LANSING, Mich. — Finding a message in a bottle from years before...sounds more like a scene out of a book rather than a Thursday night.
Well that's exactly what happened to an Eaton Rapids man when he was out on the Grand River Thursday.
Stan Reinke was out on the Grand River in Eaton Rapids in his kayak like any other day. That's when he spotted the message in the bottle. At first he thought it was litter, so he picked it up, not knowing what he discovered.
"Then I noticed there was a stick in the bottle...so I was like, is this really a message in a bottle?" he said.
He was bow hunting out of his kayak, something he does frequently. Not missing a beat, he decided to throw the discolored, glass Coke bottle in the back of his kayak and look at it when he got home.
"I cracked it open thinking that it might be a local kid or something," Reinke explained. "And pulled the note out and we were kind of shocked to see the date on it....1976."
April 4th, 1976 to be exact. The bottle had been floating in the river for 43 years with the man's address scrawled on it. The writer introduced himself as Troy Braman, and he wanted the future reader to write him and tell him where he found it and what year it was....he had no idea it would be decades later.
"I was 14 when I threw it. I used to fish there all the time on that bridge, me and my brothers did, rode our bikes over there. It was probably just something to do. You want to see how far it can go, if you hear anything back, and I never heard anything back," Troy Braman said.
Braman is the man who wrote the note on the spring day in 1976. When he didn't hear anything back for a few months, he forgot about it, until Wednesday night when his wife was contacted by a friend who saw the picture of the note and bottle on Facebook.
"You know, I thought, forget about it. And then once I seen my signature on it kind of clicked in my head and I remembered doing it. But you wouldn't think that 43 years later you would get that information," he laughed.
Braman and Reinke were able to connect over Facebook, and found out they had a lot in common. Both had similar jobs, and both liked to hunt in that same spot along the Grand River...just a few decades apart. The two weren't that different after all, even at different points in their lives: one was a teenager just looking for something to do along the river in the 70's, the other hunting there in 2019.
"Just kind of amazing to think.... this is still here and still able to use this property in the same manner that I had been using it," Reinke said.
"Its amazing it made it that far...through all those years," Braman added.
Since posting about the bottle on social media, Reinke has had a lot of people reach out about it, wanting to do the same thing. But he says he doesn't want people to do that and wants to keep the rivers clean.
Reinke plans to send the message and the glass coke bottle back to Braman. Braman says he might have a few more bottles out there somewhere too.
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