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A journey of 36-years

                                                                                                                                         Photo submitted
Jimmy Humphrey was riding his ATV in the river bottoms when he found the message in a bottle.

By Shari Harris


Twelve-year-old Jimmy Humphrey began a three-day adventure last Monday, April 20, when he found an old Dr. Pepper bottle in the Gasconade river bottoms near Hermann. The bottle itself was of little interest, but the note inside captured the attention of Jimmy, his family, many Facebook followers and the media for days afterward.

                                                              Photo submitted
The old glass Dr. Pepper bottle survived 36 years and 
nearly 200 miles without breaking, protecting the message inside.
  The note read, “To whom it may concern: This bottle was thrown in at Dog’s Bluff! (Houston, MO) If you find it please reply to:
712 N Grand
Houston, MO 65483
Happy fishing!!
March 24, 1984
3:00 p.m.
Jimmy used a Missouri map to trace the route the bottle had taken. It travelled along the Big Piney River from near Houston to its junction with the Gasconade River in Pulaski County, then downstream along the Gasconade to Hermann. It surprised him to learn that his parents were only 12 when the bottle started its journey.
Cristen Humphrey, Jimmy’s mother, posted a story about his find on Facebook and invited her friends to join the fun by sharing the post. She suggested the mystery as a distraction from the coronavirus.
The message in the bottle was shared numerous times, over a large geographic area. Two days later, Humphrey updated her post with new leads, including the names of Roger and Wilma Hurst who owned the home at the given address in 1984.
By the third day, the mystery was solved. Krista Thomas sent the Humphreys a message identifying her husband as the one who sent the bottle on its 36-year journey.
Willow Springs police officer John Thomas was only 6-years-old when he begged his mother, Wilma Hurst, to help him write the letter. He put the paper in the bottle then threw it as hard as he could. When he watched it float out of sight, he never believed anyone would find it. The more than three decades and nearly 200 miles that have passed between then and now only heightened the surprise that it was found.
The journey of the bottle through those years and miles will remain a mystery, but in this writer’s view, the discovery of the bottle couldn’t have come at a better time for the many COVID-weary people who participated in finding its origin.


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