On their regular rounds on the shores of Cockspur Island, the maintenance staff at Fort Pulaski National Monument recently found a message in a bottle. Written on July 23, 1981, by 11-year-old Kirk Hines, the letter was yellowed with age and rolled in a tube inside a Grolsch beugel type beer bottle with a swing-top cap, along with the pencil that young Kirk had written the letter with.
The staff went about their daily tasks and eventually the bottle ended up on the desk of Gloria Lee, the park’s chief of interpretation. Intrigued by the 30-year-old find, Gloria sought out the author of the message. On January 7th, she sent a letter to a Kirk Hines, who she hoped was the same Kirk Hines that had sent the message in a bottle in 1981.
Twenty days later, on January 27th, Kirk called Gloria. He was indeed the same Kirk Hines. Now a horticultural therapist in Atlanta, he had excitedly shared Gloria’s letter with co-workers and patients. Kirk had thrown the bottle out into the Atlantic Ocean on a summer family trip to Tybee Island off the Georgia coast and was happy to hear that his message in a bottle had been discovered.
Nearly 30 years after it was released, the bottle and all its contents were returned to Kirk, along with a Fort Pulaski Junior Ranger badge – a prize we imagine the 11-year-old Kirk would have treasured, and hopefully the 41-year-old Kirk will too.