Sandy Reveals 50-Year-Old Message-In-a-Jar


(AP) – Fifty years ago, a 12-year-old boy named Dennis Komsa wrote a note, sealed it in a glass jar, and cast it into the Atlantic Ocean while he was in Seaside Heights on vacation with his family.

About a week after Superstorm Sandy hit, Norman Stanton was wading through storm debris outside his sister’s home in that Ocean County community when he noticed a glass jar that sat away from the other trash. He propped it on the deck and got back to work.

Whether buried in the sand or under the boardwalk, the jar that Komsa threw in the water was long forgotten. That is, until Sandy found it.

After five decades, the jar ended up about two-tenths of a mile from the spot on Sampson Avenue where it was cast in 1963. The Ball Mason jar carrying a note, a 1958 nickel and an envelope with a return address got caught in the superstorm’s surges and rode the waves into Sharon Roher’s driveway on the first block of Kearney Avenue.

“It looked like it was meant to be found,” Stanton, 53, of Chalfont, Pa., said.

The note Stanton found and shared with his older sister, Roher, 60, was written on Saturday, Aug. 16, 1963. Inked neatly in blue, all-capitalized letters, it read: “To whom it may concern, Please fill out the following questions and mail. This is a scientific experiment by Dennis Komsa, age 12.”

It included his Paterson address and noted that 5 cents was enclosed to buy the stamp needed to reply. Here’s what he wanted to know: Where was the jar found? When was it found? How was it found? “Anything else which might help me?”

Komsa, now 61, was a little surprised to learn his experiment had been recovered.

“Things happen for a reason. I guess it’s good it came to shore. It shows anything is possible,” he said.

On Saturday, Komsa got to meet the people who found the jar and finally get the answers to his questions.

The borough hosted a luncheon in honor of its 100th birthday this year. Arthur Fierro, president of the Property Owners Association in Seaside Heights, found Komsa and invited him as a guest to meet Roher and Stanton.

Komsa called to see if his jar broke any Guinness World Records, but learned his would have had to stay buried another half century. The current record is for a bottle found in 2012 by a fisherman from the United Kingdom after it spent 97 years and 309 days at sea.