CapeMay.com Blog

Found treasure: A memorial washes up in Cape May

Cape May is a marvelous place filled with antique treasures and lots of history. Anyone who is lucky enough to live here year round, as well as those who travel to Cape May for annual vacations, will attest to the wonders of our beaches and architecture. Our creative team was lucky enough to stumble upon one of many Cape May treasures found on the beach.

There was a soft breeze the day we found it. Not as harsh as a winter wind, but cool enough to send a chill through your jacket. Perched upon the wooden ledge next to the sandy pathway near the Cove Beach was a piece of someone’s history. Looking very old, wet, and worn, this treasure appeared to be a book of some sort. Wrapped around the entirety of the book, as well as within some individual pages, was an ivory ribbon with gold crosses.

Taking a closer look and moving some of the ribbons gently to the side, we could read the faint words To Kill A Mockingbird. Also sticking out from some of the pages looked like papers of some sort. Intrigued and also a bit perplexed as to what this could be, we took a photo without moving the book too much and left it in place. Shortly after, we shared it with our Instagram community, and the response was astronomical. Everyone was hooked.

We had comments confirming it was indeed a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, as well as some guesses that it might be a Bible. Everyone was interested in the story of how it washed up, and we were as well. We asked our followers if anyone had information about the book’s owner. A few individuals messaged us with stories about how they’d found the book at different locations around town, but as far as specifics, we had nothing.

Our creative team decided to head back out to see if the book was where we’d left it. Luckily, it was. Very carefully, we attempted to untie the main ribbon holding the book together and see if we could take a look inside.

Along with some smaller cuts of ribbon placed throughout the book, we found paperwork. First, we found a sheet with photocopied pictures of two funeral mass cards dating back to the ’70s and ’80s. Further into the book, we found a love note along with a typed copy of Love is Patient, Love is Kind Bible verse, and two copies of a wedding certificate from the ’90s.

Completing our search of the book was a 2017 pocket calendar placed inside the final chapter, with the words goodbye my love written on a specific date.

Understanding we’d found a memorial, we photographed the paperwork we found inside, and then carefully placed everything back the way we’d found it and tied the original ribbon tight around the top. After placing the book back on its original ledge next to the sand, we returned to the office to reflect on all the information we had gathered.

Through some light research, we attempted to reach out to remaining family members. Our goal was to find out if this book was an intentional oceanic memorial of some sort, or if by any chance it had been lost by a family and they were searching to have this treasure returned to them.

Eventually, we lucked out and spoke with a member of the family. They confirmed that the book was indeed a memorial. It had been sent out into the ocean, as if to keep the story and legacy of the individuals included in all of the paperwork living on infinitely. It was wonderful being able to talk to this family member and inform them about how their memorial treasure had made its way to the Cape May coast.


Photographs by Michelle Giorla and Morgan Sacken

An earlier version of this story said the book was found on Poverty Beach.