great poignancy with media around globe as it coincided with Memorial Day last year.
The story behind the image:
U.S. Marine Cpl. Caleb Earwood wanted to pray on his wedding with his bride Maggie before their ceremony but as everybody knows it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony.
So with the assistance of their family and wedding photographer Dwayne Schmidt, Caleb came down the stairs of the rental home where Maggie was getting ready for the service, and Maggie came out from the door on the ground floor.
With their eyes closed they both reached around to find each others hands. The couple joined hands around the corner so as not to break the tradition and see each other before reaching the altar.
“They hid me in a room and he stepped up on the stairwell and he stuck his hand out and I grabbed his hand,” Maggie Earwood told ABC News.
“As soon as their hands touched he started getting emotional,” Schmidt told ABC News.
“The whole room was full of emotion,” Schmidt said. “I tried not to cry and focus on what I was doing.”
The image shows the couple as they are turning away from each other, with their hands joined, as Caleb prays out loud and Maggie tries to hold back her tears. Caleb prayed for their marriage, asking that their union be strong enough to serve as an example for all young couples, Schmidt said.
“It broke me down,” Maggie Earwood said, “to know that we felt the same way about God. It just made me happy.”
“There were no dry eyes in the room,” she said.
Schmidt posted the photo to his Facebook page that night, meaning for it to be a sneak peek of his day’s work, but it quickly garnered more than 28,000 likes and went viral across the Internet. Dwayne Schmidt’s website had over 52,000 visits within 24 hours!
“So many people are emailing me,” Schmidt said, “saying thank you for sharing this. It’s what America is supposed to be about.”
The couple went on their honeymoon before returning to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where Caleb is based.
Sydney Long is the brains (and the hands!) behind Barracuda Moon Jewelry, a collection of laid-back, luxury pieces inspired by the sea.
Sydney was born and raised chasing seagulls and surfing in the blue-green waters of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. After high school she ventured a little further south to attend college in Charleston, South Carolina.
After dipping her feet in various industries and some soul-searching, she realized her zeal to design and create jewelry inspired by an undying love for the sea.
Before launching her business, Sydney knew that she wanted to do something to give back to others, so she partnered with and donated a portion of all sales to the Polaris Project, a charity leading the global fight against human trafficking.
Through her coalition with the Polaris Project, Sydney has become even more inspired to keep creating her jewelry in Charleston, SC where the continued support of her business has given her many opportunities to help people through the nonprofit organization.
How did you first form your partnership with the Polaris Project?:
I heavily researched different types of charities and specifically wanted to work with a charity that used the majority of its funding to help its victims rather than using donations for marketing.
That’s important too, but I wanted to find a charity that really was helping people. I loved the fact that they not only help victims abroad, But also in the US. A lot of people don’t know that there’s so much human trafficking going on in the United States.
This charity helps both, and they are also fighting to change the laws that protect victims, so they’re really attacking it on all fronts.
What’s your creative process like when it comes to making new jewelry?:
It’s kind of different every time, but I am really inspired by certain types of design, like 70s jewelry and Egyptian jewelry. I love to put a modern take on that and create pieces that people want to wear every day. I’ll take a picture of something I see or sketch something and then try to make it into my own.
How do you find the sea glass and the materials you use to make your pieces?:
I have some secret spots, but I like to go at low tide, especially after a storm. I try to go to places where I know I can usually find good pieces of sea glass and just make it a whole experience.
Why is the Carolina Coast the perfect home for barracuda moon?:
There are so many people that either are from here or that have moved here and made it home. They absolutely love being near the coast and that’s what embodies the whole vibe of the line. It’s very sea inspired, and a lot of pieces I create hoping that people will find a little piece of their love for the ocean, the sea, and being near the coast.
What is your proudest achievement since starting barracuda moon?:
I would say it’s having someone tell me how much they love their peice and how special it is to them, and that they want to wear it every day. That’s exactly what I want to do: make people feel like they have something special and unique that they want to keep forever and pass on to their daughters or loved ones.
What’s one piece of barracuda moon jewelry that you think everyone should own?:
I would say those sleeping moon necklace. It’s very simple but still a statement.
Sydney Long and her Barracuda Moon Jewelry was featured in the December 2018 issue of Skirt Magazine. That’s her pouring the champagne in the cover shot.
Her jewelry was also recently chosen by Wrangler Jeans to accessorize the photo shoot for their latest line of women’s clothing.
He was known as “The Fort Fisher Hermit” but his real name was Robert E. Harrill (or Robert Harrell).
For 17 years he lived beneath the stars, living off of the land and the contributions of the visitors who stopped by to see him. These visitors came by the thousands each year to meet “The Hermit.”
A misnomer from almost the beginning, “The Hermit” treated anyone who came by to visit with a warm and friendly disposition that was contagious.
In 1955 at the age of 62 after a a failed marriage and a series of unsuccessful jobs he became a hermit.
Harrill was committed to a mental hospital in Morganton by his in-laws, after his wife, Katie Hamrick, left him and asked for a divorce.
