SOS? Long lost love letter?

Couple solves mystery of bottle delivered by the gulf


One tiny bottle. Thousands of possibilities.

When Dennis Ammann reached into the waves and pulled a sealed, decorative glass bottle from the water his imagination soared.

“It could be something, it could be silly, you never know,” Dennis said.

This year marks Dennis and his wife Janet’s second winter on the gulf. The Wisconsin-based pair purchased a condo last year and was wading along the shoreline, searching for shells when Dennis discovered the bottle floating slowly toward land.

The interior of the glass was cloudy and partly filled with sand. But Dennis could see paper. And, part of a message. His mind swirled with scenarios.

The couple took it to the Baldwin County Heritage Museum. There they were told it might be one of the bottles a local pastor tossed into the ocean carrying messages of good will and inspiration. It might have ridden the waves that storms pushed from the Caribbean.

It might, be anything. It could be everything. It could also, be nothing.

“It would be really neat if it was a message of some sort,” Dennis said turning the bottle this way and that as he prepared to pry it open.

“It would be better if it was the deed to a condo,” Janet said with a laugh.

A small crowd gathered in the lobby of the couple’s Orange Beach condo to watch Dennis solve the mystery. The cork top popped out easily as Dennis prodded at it with a screwdriver. Sand is crusted in the bottle’s neck. Tiny strands of decaying rubberband drop from inside.

“It’s definitely packed with something. It’s like this isn’t the first one they’ve sent,” Dennis said.

Itty bitty shells, smaller than a fingernail, spill out when he shook the bottle. More sand. And then, paper. With words.

They are obviously computer printed.

Between the tattered pieces of wet paper Dennis recognizes one word: Share.

Janet leans back, thoughtfully.

“Maybe it’s a wedding favor,” she said.


Dennis prods more of the shredded paper. Tiny wet pieces of fall to the table.

More faded words emerge: Together. Life.

The mystery is officially solved. It all makes sense. “Share our life together.” Tiny perfectly shaped shells in a decorative bottle. It is indeed a wedding favor.

“I’m alright with it,” Dennis said still poking at the sand and shells falling onto the tabletop. “Maybe somebody will recognize it. It would be exciting for those people to know we found it.”

And his imagination is ready for the next gift from the waves.

“You really never know what you’ll find out there,” he said.