It’s something every child hopes to find on the beach — and it’s every sender’s dream that someone will — a message in a bottle.
Musician and writing teacher Cliff Buffington was vacationing in the Turks and Caicos when he made an unusual discovery on a beach after a strange object in the sand caught his eye.
“It just looked like it had been there since the beginning of time.”
It was a long-lost message, wrapped up inside a half-century-old coke bottle, with soggy words that provided Buffington with clues with which he could find the sender.
Buffington told WMUR9, “This coke bottle that was about halfway buried in the sand and … I mean … It just looked like it had been there since the beginning of time.”
He cracked open the bottle and unwrapped the sodden message.
“On the paper, there was something written in pencil — like handwriting — it said, ‘Look inside,’” he said.
What he found inside was quite unexpected.
“I could read words like ‘return’ and ‘Beachcomber,’” Buffington said.
Buffington learned that the mysterious message was cast out into the Atlantic sea more than five decades ago, about 1,500 miles away from where he found it, in the hopes it would one day make its way to ‘Tina’ of the ‘Beachcomber.’
The note said, “Return to 419 Ocean Blvd. and receive a reward of $150 from Tina, owner of the Beachcomber.”
It turns out the sender had quite a sense of humor.
Buffington finally tracked down the writer of the note as the former owner of the Beachcomber motel in the Hamptons, and he was able to reunite the note with the writer’s daughter, Paula Pierce.
Pierce thinks her dad, who passed away 26 years ago, wanted to tease his wife with the silly message in a bottle. It never made it to Tina or her father, however, as both have since passed. But it turned into a precious memento for his daughter, Paula.
“And it just hit me, it was my father’s writing,” Pierce said on seeing the note. “And I was shocked.”’
Pierce’s father wrote the note over 50 years ago as a joke after he and his wife purchased the Beachcomber in 1960, a motel in the Hamptons that the family sold just a few years ago. She told ABC News that $150 dollars at the time would have probably been about 7 rents, which was “[…] a lot of money back then.”
“It’s incredible. Yes, 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 kept true to her father’s word and awarded the Utah musician and writing teacher $150 dollars and said “[i]t is like completing the circle.” But the real reward was receiving the piece of precious history for Pierce and her family.
“This is special because it brings back a piece of him, a piece of her, a piece of my childhood, a piece of the Beachcomber,” Pierce said. “All of these things are very hard to lose.”