It sounds like a scene straight out of a classic 90s movie: Four young boys gathered around a shiny blue bottle, crafting a message to hide inside before they cast it into the water.
But it really happened, and those kids never expected their message would make its way back to them 27 years later. When it did, the timing gave them “goosebumps.”
The Washington Post reports,
Brian Standefer was 10 years old in 1995, when he and three friends decided to write a note on a piece of cardboard, roll it up inside a bottle and toss it into a bayou in La Marque, Texas, near Galveston Bay.
They thought it would be cool if the message ended up halfway around the world, or at the very least, somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico, Standefer said.
“If you find this please call,” he wrote on the note, including two phone numbers. “If not home, leave it on answer machine. Please leave phone #.”
The boys quickly forgot about their “message in a bottle,” but they remained friends. As the years passed, Standefer stayed in touch with the others, Drew Plasek, Travis Casler and Lance Casler.
The other three were devastated when Travis Casler died of a heart attack a year and a half ago. So there was something extra special and meaningful about the surprise that came their way in July 2022.
Fast forward from 1995 to July 16, 2022, when a cleanup volunteer stumbled across the bottle by accident.
Terry “P.J.” Pettijohn, a cleanup volunteer with the Keep La Marque Beautiful Commission, was picking up trash in Mac McGaffey Highland Bayou Park on July 16 when he spotted an aqua blue Clearly Canadian water bottle partially buried in compacted mud along the shore.
He and his fellow volunteers called the numbers inside. They were out of service, so they turned to social media to find the people named on the note, and quickly connected with Standefer.
For Standefer, receiving the note was a wonderful reminder of his childhood friendships, especially with his friend who had recently passed away.
“To see my handwriting and my friends’ names was a surreal and emotional thing, especially since we’d lost Travis,” Standefer said.
He told the New York Post:
My best friend, he actually passed away a year-and-a-half ago. This gives me goosebumps. He had something to do with it, shining down, saying, “Everything is going to be okay.”
Finding a message in a bottle is exciting on its own. It was extra meaningful in this case, bringing a reminder of a beloved friendship, almost like a message of hope from beyond the grace.
Surely the four boys who set it afloat all those years ago never knew if or when it would be found. But God knew, and in his timing, it was just when they needed it.