Photos by Tim A. Parker, for USA TODAY
By Lauren Ashburn, USA TODAY
"ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER NEAR ST. LOUIS — With his sparkling blue eyes, salty demeanor and pure river grit, Chad Pregracke, 34, could pass for a real-life Garret Blake, the role played by Kevin Costner in the 1999 movie Message in a Bottle, in which a man devastated by the death of his wife sends tragic love letters into the ocean.But Pregracke doesn't send bottles with messages, he collects them. And in what has become a side hobby, he reads glimpses of the lives of those who sent them into the unknown..."
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