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From New Hampshire to Turks and Caicos: Message in bottle found 50 years later killer whale breaching off the shores of California. Photo by Mike Baird.

Dad’s message in a bottle

A New Hampshire man wrote out a brief note and stuffed it into a coke bottle and threw it into the ocean way back in about 1960. It took over 5 decades but it was found, in some sand — on a Caribbean beach 1900 miles away.

It was found by Clint Buffington, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah but was vacationing in the Turks and Caicos when he came across the bottle. Buffington, a writing teacher and a musician, found it sticking out of sand on a remote beach on one of the islands a few years ago.

“(I saw) this coke bottle half-buried in the sand (that) looked like it had been there since the beginning of time,” Buffington told WMUR-TV. “On the paper, there was something written in pencil — like handwriting — and it said ‘Look inside.”

That is naturally what he did. So what did the note say? Well, nothing too interesting, simply: ‘Return to 419 Ocean Blvd. and receive a reward of $150 from Tina, owner of the Beachcomber.’

Trip to New Hampshire

Over time Buffington tracked down the Beachcomber at the street address given and found it in Hampton, New Hampshire; he learned that the Pierce family owned it at the time the bottle was tossed into the ocean (they sold it just a few years ago). He flew there recently and did as the note suggested — returned it and the bottle. Paula Pierce was thrilled, recognizing her late-father Paul’s handwriting.

“It just hit me,” she said. “It was my father’s writing. And I was shocked. It’s incredible. He wrote this. His hands were on this. He’s been gone 26 years and he put this in a bottle and it survived.”

She believes he threw it in the Atlantic not long after buying the Beachcomber in 1960. Pierce insisted Buffington take the $150, which of course didn’t pay for his trip or time spent. But he did it for adventure and to complete the circle of the message in a bottle.

Indeed, he told Pierce there was a reason that he waited until he was able to return it in person. “It doesn’t say ‘mail it to 419 Ocean Boulevard,'” he noted. “It says ‘return it’, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Paula Pierce was plenty grateful. “The significance of the message in the bottle was not lost on him,” she pointed out. “It took him to find it, and it took him to come across the country and bring it to me.”

Would you have?


About the Author

Marcus Hondro
Marcus Hondro

Actor, writer, father, gadfly, ‘Nucks fan.

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