December 14, 2012

Message in bottle matched to writers


---- — PLATTSBURGH— The three children who sent a bottled message via Lake Champlain last summer were hoping it would reach Vermont. 

They figured the bottle would take a long time to get there — five years by their estimation — and that when it reached its destination, it would be a pristine time capsule.

Ella Coonrod of Willsboro read about a bottle washing up on a Plattsburgh shore in the Press-Republican, and she thought she knew who had penned the letter inside. While the youngsters hadn’t included their last names, Coonrod’s longtime neighbor Kathleen Barone has two grandchildren who fit the bill, and she remembered them visiting last summer.

“The name Connor rang a bell. I knew that was the name of our next-door neighbor’s grandson,” Coonrod said.

She sent a clipping of the story to Barone, who lives in Poughkeepsie with her son Carl during the rest of the year, and confirmed her theory.

Though their bottle’s voyage was limited to just a couple of weeks, Connor and Caylea Barone said their message was a success. 

Caylea, 13, had written the letter during a visit to their family’s summer home. A drought had made Lake Champlain the lowest she had ever seen it, and she watched her brother Connor, 15, dig a canal in the sand to bring water back up the beach. Somewhere along the line, she decided to write about it.

“School was starting in a few days,” Caylea said in a phone interview. “We really just wrote the message and didn’t think it would go anywhere. We wrote about how the water has receded because we were in a drought and how there was a really big beach.”

Caylea cut the cork from a wine bottle to fit it to the long green bottle she chose and intended to drop it off the ferry during a trip to Burlington. However, she forgot the bottle and had to find a different way to get it out on the lake.

With the help of friend and schoolmate Nicole Crispino, whom the Barones had invited to stay with them, Caylea rowed a raft out into open water and set the bottle afloat. The two watched it for 45 minutes until they could not see it anymore.

Carl, who is Connor and Caylea’s father, said that even though he did not know about the message in a bottle until after it was sent, he has come to expect these sorts of pleasant surprises from his children.

“Nothing they do surprises me. They are pretty clever kids, very ambitious,” he said. “They keep us on their toes, and they are good kids.”

He said that his mother was the most excited about the message winding up in the paper and that he had sent a photo of the children to Lynne Layman, the Plattsburgh local who found the bottle.