Message in a Very, Very Safe Bottle

Hi Readers! Here’s a cool story from the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, California. Can you spot the ridiculous safety precaution? Betcha can!

Long Beach pupils’ message in a bottle gets a reply — 10 years later

By Kevin Butler, Staff Writer
LONG BEACH – In 1999, a third-grade class at Mark Twain Elementary wrote letters that were put into bottles and dropped in the Pacific Ocean.  Incredibly, 10 years later – and from nearly 3,500 miles away – the school received a reply.

The bottle containing the May 25, 1999, letter was found June 20 on the shore of Sand Island, a coral island that is part of the Midway Atoll, located about 3,480 miles from Long Beach in the Pacific Ocean.

Sand Island is about one-third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo.

Lisa Dougan, who taught the third-grade class that authored the messages, said she never expected to get any replies after so many years….

Greg Goldsmith, who was working on the atoll as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said his son found the bottle on the shore when the child was helping clean up the area. At first Goldsmith was skeptical when his son Louis told him about the bottle.

“I thought, ‘Come on, he’s got to be joking,”‘ he said. “We looked at it, started reading it (and) realized that it … had been floating around in the ocean for 10 years,” he said. The letter read: May 25, 1999

Dear Finder,

What country are you from? Wheat (sic) date did you get this letter? When you get this letter please write back to me.

Mark Twain Elementary/ Ms. Dougan 3rd Grade/ Long Beach, CA 90808 USA

Senserly (sic), #16

Dougan said she had the students put numbers rather than names due to security concerns. She doesn’t recall the identity of student No. 16.

The teacher used numbers for security reasons? As the reader who sent this story to Free-Range Kids asks: “Would pirates have tracked the kid down by name if he had signed it ‘Freddie’?”

Hey, you can’t be too careful on the high seas.  — Lenore