Fifty years ago a 12-year-old boy threw a message in a bottle out into the ocean. The message ended up being a lot closer to him than he realized. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — Dennis Komsa was 12 years old in 1963 when, while vacationing with family along the Jersey Shore, he wrote a note, put it in a glass jar and tossed it into the Atlantic Ocean.
Peter Ackerman / Asbury Park Press
Arthur Fierro, left, president of Property Owners Association of Seaside Heights, Sharon Roher, whose property the jar washed up on after the storm, and her brother, Norman Stanton, who found the bottle when he was helping to clean up debris. Dennis Komsa threw the jar into the waters off Seaside Heights 50 years ago.
It surfaced about a half century later.
Shortly after Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast last October, Norman Stanton found the Ball mason jar while combing through storm debris at his sister’s home in Seaside Heights, N.J.
He placed the jar on a deck as he continued working through the debris, later opening it and discovering it contained the note, a 1958 nickel and an envelope with a return address.
The jar, it turned out, had only traveled about two-tenths of a mile, from Sampson Avenue, where Komsa threw it into the drink, to Sharon Roher’s driveway on the first block of Kearney Avenue.
Somehow, Sandy, which devastated parts of the popular oceanside community, had revealed Komsa's long-hidden note, and now has rekindled childhood memories.
“It reminds me a lot of time we spent at the shore,” Komsa told NBC News. “Every August — all these things flash through your head.”
The note, written on Saturday, Aug. 16, 1963, was neatly penned in blue ink and all capital letters.
“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN, PLEASE FILL OUT THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS AND MAIL. THIS IS A SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT BY DENNIS KOMSA, AGE 12.”
Dennis Komsa's note was put in a jar and thrown into the Atlantic Ocean in 1963.
The jar also included an envelope addressed to Komsa’s Paterson, N.J., home – the nickel was for a stamp -- so the note could be returned.
The note had a series of questions:
"WHERE WAS THE JAR FOUND?
"WHEN WAS IT FOUND?
"HOW WAS IT FOUND?"
And, “ANYTHING ELSE WHICH MIGHT HELP ME?”
Komsa, now 61 and living in Hillsborough, N.J. said he was surprised by the jar’s discovery.
“Things happen for a reason,” he told the Asbury Park Press. “I guess it’s good it came to shore. It shows anything is possible.”
On Saturday, Komsa got the chance to meet Stanton, 53, and Roher, 60, at a luncheon arranged by Arthur Fierro, president of the Property Owners Association in Seaside Heights.
For Roher, who helped in the massive cleanup after Sandy, the jar was another story to tell amid the turmoil caused by the storm.
"The jar was very emotionally uplifting to me. I was very sore and tired from working all the time," Roher said.
And it was a jar that carried a much bigger message.
"If I can throw this bottle and believe it will come back, or I’d get it back, then Seaside can come back and will be as good or better," Komsa said.
Kim Cornett of NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.