Mr. Harrill apparently walked away from the hospital or made a key from an old spoon and used the key to escape the facility. He then hitchhiked to Fort Fisher on the North Carolina Coast from Morganton, North Carolina, a distance of 260 miles.
Harrill Becomes The Hermit
The name “The Fort Fisher Hermit” came from Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, where he settled after leaving the mental institution in Morganton.
Soon after arriving at Fort Fisher, Robert Harrill was arrested as a vagrant and sent to his hometown of Shelby by the sheriff’s department with the help of the Traveler’s Aide society.
He returned the following summer and set up a simple home in an abandoned World War II era bunker near the Cape Fear River along a salt marsh. He was able to gather much of the food that he needed from the salt marsh and the nearby oyster beds.
Harrill learned many of his survival skills from Empy Hewitt, a true hermit, who also lived in the salt marshes of the Fort Fisher area.
The Fort Fisher Hermit was not a hermit in the truest sense of the word. A hermit is usually defined as a person who lives to some greater or lesser degree in seclusion and/or isolation from society.
But Harrill was far from isolated, and in fact had many visitors every year. His guest registry, a notebook held down by sea shells, recorded a total of over 100,000 visitors from all fifty states and at least 20 foreign countries.
He planted a vegetable garden to supplement his diet (what he grew and what he was able to gather in his surroundings).
Visitors also provided the Fort Fisher Hermit with monetary donations that were placed in a frying pan that he left out for just such a purpose.
The Hermit becomes an attraction Robert Harrill became the second greatest tourist attraction in the state of North Carolina, with only the USS North Carolina exceeding him in number of visitors.
Visitors who came to Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Fort Fisher and Southport would routinely take time to visit the man living in the salt marshes.
Many of them were simply curious, others were attracted to his wisdom and words, but others went out of their way to harass him or to try to steal his money.
There were rumors that he had thousands of dollars hidden somewhere in his bunker. He was also arrested by the local authorities on charges of vagrancy. Each trip to court saw the Fort Fisher Hermit defending himself, most times successfully.
A group of men who beat him up and stole his money were convicted on the strength of the hermit’s testimony against them, in a trial that saw the hermit serve as both lead prosecutor and star witness.
Over time a large number of journalists came to seek out The Fort Fisher Hermit to do stories on him, his bunker with his unconventional lifestyle and beliefs.
He explained his popularity in the New Hanover Sun in 1968, “Everybody ought to be a hermit for a few minutes to an hour or so every 24 hours, to study, meditate, and commune with their creator…millions of people want to do just what I’m doing, but since it is much easier thought of than done, they subconsciously elect me to represent them, that’s why I’m successful…”
Robert Harrill was always happy to greet as many visitors as possible and he would agree to pose with them in pictures for a small fee. The Hermit saw each of these visitors as another opportunity to spread his “common sense” beliefs.
Robert Harrill told his visitors that he was writing a book entitled “A Tyrant in Every Home”. His book was a byproduct of his previously stressful life: his mother and two brothers died of typhoid fever when he was a young boy, and his father remarried to a woman that Robert described as “the tyrant in my family.
The Hermit’s troubled youth and equally troubling adulthood were the primary reasons that he “dropped out” of society nearly ten years before the hippie movement began in full force. Robert Harrill stated that he finally achieved the peace and happiness that he sought for so long. He enjoyed living with nature and said, “My life here goes up and down like the tides of this old sea out here… Only nature determines my existence.”
The Fort Fisher Hermit died under “mysterious” circumstances in June 1972. His body was found by a group of teenage boys on an early Sunday morning. It was covered in sand, bloodied, covered in wounds and laid spread eagle on a pile of rubbish. Some people believed that he was killed by a group of rowdy rednecks, others believed that it was a prank gone horribly bad.
The New Hanover County coroner ruled that the cause of death was a heart attack. Heart attack remains listed as the official cause of death and an official investigation into a possible murder has never been conducted.
Memorial and legacy
The story and legacy of Robert Harrill lives on today through the efforts of The Hermit Society, founded by Michael Edwards, Edward Harrill, Harry Warren, Gaile Welker and Vergie Harrill. The Fort Fisher Hermit Society was formed on February 2, 1993 (What would have been Robert’s 100th birthday) and has members in numerous states. The President and founder is Michael F. Edwards, currently of Satellite Beach, Florida.
Since the passing of Edward Harrill, the son of the Hermit, members elected Fred Pickler, a former friend of the hermit, to fill the spot. In the spring of 2007, Pickler co-authored the book “Life and Times of the Fort Fisher Hermit, Through the Lens of Fred Pickler.”
The hermit bunker is still standing and can be reached from the Fort Fisher Hermit Trail at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.
The Hermit Society and the “Friends of the Fort Fisher Hermit” work to continue telling his story and a film directed by Rob Hill, The Fort Fisher Hermit, was produced by Wilmington, North Carolina-based Common Sense Films partners Hill, Richard Sirianni and Scott R. Davis in 2004.
Watch the entire movie here:
It has won numerous independent film making awards and airs on American Public Television on PBS. . The film was nominated for a 2007 Mid-South Regional Emmy Award.