1915 Message in a Bottle Surfaces in Detroit

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1915 Message in a Bottle Surfaces in Detroit

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St. Claire River, northeast of Detroit, near where two girls dropped a message in a bottle almost 100 …

Growing up near one of Michigan's Great Lakes, a favorite summer pastime was sending messages via bottle. Weaned on lake lore, my best friend and I heard of olden-days kids bottle-messaging and made our own. We'd toss them into Lake Michigan, wondering where they'd wash up and who would find them. Two other Michigan girls had the same idea. Their message in a bottle turned up recently in Detroit -- 97 years after it had been sent, says the Detroit Free Press.

Harsens Island Find

On a June day in 1915, Selina Pramstaller and Tillie Esper (both of Detroit) enjoyed a ferry ride to Tashmoo Park on Harsens Island in Lake St. Clair (northeast of Detroit). The Harsens Island St. Clair Flats Historical Society says the Tashmoo Ferry brought Victorian-Edwardian-era visitors to the thriving amusement park on the island. These two wanted to commemorate their visit. So they penciled, "Having a good time at Tashmoo" on a deposit ticket stub, listed their addresses, popped it in a condiment bottle (from a day picnic, perhaps?), and dropped it overboard. Last June, Great Lakes Divecenter owner Dave Leander found the bottle nestled in silt near where the ferry docked.

The historical society recently found out about Leander's find. Bernard Licata, president of the Harsens Island St. Clair Flats Historical Society, told the Detroit Free Press, "What's cool about this, it's a document that's been preserved, sent nearly 100 years ago and never got delivered." Licata is trying to track down descendants of Selina and Tillie.

Tashmoo Days

Harsens Island, on the Canadian border, was home to San Souci, one of Michigan's charming turn-of-the-century summer resort communities. Park and village have mostly disappeared in sand and time. But the St. Clair Flats Historical Society brings the period to life at Tashmoo Days, taking place on Saturday, July 20 this year. Admission to the festival is free, though a $10 donation will get you VIP seating, special presentations, and entries in door prize drawings.

Take a ferry over, as Selina and Tillie did. Sample old-fashioned foods, beer, and wine. Enjoy reenactments, kids' games, native Ojibwe music, and dancing. Explore the island. Visit the vintage fire house (funds raised go toward its preservation and restoration). Experience the magic of a times-past Michigan summer. Check out Harsens Island for venues, lodging, and dining.

A teacher and Michigan native, Marilisa Sachteleben writes about items of interest in her state's most pivotal city of Detroit.

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