In 1960, Paula Pierce’s father bought the Beachcomber Motel with Tina, his wife. As a joke, he wrote a message and sealed it in a Coke bottle, tossing it into the Atlantic Ocean with the knowledge that it most likely would never be found. It read:
Return to 419 Ocean Blvd. and receive a reward of $150 from Tina, owner of the Beachcomber.”
But when the bottle was discovered by Clint Buffington, a writing teacher from Utah, over 1,500 miles away and 50 years later, neither Tina nor Pierce’s father were still living. He could make out faint writing on the outside of the rolled paper that said “look inside,” and when he did, he had a hard time figuring out what the writing said.
Weathered by time, moisture, and the elements, the paper was heavily degraded, but Bufington could make out the address, ‘return,’ Tina, and Beachcomber. This led to an incredible search that allowed Pierce one last reunion with her father, something that she never thought would happen.
He found that the Beachcomber Motel had been sold, but a search led him to Pierce, who confirmed that it was her father’s handwriting.
This is special because it brings back a piece of him, a piece of her, a piece of my childhood, a piece of the Beachcomber,” Pierce said. “All of these things are very hard to lose.”
To further honor her father, she gave Buffington the $150 reward, telling him that he did his part and to let her do hers. But the bigger reward was seeing the bottle brought home, and giving her one last glimpse into her father’s life.