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  • Beachcombing Beachcombs from Florida to Japan July 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback

    **Beach dedicates this post to Ricardo R and Tokyobling who supplied all the material**

    One area of bizarre history that Beachcombing has so far steered clear of in this blog is, well, beachcombing. He was put off the subject in the mid 1990s when he stumbled on a story in The Sun (Irish edition) of a man who had thrown a beer bottle with a message into the sea in Australia and who claimed to have found the same bottle several years later on the coast of southern Britain. Beachcombing was so disgusted at this unlikely tale that he burnt his ten-year-old beachcombing file in a little pile of leaves in a Dublin suburb.

    However, in the last months a couple of notable beachcombing stories have come his way and Beach can’t resist flagging them up.

    The first, a Florida tale, was sent in by a great friend of this blog, Ricardo R. It is almost too good to be true but there is, and this speaks in its favour, an artifact (pictured above). So please, reader, suspend belief:

    The most intriguing story came encrypted on a 7-foot crooked log lugged to the Symposium by Cocoa Beach’s newly elected mayor Janice Scott (illustration). In 1964, long-time Cocoa Beacher Mary Lund found it bobbing in the surf off South 13th Street. Half-inch high capital block letters laborously burned into the log, read: ‘Whereas I now lay near starvation and perish, I Morris A. Taylor of Overland, Missouri, USA do establish this as my last will and testament. To my brother Roy D. Taylor I leave and bequeath $10,000. The entire remainder of my estate I leave to my beloved wife Karen Houseman Ta[y]lor [exhausted, Morris misspelled his name].’

    Now Beachcombing never steals material unless, following the Spartan principle, he is absolutely sure that he can get away with it. So go to beachombersalert.org for the rest of this tale: if this is genuine, the will dates back to the 1830s.

    A second story is featured by Tokyobling on his blog of Tokyo life, which is, in itself, well worth a visit.

    In the summer of 1944, as US forces were preparing the liberation of the Phillipines from the Imperial Japanese army two young in the Japanese military met by chance in occupied Manila. The two young men, Yamanouchi (山之内辰四郎命) and Iizuka (飯塚正一 or 正市), were both from the same little town (now Izumo City) in Shimane and quickly formed a bond, becoming good friends. As the US was preparing a land invasion and stepped up bombing campaigns the situation was soon becoming desperate and it was decided to evacuate as many wounded Japanese soldiers as possible from the islands while there was still a chance that they would be able to leave. That autumn the last remaining hospital ship left Manila and Iizuka who was a combat medic in the army was forced to leave his friend behind to face certain death.

    Fast forward to 1975 and a coconut lands in Iizuka’s home city with a message from Yamanouchi ‘we are going into the jungle to fight’ and Iizuka’s personal details!

    Beachcombing was going to burn this in the garden too but the Philippines to Japan… Well, it is perhaps just possible. Beachcombing being a wretched sentimentalist this means ‘please, let it be true’.

    Beachcombing needs help putting back together a beachcombing file. Any other stories or reports? Beachcombing is particularly interested in whether there are any ancient or medieval beachcomber treasures. If anyone is interested in helping Tokyobling he would also love to know whether or not a coconut can survive for thirty years in the sea: aren’t there remarkable accounts of coconuts travelling great distances even in pre-Columban times? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    PS in a moment of characteristic incompetence Beach put down the wrong web address for the Anatomy of Norbiton, one of his web picks of the month for Beachcombed 13: apologies to all…


    3 July 2011: Several readers wrote in with vague references to coincidence stories such as Tokyobling’s. Most were vague and undocumented but here is one from MP: ‘There is the story of Charles Coghlan, an actor born on Prince Edward Island (Canada ), who died in Galveston Texas in 1898 and was buried there. In 1900 a hurricane swept through the area and washed away his resting place. In 1908 the coffin containing is remains was found in the shallows off Prince Edward Island. My info for the above is from Strange World by Frank Edwards but I have seen in other books as well.’ Oh and Kate came across an article in the Boston Herald with a cute message in a bottle story. Thanks Kate and MP!!