The Museum of Hoaxes
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BMW's April Fool's Day Hoaxes
The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
The worms inside your face
Prankster causes volcano to erupt, 1974
Snowball the Monster Cat, 2000
Dog wins art contest, 1974
Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist, 1964
The most sacred relic: the Holy Foreskin, circa 800 AD
The Nazi Air Marker Hoax, 1942
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
Man Meets Wife Via Message-in-a-Bottle
image An email correspondent asked me if the following story could be true:
Paolina and Ake Viking were married in Sicily in the autumn of 1958, thanks to a far-traveling bottle. Two years earlier Ake, a bored young Swedish sailor on a ship far out at sea, had dropped a bottle overboard with a message asking any pretty girl who found it to write. Paolina's father, a Sicilian fisherman, picked it up and passed it to his daughter for a joke. Continuing the joke, Paolina sent off a note to the young sailor. The correspondence quickly grew warmer. Ake visited Sicily, and the marriage soon followed their first meeting.
Initially, I was skeptical, because of the large number of hoaxes involving messages-in-bottles (See here and here). But it turns out that the story of Ake and Paolina is true.

The tale was widely reported in the news back in the late 1950s. A 1959 article in The American Weekly titled "Love in a Bottle" told the story in more detail and actually included a few pictures of the happy couple, in one of which (shown above) they were posing at the spot where she found the bottle. Here's the text of the American Weekly article:
Ake, a Swedish sailor, relieved his tedium at sea one day in 1955 by writing a letter. "To Someone'Beautiful and Far Away," he poetically inscribed it. After giving his home address and a brief description of himself, he added, "Write to me, whoever you are," and signed his name. With that, he tucked the paper into an empty bottle of aqua vitae, replaced its cork and tossed it overboard. Two years went by. Then, on his return from another voyage, he found a letter, postmarked Syracuse, Sicily. The message was in Italian, which one of his shipmates obligingly translated. It was from a 17-year-old girl, who wrote: "Last Tuesday, I found a bottle on the shore. Inside was a piece of paper, bearing writing in a strange language. I took it to our priest, who is a great scholar. He said the language was Swedish and, with the help of a dictionary, he read me your charming letter. I am not beautiful, but it seems so miraculous that this little bottle should have traveled so far and long to reach me that I must send you an answer ..." Other letters, consigned to ordinary post, followed the first two. Photographs were exchanged and, finally, vows. Ake set sail for Syracuse and now, together, he and his pretty, if not beautiful, correspondent, who has just turned 18, are embarked on the sea of matrimony.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Sex/Romance
Posted by The Curator on Sat Aug 18, 2007
Comments (10)
I used to see those "Love In A Bottle" ads in the back of sleazy magazines years ago. A few drops and she was yours to do with as you please. "Please, say Si, Si, say that you and your spanish fly will wait for me". Creepy
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Aug 18, 2007  at  08:53 PM
I've never had any luck with messages in bottles. Back in 1998, I threw a bunch of them into the Atlantic Ocean at Atlantic City, NJ. Then, a few years ago, I put another bunch into the Pacific just outside Pacific City, OR (just coincidence that the locations have the names of their respective oceans).

To date, the result has been: nothing. No response from anyone at all.

*sob* Poor me.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Aug 19, 2007  at  01:10 PM
Am I the only one to ever wonder about languages? Yes, I know Europeans tend to be fluent/literate in more than one language but how likely would it be that a Swede would write in Italian or an Italian could read Swedish?
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Mon Aug 20, 2007  at  02:17 AM
They didn't, the article states that each had to have the other's letter translated first.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Aug 20, 2007  at  04:03 PM
The important point is that Ake dropped the bottle far out at sea. Dropping a bottle off a beach is pointless as the tide will soon wash it back to shore, even if you choose an out-going tide it probably won't get far enough away to not wash back.
Posted by Dale Irwin  in  Waiheke Island, New Zealand  on  Mon Aug 20, 2007  at  06:29 PM
I find this story highly unlikely; not because of the language difference - I am myself Swedish, and fluent in English, Swedish, Norwegian and Spanish, with a hint of Latin and Italian - but because I cannot find any record of an "
Posted by Thought  on  Wed Sep 12, 2007  at  04:49 PM
I'm Finnish, and can't speak that many languages, but yeah, I think
Posted by LH  in  Finland  on  Thu Sep 27, 2007  at  01:30 PM
A beautiful love story,even though its really strange to believe.with lot of language complications etc..
Posted by Nadia  in  New jersey  on  Sun Mar 16, 2008  at  02:08 AM
I was at the Sj
Posted by LISA  in  Gothenburg,Sweden  on  Fri Oct 30, 2009  at  09:19 AM
I have to wonder if the guy couldn't have signed his letter with something like '
Posted by Travel Ins  in  usa  on  Tue Jan 05, 2010  at  02:02 AM
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