Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hittin' the Bottle

Here's something we all wanted to do as least, I say "we" when "we" were in that Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer mode, before the blossoming beauty of Becky Thatcher called us all away from our busy days of catching frogs and building rafts and dams and fishin' in the crick and doing the guy stuff. We all wanted to send a message by writing something profound, enclosing it in a bottle and then tossing said bottle into the raging sea. We always figured, old Huck and I, that our bottle would provide entertainment and reading matter for the crew of Kon-Tiki II or something. This was in The SUN:

A Maryland student's note stuffed in a corked wine bottle spent five years bobbing across the Atlantic until it was washed ashore this summer on an English beach, where it was picked up by a retired electrician walking his golden retriever.For seven weeks, Tony Hoskings, who lives in
Cornwall, tried to find the note's author. He searched the Internet and sought the help of his local newspaper. This week, he found him - 19-year-old Daniel Knopp, who is a political science major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.Knopp was a 14-year-old student at Havre de Grace High School traveling with his parents and sister aboard the Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, when he wrote the short note in June, 2004, inserted it in a discarded wine bottle, corked it and tossed it from his family's stateroom balcony.The ship, on a cruise from Baltimore to the Caribbean, had just departed Freeport in the Bahamas."I never thought of it again," Knopp said. "I completely forgot about that day. I thought it would be unreal if it were ever to be found, but I figured it would be destroyed by the ocean environment." It washed up at Perranporth, where Hoskings found it July 18."There is a group of us who walk our dogs on the beach," he said. "I know the bottle washed in that day because the beach is swept clean every day by a machine." Hoskings, who lives in nearby Goonhavern, said he decided to make a family event out of his discovery and waited until his grandchildren came for a visit the next Thursday. When the note wouldn't come out easily, he took a glass cutter and opened the bottle's bottom.The assembled family read the note, which said: "Hello, my name is Daniel Knopp. I am on a cruise ship. I hope whoever reads this finds great joy. God bless. I live in the Baltimore/DC area."The message piqued Hoskings' interest about the sender."It was quite a journey, and if you traveled all those thousands of miles, I think you would want your people to know you had made it safely," Hosking said.He said the green-glass bottle was encrusted with barnacles. It had lost its label but its bar code remained"It was amazing how readable the message was," Hoskings said.He turned to Facebook and found an entry but was not sure it was the right Knopp. He also contacted his local newspaper, the West Briton. A reporter there, Josie Purcell, contacted journalists at The Baltimore Sun.Knopp, who had been a summer intern at Baltimore's City Hall on a mayoral fellowship, turned up on Internet searches and, on Sunday, he confirmed that he was the author of the message in the bottle."It's a very novel story, truly romantic in the classic nautical sense," said Harrison Liu, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean International.

So, besides making me wonder what Tom Sawyer's Facebook page would look like, this makes me think of how cool it must be to be a guy in Cornwall, England, who gets to prowl the beach every afternoon, finding cool stuff that's been washed ashore before rushing home to dinner (Cornish game hen, what else?) Then I got to thinking about how cool it would be to come from a town called Goonhavern (you just know what the nickname for the high school sports team is, don't you?!?!) and then I got to thinking about what messages other people might encase in glass and toss seaward.

HELP PLEASE Trying to provide affordable health care insurance to a vast post-industrial nation...meeting opposition...please advise - BHO, DC

My Husband and I have eight kids and were briefly renowned...fame is fleeting...need help thinking less about our nascent fame and more about the kids...J&K, PA

I quit, I come back, I quit, I come back. I don't know what to do with myself. Is life just a passing fancy? Bret from Mississippi

Hello! I come on TV every afternoon and provide a harrowing glimpse at American jurisprudence, humiliating all who dare seek justice. I'm smarter than everyone. WRITE BACK TO ME! Judge J.

I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star
to steer her by John M.

I just wonder how Huck and Tom would have felt, had the only bottle they had at their disposal once contained Diet Cherry Dr Pepper.

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