Magic Monday: Hidden Messages, Lost Treasures

I found my own once.

When I was doing this….

A grand stone fireplace from the mid-1800s was waiting for me in the middle. It used to be a grand hall for the upper class to convene – high above the Catskill Mountains. Now it’s vacant and waiting to be discovered at the top of a lonely trail.

There was something about it that called me. I moved closer to it. Got down on my knees in front of it, and stuck my hand up into the fireplace to see if there was anything to be found.

My hands felt a rusty container…wedged on a secret ledge inside.

Inside the box were notes dating 9 years prior, from people who had adventured a little further and found the secret spot. I left a note, dated it and left the necklace I was wearing as a treasure for the next adventurer to find.  Then I reached back up and put it back on the stone ledge inside the destroyed fireplace, safe from view.

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Sidonie and her message in a bottle.  Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP

A story came out last week about a message in a bottle found after 12 years. It was written by then 10-year-old, Sidonie Fery in 2001, who passed away at age 18 in 2010. Sidonie scrawled a number at the bottom of the note, which lead the finder of the bottle to Sidonie’s mother.  Three years after her daughter’s passing…she received a message from beyond.

Around 310 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus sent one of the first known notes in a bottle to study rhythms of the sea. There have been hidden messages on cave walls of ancient civilizations. Time capsules with predictions and messages to the future have been hidden in the ground for centuries.

Last year, a time capsule from 1959 was found on the cornerstone of the Salt Lake City First Federal Savings Bank accidentally during construction. It contained the local newspaper from back in 1959, a $50 savings bond made out for the first baby born in town on January 1, 2000, and predictions for the year 2000. Many of which were right!

1959 Time Capsule Paper found last year. Courtesy of the Deseret News, SLC

In 1979, John and Dorothy Peckham, on a cruise together, wrote a message in a bottle with their postbox, a dollar for mailing back and a message of a reward if found. That bottle floated over 9,000 miles away three years later and into the hands of Nguyen Van Hoa. Hoa was escaping from Vietnam on a tiny fishing boat when he caught sight of the bottle…thirsty, afraid and near death, the message gave him hope. Five years later, he was given the chance of freedom and a new life, as the Peckhams sponsored Hoa, his wife and their baby to come to the United States to live. The Peckhams and the Hoa Family met each other for the first time in a tearful exchange at the Los Angeles airport.

Lives changed by a message in a bottle.
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When my Mom and her best friend, Claudia, were 12 years old, they scrawled their message, sealed it into a bottle and walked to the end of a pier to feed it to the sea. When I was 8, my Grandpa Foley took me out on a rowboat, and we wrote a message in a bottle and sailed it off near the same spot my Mom sent hers.

This lighthouse witnessed it all.
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They haven’t been found yet…

but maybe someday, the waters will be stirred up and their messages will be found. They will be opened by the hands of Adventurers. Perhaps the bottles are sitting nearby each other on the ocean floor. Seahorses swimming around them as the years pass.

With the internet making it so easy to communicate with people all over the world in an instant, the times of sending out a message in a bottle have faded. But I like to hold onto the mystery of connection and possible discoveries….

Have you ever sent a message in a bottle?

If you had one sentence to write to someone to find in the water 97 years from now…what would it be?


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