VENICE — Janice and Dave Love enjoy walking along the Venice Jetty three or four times a week.
But they've made a habit of taking grabbers and pickup up trash "and there's always plenty of it," Janice Love said.
They hadn't expect to find treasure.
The couple was enjoying the area and doing their part to keep Venice clean recently when they discovered a corked glass bottle in the rocks along the South Jetty.
Inside it: Five small letters all addressed to Papa.
"It was cool. It had a cork in it. Looked like it had been there a long time," Janice Love said. "I was totally surprised. We have never found anything of value at the jetty. We don't look for things of value."
There's no identifying information as to where the bottle originated, nor are there full names of anyone who wrote the letters or about whom Papa is — at least, not insofar as a residency or how old he was when he died.
Janice Love said it was apparent in the writing that Papa was beloved. The notes come from writers who are only identified as Papa's daughter, Debra; son-in-law Marc and three unidentified children.
Marc calls Papa "the best friend, father-in-law and grandfather ever."
Debra thanks him for "being the most caring, loving and supporting father to me from the day I took my first breath until the day you took your final one."
The children write his "hugs could heal magically" and they will think of him often, and they hoped he would protect them.
"It was really touching," Love said. "A little girl wrote every time she saw a rainbow, she'd think of him."
For her, it was an exciting find.
"It's obviously a thing of value for those people who put it in there with their notes about their Papa and put it in the ocean," she said.
With no way to contact Papa's family, Janice and Dave Love pondered what to do with it. The couple, who moved to Venice five years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico, decided to send the bottle back to sea.
So they added a note about their find along with some of their contact information. One night, as tide was rolling out, they went to the end of the Venice Fishing Pier and threw the corked bottle back into the Gulf of Mexico.
"Maybe some day we'll get an email from somewhere that says where they found this bottle," she said.
Keeping it wasn't really an option.
"We put Papa back in the ocean because that's where they wanted him to ride the waves," she said.