SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (USA TODAY) -- 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 on vacation with his family in New
The jar was long forgotten. That is, until Superstorm Sandy found it.
a week after Sandy hit the Jersey Shore last fall, Norman Stanton was
wading through storm debris outside his sister Sharon Roher's Seaside
Heights home when he noticed a glass jar that sat away from the other
"It looked like it was meant to be found," Stanton, 53, of Chalfont, Pa., told the Asbury Park Press.
The jar had been washed onto Roher's driveway, about two-tenths of a mile from the where Komsa had cast it in 1963.
The note inside was written on Saturday, Aug. 16, 1963. Inked neatly in blue, all-capitalized letters, it read:
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, N.J., address and noted that a nickel was enclosed to buy the stamp needed to reply.
Here's what Komsa 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 and living in Hillsborough, was a little surprised to learn his 1963 experiment had been recovered.
"Things happen for a reason," he said. "I guess it's good it came to shore. It shows anything is possible."
On Saturday, Komsa and Roher met for the first time -- a day
after the 50th anniversary of the jar's ocean release -- during a
celebration of Seaside Heights' 100th birthday held at the Beachcomber.
"Thanks," Komsa told Roher when the two came face-to-face. "It's like a big circle."
Komsa cast the jar out to sea 50 years ago,
he said he didn't think it would ever be found. It was just one of
various activities that he and his father did together during their
summer vacations in the borough.
"Kids used to have to be more
creative when we were 12 years old," Roher said. "You had to think of
things to keep yourself occupied ... there was nothing to turn on, so we
did a lot of arts and crafts."
The jar must have been caught in
Sandy's surges Oct. 29 and rode the waves into Roher's driveway on the
first block of Kearney Avenue - just two-tenths of a mile from the spot
on Sampson Avenue where it was thrown in the water.
"I told him (Komsa) he should buy a Powerball ticket," Roher said, laughing. "Luck seems to run in threes."
said she and Komsa will now stay in touch through email, though the
group toyed with the idea of throwing their own bottle out to sea.
"(It's) something fun that is, but isn't, part of the disaster," said Roher, who lost two rental units in the storm.
The group also agreed the jar carried with it another message not written on the note inside it.
"It's a homecoming for you (Dennis) and it's a real hope for a lot of people," said Pam Komsa, Dennis's wife.
When you're a kid, you believe anything is possible, Dennis Komsa said.
you throw in a bottle, figure somebody's going to find it and the
note," he said. "And sure enough, the bottle came back. It's the same
way with Seaside. If you believe it will come back, it will come back."
said he called to see if his jar had broken any Guinness World Records,
but learned it would have had to stay buried for nearly another half
century. A bottle found in 2012 by a fisherman from the United Kingdom
had spent 97 years and 309 days at sea, according to the Guinness