Georgia couple discovers message in a bottle dated Sept. 26, 1988
They not only found the letter, but they also tracked down the middle-aged mother of three who wrote the message when she was only 8 years old.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On Saturday, a couple in Georgia was sweeping the beach for trash. Instead, they say they discovered the greatest treasure they've ever found.
"We are members of an organization called Friends of Sapelo," Linda Shouse Humphries, a resident of Darien, Georgia, told WDRB News by phone. "We were over on Saturday morning doing a beach sweep with about 11 people, and my husband always goes down to the very end because there tends to be more debris there."
But that day, he found more than debris, according to Humphries.
"He found this bottle that had a letter in it," Humphries said. "It was cracking as he opened it, so he slid the note out and threw the bottle away."
The note was a letter, written in a child's handwriting. The bottle contained sea shells as well. Humphries said her husband put the letter in his pocket for safe keeping.
It read as follows:
"Hello My name is Miranda Dawn Moss I am 8 years old. I am in third grade at Foster Park Union S.C. My home address is Rt 5 box 449A I came to Edisto Beach for a weekend. My...[this portion of the letter is indecipherable]...this letter please rite to Miranda Dawn Moss Rt 5 box 449a Union S.C. 29379."
Humphries said her husband showed her the note when they finished the beach sweep.
"A short while later, we met up on the beach, and he showed me the note," Humphries said. "I opened it and started reading and thought, 'Oh, this is cute -- this 8-year-old little girl, she'll be so excited if we write her back and send her something to her school!'"
Then she says she noticed the date -- which was written at the top of the note in different handwriting. It read: September 26, 1988. It had been written 29 years earlier.
"We couldn't wait to get home to start trying to track her down!" Humphries said.
"Her" turned out to be Miranda Moss Chavez, now of Columbia, South Carolina. Humphries says she was able to track Chavez down via Facebook.
WDRB News contacted Chavez by phone. Now a middle-aged mother of three, Chavez described what it was like to receive a picture of the long-lost letter she wrote when she was only a child.
"I immediately recognized it, and it really gave me cold chills because it was just so amazing that, after all this time, that it was found by someone and that they were actually able to find me, especially since I hadn't lived in Union in a long, long time," she said.
She says she hasn't seen the letter itself yet, but she's amazed at the picture.
"I can't believe that you can almost read every word of that letter -- and that it had been in the ocean in a bottle, and it didn't fill up with water or anything like that," she said.
Chavez says she has forgotten most of the events of the day she wrote the letter, but she does remember some things. She and her parents were on vacation at Edisto Beach in South Carolina. They would go there twice a year.
"I do remember it being too cold to go swimming," she recalled. "I mean, it's not like that now, but it was a lot colder -- it seems like -- then, and I was just looking for something to do."
That's when, she says, she came up with the idea to send a message in a bottle. She wrote the letter -- and she can explain why the date is written with different handwriting than the rest of the note.
"Because it was so long ago, I don't remember every single detail," she said. "But I do remember doing it, and I remember that I was gonna go ahead and put the note in and my mom reminded me to write the date. So my mom -- if you notice -- my mom wrote the date at the top, because you can tell the handwriting is so much better than my 8-year-old handwriting."
She can also explain the presence of the seashells.
"I put a few seashells in the bottom of the bottle to give it a little bit of weight," she laughed. "And I also took the wrapper off the bottle because I remember being worried that it would come off and a sea animal or something would eat it and it would hurt something."
After she tossed the bottle into the water, she hoped someone would find it and she would get a response. Days went by -- then weeks -- but nothing came in the mail.
"For a couple of years after, I thought about it all the time, and I was always hoping I would get a response," she said. "But the year after I was down there, [Hurricane] Hugo came through...so I really -- in my mind figured it was lost."
That is, until Saturday.
"I kind of feel like maybe it was a sign from God," she said, her voice breaking. "Because it came back, and it came back to me, and I've been going through some things in my life. So it was almost like hope."
Chavez says Humphries plans to mail the letter to her.
"I have every intention of trying to preserve it, and have it matted and framed or something, because I just can't -- you know it's just such an amazing thing that I can't just let it shrivel up," she added.
"I have three sons, and they were with me when I found out," she added. "They just couldn't believe it. They thought that it was the most awesome thing."
Chavez and Humphries say they haven't met in person yet, but they have exchanged Facebook messages.
"She seems like a really cool person," Humphries said. "I hope to meet her sometime."
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