SEATTLE - Merle Brandell and his black lab Slapsey were beachcombing along the Bering Sea when he spied a plastic bottle among the Japanese glass floats he often finds along the shore of his tiny Alaskan fishing village.
He walked over and saw an envelope tucked inside. After slicing the bottle open, Brandell found a message from an elementary school student in a suburb of . The fact that the letter traveled 1,735 miles without any help from the U.S. postal service is unusual, but that's only the beginning of the mystery.
About 21 years passed between the time Emily Hwaung put the message in a soda bottle and Merle Brandell picked it up on the beach.
"This letter is part of our science project to study oceans and learn about people in distant lands," she wrote. "Please send the date and location of the bottle with your address. I will send you my picture and tell you when and where the bottle was placed in the ocean. Your friend, Emily Hwaung."
Brandell was able to track down Emily, now Emily Shih, and this part cracked me up:
"I don't remember the project. It was so long ago. Elementary school is kind of foggy," Shih admitted...
She also was a little chagrined by the offer to mail a photo to whomever found the letter and by the environmental implications of dropping plastic bottles in the ocean, and noted that times have changed a lot in 21 years. (boldface mine--Darren)
At least she absorbed the cultural fear and environmental brainwashing!