Turn back the clock to 1926. Imagine yourself a teenager, your whole life ahead of you, shining with possibility. It’s your birthday. As a gift to yourself, you toss a message in a bottle into the local river and watch it float from sight—never knowing if or when the bright-eyed boy you are now will reconnect with the man you’ll someday 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 captains Michigan-based Nautical North Family Adventures, spends her summers scuba diving and conducting shipwreck tours from her boat, the Yankee Sunshine. An avid collector, she was performing underwater maintenance on the glass-bottom window when she found a curious curio on the riverbed.
The bottle’s unusual antique shape and green glass were what first caught Dowker’s eye, but on closer inspection, she realized the find was something more. Though damaged and slightly water-logged, she and her crew learned the note inside the bottle had survived an amazing nine-plus decades in the water.
Dated November 1926, it read:
After posting a picture of the long-missing missive to Facebook, word spread like wildfire. More than 100,000 shares and 6,000 comments later, one curious reader managed to locate Morrow’s daughter, Michele Primeau (who “doesn’t do Facebook”) to tell her the story and give her Dowker’s contact information.
Morrow passed away in 1995, but Primeau recognized her father’s handwriting. With a habit of secreting small notes away in unlikely places, she said that sending a message in a bottle was very much in keeping with his sentimental character.
“I can just see him going out and doing that because it was his birthday,” Primeau told CNN. “I don’t know for sure. But it just sounds like something he would have done.”
Though initially, Dowker told Primeau she’d forward the mementos to her, after sleeping on the idea for a night, Primeau decided a policy of “finders keepers” would better serve her dad’s memory.
“I thought the right thing to do would be to give it to her,” Primeau told CNN. “She found it and that would keep my dad’s name living on.”
Indeed, Dowker plans to put the souvenirs on prominent display and pass the story behind them along, preserving Morrow’s legacy. Primeau has planned a September visit to view the family keepsakes in person.
Now, perhaps it was purely 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 he was still watching over her all these years later, she says it brought back a boatload of wonderful memories.