Well-travelled bottle generates reply three years later
BELMONT - Michaela Priest has gone postal.
But, in a good way.
The nine-year-old was shocked but delighted to receive a response to a message she sent out to sea nearly three years ago.
The Belmont resident and her younger sister Mallory have made a tradition out of sending messages in a bottle each summer they spend at Spencer's Island, near Advocate.
Priest received a letter in the mail last Tuesday from a man in Sunderland, United Kingdom. "I didn't really know what to expect," she said.
Priest has received replies to other messages that she sent, but none from a distance as great as this one.
"His name is Bob Batt," explained Priest, "He found the bottle when he was going through his wife's stuff, she died from cancer."
In his reply to Priest, 87-year-old Batt explained that his wife must have picked up the bottle on her trip to Lunenburg in 2006 and brought it back home to the United Kingdom.
Batt believes that his wife was planning to reply to Priest because of some pencil marks he noticed on the letter but she took ill before she was able to respond.
Priest took Batt's letter to school the next day and showed all her friends.
"They were excited," she said, "I'm going to reply to him soon."
In his letter to Priest, Batt explained that his wife was very impressed with her stay in Lunenburg, and as an artist, she loved the intensity of the light there.
"Joy was always very busy with painting, drawing and working with glass, and keeping in touch with our children and grandchildren," wrote Batt.
Priest has had pen pals before, but was especially excited to receive such a kind response from a complete stranger.
"We have never met the Queen," wrote Batt. "But Joy was chosen to be part of a group that welcomed her when she came to the city some while ago. Joy said she is a bit smaller than you imagine, with a lovely smile."
Priest now keeps the letter and envelop in a keep-safe box in her room.
Batt explained to Priest that the plastic bottle must have made quite a trip, from Lunenburg, to Guelph, Ont., to Newcastle-upon-Tyne by airmail, and from there to their home in Sunderland by rail and taxi.
He advised Priest to be kind to her folks, and to do her homework.