On a summer day in 1986, two winemakers from Ohio swam to a small island near Bahia Honda State Park and buried a message in a bottle.
Saturday, Lisa Ranck Stacey and her husband were part of a crew on Big Pine Key cleaning a vacant lot in the Hurricane-Irma ravaged Avenues when they found it.
“My husband tossed it out to me from a vacant lot on Avenue F and said, ‘It’s a wine bottle,’ ” Stacey said.
After taking a closer look, Stacey said she was shocked and excited to see a message inside.
“When we went to get the cork out, the bottle broke into a million pieces,” she said.
The faded note reads: “On this summer day of nineteen hundred and eighty-six... We, Neil Johnson and Larry Wolkan, two Ohio wine makers, leave this legacy for you to find... Happily we may be remembered; Happily we may be forgot; Happily you drink our wine; Happily we rot.”
Stacey told the Keynoter she tracked down Wolkan’s sister, Beth Wehry, on Facebook who told her the men were inspired by an episode of “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” and later swam to Trinity’s Key near Bahia Honda State Park to bury the bottle. She said another was buried somewhere near the old Bahia Honda Bridge.
Wolkan and Johnson both live in Alliance, Ohio, and are reportedly still best friends, according to Wehry. Neither could be reached by press time.
Stacey’s bottle is the second to be found in the months following Hurricane Irma. Three weeks after the Sept. 10 storm, Ruth and Lee Huenniger found a bottle in Key Largo with a message inside from students in Forfar, Scotland. It was written in the 1980s.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219