Sometimes life is nothing but a series of random events. But other times, life is a series of random events that seem to be perfectly, almost impossibly, coincidental.
Today’s article will examine a method of communication that has been around since forever. No, it’s not a carrier pigeon or a drum circle, but a message in a bottle. Bottled messages date as far back as 310 B.C. to water current studies being carried out by Greek philosopher Theophrastus. But in the nineteenth century, literary works such as Edgar Allan Poe’s 1833 M.s. Found in a Bottle and Charles Dicken’s 1860 A Message From the Sea inspired an enduring popular passion for sending bottled messages.
Here are five inspiring historical examples of how messages in a bottle carry a certain magic with them. Whether the people involved were saved, memorialised, or, by miraculous circumstance, brought together, there is something amazing about the vast distances these messages travel and the ramifications they end up manifesting.
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This first one is a real whirlwind.
1. Future Love In A Bottle
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Ake Viking, a Swedish sailor, left it up to a message in a bottle to fulfil his search for love. He penned a simple letter saying, “to someone beautiful and far away…”, rolled it up, corked the glass and tossed it overboard his fishing boat one day, leaving its destination up to the ocean’s currents. Two years later, in 1958, he received a letter from a Sicilian girl named Paolina, who said, “I am not beautiful, but it seems so miraculous that this little bottle should have travelled so far and long to reach me that I must send you an answer.”
After two years of letter writing, Ake moved to Sicily to marry Paolina, his very long distance love. And there you have it a romance self created…
2. Floating too Slowly
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On December 23rd, 1927, Frances Wilson Grayson, niece of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, was to attempt to be the first woman to make a transatlantic flight. However, her plane disappeared en route from New York’s Long Island to Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, and was never found. Two years later, in Salem Harbor, Massacheusets, however, a message in a bottle showed up on the beach and inside was a note: “1928, we are freezing. Gas leaked out. We are drifting off Grand Banks. Grayson.”
3. A Message Memorialized
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Josh Baker wrote a note that read, “My name is Josh Baker. I’m 10. if you find this, out it on the news. The date is April 16, 1995.” The note was stuffed inside the bottle, which was once used for vanilla extract, which Josh dumped down his mother’s sink that morning. The young boy then threw the bottle into Wisonsin’s White Lake.
Years later, when Josh finished high school he joined the Marines and toured Iraq, surviving heavy combat fighting in Fallujah. He made it back to the U.S. safe and sound upon completion of his tour.
Tragically, shortly after his homecoming, Josh died in a car accident, leaving his family devastated and confused as to why life takes these unexpected and unfair turns.
A few months later, Steve Lieder and Robert Duncan, friends of Josh’s, were walking on the banks of the White Lake and saw something glistening on the water. They fished it out and saw that it was a vanilla extract bottle with a note from no one other than their late friend.
To Josh’s family’s sheer amazement, the letter came at a time when they needed it the most, as if he had sent it their way on purpose. The Bakers have the message on the wall of their home to remind themselves that Josh’s spirit remains alive.
4. Ghost Message From the Titanic
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Jeremiah Burke, 19, from Glanmire in Cork and his cousin Nora Hegarty, 18, boarded the ill-fated Titanic to meet up with his sisters who had settled in Boston a few years earlier. Before setting sail, Burke’s mother gave him a bottle of holy water. As the Titanic began her descent into the sea, Burke managed to write a message: “From Titanic, goodbye all, Burke of Glanmire, Cork,” which he placed in the holy water bottle. The cousins died in the tragedy, and a year later, the bottle washed ashore a few miles from his family home. The artifacts were kept in the family for nearly a century before being donated to the Cobh Heritage Centre in 2011.
5 This Bottle Floated for Four Years
In 1979, during a cruise to Hawaii, Dorothy and John Peckham wrote notes and placed them inside empty champagne bottles, then threw them overboard. They wrote asking anyone who found the message to get in contact with them, and they included a $1 bill in each to cover postage of the reply.
In 1983, the Peckhams got a response. Hoa Van Nguyen, a former soldier in the Vietnamese Army, had written them a letter saying he and his younger brother found one of the bottles while floating off the coast of Songkhla Province in Thailand in an attempt to escape the communist regime in Vietnam. The bottle gave them hope. The Peckhams exchanged letters with Van Nguyen, and when Van Nguyen asked whether the couple could help his family move to the United States, they worked with U.S. immigration to make it happen.
The families finally met in 1985 when Van Nguyen flew into Los Angeles from Thailand.
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