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40 Year Old Message in a Bottle Was Written by “Bored” Girls

I never cease to be amazed by the power of messages in bottles to inspire people and bring folks together–to connect total strangers and create friendships where before there was nothing. And this 40 year old message in a bottle–which made my list of best messages in bottles found in 2015–is a great example of that. As the woman who sent it said herself, the finding of the message made her feel like anything is possible.

Mikki Stazel with 40 year old message in a bottle found in Alasksa

Mikki Stazel with Surly, examining the message in a bottle she found. Photo: Kevin Easley / PT Leader.

Well, the story is simple and sweet: Susan Cordell, 13, and Amy Heinkel, 11, were just “bored young junior high girls in 1975,” according to the PT Leader. So they decided to send a message in a bottle. They may have been “bored,” but I tend to think that their decision to send a message in a bottle taps into a deep and important element of humanity, which is our curiosity.

Anyway, as Susan’s mother recalled to the PT Leader,  “I have a vague recollection that we were down at the deli at the Town Tavern…I have a picture of us all sitting there and Amy joined us and then Amy and Susan went out with a bottle that they probably got from the deli at the Town Tavern.”

Susan’s mother speculated that one day in 1975, Susan and Amy just got the idea. Then they “decided to go out and try this romantic thing out of an old book,” according to the PT Leader.

So Susan wrote a simple note, and sealed it in the bottle.

Howdy, me Susan Cordell & Amy Heinkel decided to put a note in this bottle. If found please write to 639 Port Townsend Wash 98368. Reward if found…please send…

According to the PT Leader, the address in the note was once “the Town Tavern pub and eatery in the N.D. Hill Building at the corner of Water and Quincy streets [in Port Townsend, WA]. The former tavern space is now home of Conservatory Coastal Home, while Water Street Hotel is upstairs.” No one seems to know why Cordell would have listed that address, but her mom says that they all hung out there when it was a tavern/restaurant. In fact, that seems to be where Cordell got the receipt on which she wrote the note.

Full text of 40 year old message in a bottle found in Alasksa by Mikki Stazel

Susan Cordell’s Message in a Bottle from 1975. Photo: Kevin Easley / PT Reader.

40 Year Old Message in a Bottle Found

Fast forward four decades to 2015. One day, Mikki Stazel and her boyfriend Kevin Easley went beachcombing on Okalee Spit in Alaska, near Kayak Island. They told the PT Leader that they went in opposite directions on the beach, and Mikki, with her dog Surly, discovered the bottled note and brought it back to show Kevin. Together, they busted the bottle open on a log right there on the windy beach! Let me just say: They are braver souls than I am. I mean, holy crap! It is a miracle that the 40 year old, brittle paper in the bottle didn’t get completely destroyed. If you watch the video, you can even see the notes blowing away down the beach, and Surly chasing them. It gives me palpitations to watch! All I can say is that it was pure luck. As you can see from the photos, the message was very brittle indeed. Some of it had already crumbled away. It boggles the mind that enough of the note survived for them to find Susan Cordell.

Susan' Cordell's 40 year old message in a bottle after being broken open by MIkki Stazel who found it.

Susan Cordell’s Message with Broken Bottle. Photo: Kevin Easley / PT Leader.

But they did find her! And the foggy memory of sending the 40 year old message in a bottle swam back into view… It brought back memories of a different, much simpler time. For fun, she and her friend Amy (co-sender of the note) would get together on weekends and bake cookies. As a baker myself, I think that is just lovely. Do kids still do this? I know there are bigger things to be concerned about these days, but I, for one, really hope that kids still hang out to bake stuff on weekends.

Speaking of–Susan and Amy promised a “reward” in their 40 year old message in a bottle. Well, Amy’s sister, Lisa, suggested that they all get together to bake a batch of their old favorite cookies and send them to Mikki and Kevin in Alaska, according to the PT Leader. So far, there is no word on whether the cookies have made it to Alaska…

Route of 40 year old message in a bottle in Pacific

Likely route of Susan Cordell’s message in a bottle from Port Townsend, WA to Alaska. Image: Q13 Fox Seattle.

Today, Susan Cordell is a scientist living in Hawaii. When she learned of her message’s discovery, Susan Cordell told Fox 13 in Seattle it made her feel “like anything is possible”.

Well, I agree. And here at the beginning of 2018, I say cheers to a new year full of new possibilities. With any luck, it will be for each of us a year of thrilling discoveries and new friendships and adventures. After all, anything is possible!

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