The story of the message in a bottle, destined for somewhere far away is nothing new, but most of those are just tales of fiction. Not all of them though.
While in Dekalb, Missouri, for spring break, 18-year-old Mason Jasinski of St. Peters, Missouri, shared his story of a message in a bottle that had quite a journey and created a story that will be told for the lifetimes of at least two unlikely new friends.
In 2012, then 12 years old, Jasinski had the idea to write a short note, place it in an old Gatorade bottle and see what happened next.
“I just tore a piece of paper in half and wrote ‘Hi, my name is Mason’ and all this other stuff,” Jasinski said. “And I just rode my bike down to the creek and just threw it in.”
The creek was Dardeene Creek in St. Peters. It meanders through the town, connecting to the Missouri River, the Illinois River or the Mississippi River depending on which of the creek’s turns you follow. Jasinski said he still visits the creek where he watched his message in a bottle float away — probably never to be found — and has often wondered over the years whatever came of it.
“I thought it would just wash up and never be found,” he said.
It did wash up as it ends up, on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River, an entire state away. Depending on the path it chose, the bottle traveled somewhere between 30 and 50 miles to reach its final destination in Grafton, Illinois, where it was discovered by Monmouth College sophomore Lily Lindner during a spring break trip with classmates to help clean up the Mississippi River.
Lindner said the bottle looked just like all the other bottles she’d picked up that day, but this particular bottle jingled. Maybe his plan all along, Jasinski had placed fifteen cents in nickels inside along with his note. The noise prompted Lindner to take a closer look and that’s when things came together.
“He wrote on the bottle, ‘Take me home!!!’ and we were like, ‘ah, man, we got to open this’,” Lindner said. “When you open up the message his childhood handwriting was in really neat block letters and the message itself was really endearing and so sweet.”
Over the course of six years, the message had wormed its way through creek after creek, twists, turns and at least one river eventually going from St. Peters all the way to that island in the Mississippi. According to Lindner, organizers of the river cleanup had joked earlier in the day about the prestige that comes with finding a message in a bottle during an outing. It’s a rare find, but it does happen, and within twenty minutes of being told about it Lindner said she’d hit the jackpot.
“The world stopped for a second. It was like slow motion and I was like, ‘Did I just find what I think I found’,” she said.
The next step was a natural one for the college student. She said she had to find Jasinski and used social media to do just that.
“I got on Facebook Messenger and like six people messaged me about ‘is this the right Mason?’ I was kind of confused and I went on the (cleanup organization’s website) and it said that someone had found the bottle.”
Lindner sent Jasinski several pictures of the bottle and the note contained within. He said he didn’t really remember what he’d written and he certainly never thought he’d see the message again. But now it’s the story that’s important, and it’s one that a group of college students from Illinois and a teenager from Missouri will now share forever.
“It’s kind of fun to think of all that’s transpired since this bottle has been in this creek. Personally and the world in general ... it’s like a little time capsule,” Lindner said. “That is absolutely correct. That is so accurate.”