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Strangers Track Down Writer Who Launched Message in a Bottle Nearly a Century Ago


Jennifer Dowker / Nautical Family Adventures of the North

Turn back the clock to 1926. Imagine a teenager, with his whole life ahead of him, sparkling with possibilities. It’s your birthday. As a gift to yourself, you drop a message in a bottle into the local river and watch it float out of sight, not knowing if the bright-eyed boy you are now, or when, will reconnect with the man in whom some day you will become.

While that may not have been the exact scenario, 95 years later the message, if not the bottle, has finally found its way home.

Jennifer Dowker, who runs Michigan-based Nautical North Family Adventures, spends her summers diving and wreck tours from her ship, the Yankee Sunshine. An avid collector, she was performing underwater maintenance on the glass bottom window when she found a curious curiosity in the river bed.

The bottle’s unusual antique shape and green glass were the first things that caught Dowker’s eye, but on looking closer, he realized the find was something else. Although damaged and slightly flooded, she and her team learned that the note inside the bottle had survived more than nine decades in the water.

Dated November 1926, it read:

Will the person who finds this bottle return this paper to George Morrow Cheboygan, Michigan and tell where it was found?

Jennifer Dowker / Nautical Family Adventures of the North

After posting a photo of the missing letter on Facebook, word spread like wildfire. Over 100,000 shares and 6,000 comments later, a curious reader managed to locate Morrow’s daughter, Michele Primeau (who “doesn’t use Facebook”) to tell her the story and give her Dowker’s contact information.

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Morrow passed away in 1995, but Primeau recognized his father’s handwriting. In the habit of keeping small notes in unlikely places, he said that sending a message in a bottle was very much in keeping with his sentimental nature.

“I can see him go out and do that because it was his birthday,” Primeau said. CNN. “I do not know for sure. But it sounds like something he would have done. “

Although Dowker initially told Primeau that he would send the souvenirs to him, after sleeping with the idea for one night, Primeau decided that a “searcher-keeper” policy would better serve his father’s memory.

“I thought the right thing to do would be to give it to him,” Primeau told CNN. “She found it and that would keep my dad’s name alive.”

In fact, Dowker plans to display the memorabilia prominently and share the story behind them, preserving Morrow’s legacy. Primeau has planned a visit in September to see the family memories in person.

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Now maybe it was pure coincidence, but this whole episode happened on Father’s Day weekend. Even if it wasn’t George Morrow’s way of letting his little girl know that he was still taking care of her all these years later, she says it brought back a lot of wonderful memories.

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