Found, after all these years

An East Patchogue woman recently found a 47-year-old science experiment washed up on a Brookhaven hamlet shore

Bill Kiriazis and his class at William Floyd High School were studying the current patterns around the Great South Bay. That was 47 years ago, but a piece of that experiment was just found on a shore in Brookhaven hamlet.

“Oh my word!” was the reaction of Susan Hennes, 75, of East Patchogue when she found the bottle, half-buried in the sand around the corner from Beaver Dam Creek where it meets the bay. Hennes walks and collects things often in that area (including bottles), but was surprised and delighted to find something as significant as this. She found the bottle with the note inside a couple of months ago, but had minor leg surgery shortly after and couldn’t follow through with returning it. Finally, she reached out to a friend — a security guard at the high school — who connected Hennes to the right people to deliver the bottle back.

The note inside the bottle, dated Dec. 1, 1972, says that it was a science experiment and if found, to return it to William Floyd High School, for a reward of $50. Hennes said she didn’t want the reward; she just wanted to use the experience to inspire students to keep learning.

“It will give incentive to these kids to work on more projects,” she said. “They deserve the whole thing.”

Kiriazis said the experiment was to study the flow patterns in the bay, a project he had led for about 10 years, which was then taken up by his successors. This was one of the first projects he did, as he started teaching at WFHS that same year. The now-retired educator said he and other teachers would take kids out on the bay and many of the bottles were thrown from the Smith Point Bridge. They eventually upgraded to self-addressed postcards to make it easier for those who found the bottles. The farthest Kiriazis said the bottle made it was to Nassau County.

The bottle, an old-fashioned Grolsch with a porcelain top, was still airtight when Hennes found it, with no water inside and little exterior damage, and the note, despite some oxidation, was still intact. Kiriazis and Hennes met near the location in Brookhaven last Thursday and the teacher thanked her for finding the bottle and returning it. The district will put the bottle and note in a shadow box on display in their Rita Rech Museum of William Floyd School District history, which is located in the high school.

A few major events this tough bottle survived in its 47-year journey:

Hurricane Sandy, 2012

The breach at Fire Island, 2012

Hurricane Gloria, 1985

The Blizzard of 1978

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