Barry McNamara  |   Published March 27, 2018

Message in a bottle

Monmouth student Lily Lindner makes rare find on spring break trip
  • Lily Lindner ’20 (right) shows off the message in a bottle she found while helping clean up trash in the Mississippi River. Also pictured is Mary Kate Luzzo ’18.
MONMOUTH, Ill. – When 12-year-old Mason Jasinski sent a message in a bottle on Sept. 9, 2012, from Dardenne Park in St. Peters, Mo., he wasn’t exactly sending out an “SOS to the world.”

But he did hope someone would one day find his scroll inside a plastic Gatorade bottle, which he titled, appropriately enough, “Message In A Bottle.”

Earlier this month, Jasinski’s five-year-old message was discovered by Monmouth College sophomore Lily Lindner while she was on an Alternative Spring Break trip to help clean up the Mississippi River near Grafton, Ill.

Lindner actually had finding a message in a bottle on her mind, as she had been told 20 minutes earlier of a fun game by supervisors from Living Lands and Waters, which oversaw the Monmouth students in their cleanup efforts.

“They had just explained an incentive they had for cleanup, with different items being worth certain points,” said Lindner. “It’s a way to make the cleanup process a little more fun. A message in a bottle is the top item you can find.”

Part of a crew working on an island in the middle of the Mississippi, Lindner and her co-workers were greeted by all sorts of trash.

“Closer to the bank, there were bottles all over the place – stuff that people probably threw over the side of their boats,” she said. “The bottle that I found with the message in it just looked a little bit different. It wasn’t disgusting and filled up with lots of mud or other trash.”

Back in 2012, Jasinksi had taken great care to protect his message, which was super-glued shut. The scroll inside was wrapped by a piece of fishing line, and he’d placed three nickels inside.

“I was hoping they were quarters,” said Lindner of the loose change. “I needed to do laundry.”

Although that “silver” lining didn’t quite pan out, there was another bright spot.

“I won the day,” said Lindner of the points contest within the crew.

Once Lindner found the little treasure and read its message, the next step was trying to connect with Jasinski to let him know his message had been received. She guessed he would be around her age and, after checking social media, found a likely hit and reached out to him.

“I sent him a message that said ‘I found your bottle,’” she said. “There was no immediate response, which made me think maybe it wasn’t him, but after a while, he messaged me back. He was blown away that someone had found it, and that it had made it that far (between 30 and 50 miles, depending on the route it took). He said he thought it would probably only drift a mile or so.”

As it turns out, the bottle was found not too far from Mason Island.

A Missouri newspaper and the CBS TV affiliate in St. Louis have heard about the story and covered it. Lindner knows her “15 minutes of fame” will expire soon, but the message in a bottle connection might live on.

“My younger brother will be attending the St. Louis College of Pharmacy this fall,” she said. “I told Mason we could meet and be friends. Maybe we’ll be friends for life.”
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