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Messages have come a long way

Posted on February 9, 2017 | Comments

The weather predictions definitely got it right in January. The rains came and so did some unusual debris that washed up along the banks of Aliso Creek. During a recent morning walk, I noted the typical items that go with a rainstorm and then there were a few oddballs—literally. The ping pong ball got my attention the most. From what table did it bounce off of and how far had it traveled before landing near the new bridge in Laguna Woods? If only it could talk or at least came with a note attached similar to the well-known messages in a bottle.

Messages in bottles have been used in scientific studies of ocean currents, as well as to send distress messages, memorial tributes, final reports and letters from those believing themselves to be doomed, invitations to prospective pen pals, and letters to actual or imagined love interests. My favorite purpose is when they have a romantic or poetic nature.

Bottled messages date back to about 310 B.C., for use in water current studies by the Greek philosopher, Theophrastus. They have a rather unique and varied history from that time on. In 1177 A.D, The Tale of the Heike records that an exiled poet launched wooden planks inscribed with poems about his plight. In the sixteenth century, fearing messages in bottles contained secrets from British spies, Queen Elizabeth ordered the death penalty for those caught launching them. Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens were fascinated with bottled messages often referring to them in their writings.

The oldest known message in a bottle is reported to be 101 years. In 1913, Richard Platz tossed a bottle with a message in the Baltic Sea. Konrad Fischer found the bottle in 2014. The happy ending is that it was presented to the sender’s granddaughter according to a Hamburg museum. The internet made it possible for Frank Uesbeck and Daniil Korotkikh to meet after Frank put a message in a bottle while traveling with his father on a ship to Denmark. Jonathan did not have the same luck. He never connected with his beloved Mary when the message he wrote was found in a bottle 6,000 kilometers from where he launched it 28 years earlier.

With environmental sensitivities, we have more reliable ways to communicate our messages to others. Heart’s Day is around the corner offering an opportunity to creatively share your feelings with those you love. You can even deliver them in a bottle…just don’t launch it, okay?


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  1. interesting trivia I never hear about. Thanks…
    Happy Hearts day

    • That’s what motivates me to research and write about unknown stuff. Happy V day to you too! Eager to see your latest hat!

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