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18 Years Later, Message in Bottle is Mailed Back

June 15, 1996 GMT

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ On a humdrum summer day at his grandparents’ cottage, 9-year-old Kevin Reeder thought it might be neat to have a pen pal. He put his wish in a bottle and tossed it into Cayuga Lake.

His note, brittle and slightly faded, was mailed back recently from San Diego _ 18 years later. Reeder figures the bottle floated down New York’s canals, picked up the ocean current and journeyed 25,000-plus miles around the world.

``For a little childhood gesture to have turned into this!″ said the amazed Reeder, now a 27-year-old restaurant manager. ``It’s like writing a letter to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny and hoping to get a response.″

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It was really his mother’s idea _ she was always dreaming up stuff to keep him busy. She wrote the note while the family was vacationing at the lakeside cottage in Ovid at the Finger Lakes.

It said, ``Hello, today is July 16, 1978. If you find this, please drop me a line.″ Included were Kevin’s name and address.

The note came back in a letter in February via his childhood home in Geneva, 38 miles southeast of Rochester.

``Hello Kevin. I found your message in a bottle at the beach in San Diego, California. I thought it would be funny to write back. Pretty cool! Bye now, Rosa & Bruce. _ P.S. Where the heck is Ovid?″

The senders remain unknown.