EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: The Captain of Coffee Tables

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Submitted: Thu, 07/10/2014 - 1:37am
Updated: Thu, 07/10/2014 - 3:46am

FORT FISHER, NC (WWAY) — The ‘Captain of Coffee Tables’ is in the spotlight as our Extraordinary Person of the Week.

The Cape Fear is full of history. History that is told through documentaries, books, and even on the stage. This week’s Extraordinary Person of the Week is a local author….

Daniel Ray Norris’s books focus on keeping the past in the present.
Like the book on the famous Britts donuts of Carolina Beach and the stories and landmarks of Pleasure Island.
His latest hardback is called ‘The Reluctant Hermit of Fort Fisher’.
The way he tells stories make him an extraordinary person, or ‘Captain of Coffee Tables’.

The salt marshes of Fort Fisher are full of life and local author Daniel Ray Norris has lived it. “I’m very interested in local history,” Norris said. “Always have been my whole life.”

Much of that life involved stories of the mysterious Fort Fisher Hermit. After years of talking about it, Daniel teamed up with Fred Pickler who actually knew Robert E. Harrill. They put together a unique book called ‘The Reluctant Hermit of Fort Fisher’.

“This is the first(book on the Hermit), I think, with this many photos,” Norris said of the book. “Some in color. Interviews with the Hermit. Letters from his family and kept up by Fred Pickler.”

There are more than a 150 pages of this mysterious storyline that starts here in Fort Fisher. “This is the trail that leads to the entrance of the hermit’s bunker,” Norris said as we walked down the path at the Fort Fisher State Recreational Area. “How far? Probably a 1/4 mile, from the Ranger station”

Tucked away in the brush of the Fort Fisher marshes….we find the concrete walls that the Hermit once called home. “This is the WW2 bunker that Robert E. Harrill lived in, for his entire stay at Fort Fisher,” Norris explained. “It was built in the 40’s, he lived here until 1972. He would put whatever he could find on the beach here on the door to make it a little more habitable in the winter time.”

Daniel has known this landmark since he was a kid. “The first time I remember the actual Hermit was when I was about 4 years old and that’s part of the story in the book.”

This type of book, full of pictures, is how this author keeps history alive. “I think that the interest is dying out a little bit, because the information is old, but it is worthy of resurgence.”

And it’s been a long time coming for this author. “I guess when I first started, when I did my very first book, Carolina Beach Coffee Table Book, Volume 1, I put a little story in there about the Hermit”.

Now the Fort Fisher Hermit gets the entire spotlight.
And if you find it on a table near you…grab an extra cup of joe and enjoy because Daniel Ray Norris has an extraordinary way of blending life’s pictures and words.
His books are what iId call ‘Captains of Coffee Tables’….and that in itself is worth a read.

Folks, if you’d like check out the book or want details on the upcoming stage production, see below.

-Daniel Seamans

Pick up the book at these local stores….

-Island Bookshop
-Island Tackle & Hardware
-Barnes & Noble – Mayfaire
-Two Sister’s Bookery

Or online….

Also the Fort Fisher Hermit play THIS SEPTEMBER IN WILMINGTON….


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