April 22, 2005

Time Capsules

Snapshots In My Time...
Of My Time.....Hauntings.

When I was in middle school, our 6th grade class put together a time capsule and we buried it in the school yard. I remember each of us had to bring something in to put in it. My contribution was a toy . A toy called the “click clack.” It was all the rage. It was 2 large marble or glass balls at the end of 1 nylon strings. You would swing them up and down to get a rhythm going and the marbles would hit together on the top and the bottom.

Eventually these marbles would break as kids were being too hard at hitting them together and after a few punctured eyes by glass shards they were taken off the market. Boy, were they fun! Some of the other things that were put in were pet rocks which were all the rage also. A record was put in and lots of other various small things.

In the years since, I have thought a lot about that time capsule. Was it ever dug up? The school was to have it arranged to have it dug up in 30 years or so. That time (30 years) has come and passed. In addition the school has become three other schools in the mean time. So I wonder if anyone now even knows that it was even buried on the school grounds.

Well I took it upon myself to call and see if anyone knew about the time capsule. I called the school today and explained that I was not a kook calling in. I explained about the time capsule and that it was buried somewhere on the school property and that it was still there somewhere. No one knew about it. They asked me about the principle, who was there when I was there. I could not recall. I did recall the assistant principle and the secretary and gave them their names. In addition I did recall some of my teachers names. A woman took my name and phone number and said they would call the district office and see if they could find out any information about the principle and the time capsule.

The woman I spoke to said that she would try to research it and to give her a few weeks to see what she could find out! I told her I would and I thanked her for her help. A mystery search has begun for the missing middle school time capsule.

Which then led me to think about other time capsules. There are actually some famous time capsules that are lost out there. People are still searching and looking for these time capsules:

I got this info from the Oglethorpe University site:

Time capsules usually are lost due to thievery, secrecy or poor planning. Finding them will enrich posterity by assuring that independent voices are heard in the future. The International Time Capsule Society, which has formed with the mission to record the burial of all time capsules, is still in search of nine time capsules of which little is known.

Selections were made by ITCS members: Knute "Skip" Berger, executive director of the State of Washington Centennial Time Capsule project; Dr. Brian Durrans, an anthropologist with the British Museum who has cataloged more than 200 capsules; William Jarvis, a Washington State University librarian and author of a scholarly publication about time capsules; and Paul Hudson, historian and author of "The Oglethorpe Atlanta Crypt of Civilization Time Capsule."

They request that information concerning the whereabouts of any of the lost capsules be reported to ITCS The society was formed in 1990 at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, where a world record time capsule is located. Its purpose is to maintain a registry of time capsules, study them and provide information on the subject. Paul Hudson is the contact person.

In 1991, a list of the "10 Most Wanted Time Capsules" was released. To date, only one, the Kingsley Dam Time Capsule, has been found. The nine remaining are:

1. Bicentennial Wagon Train Time CapsuleThis capsule was supposed to hold the signatures of 22 million Americans. But on July 4, 1976, when President Gerald Ford arrived for the sealing ceremony in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, someone stole the capsule from an unattended van in the bicentennial wagon train. The capsule's maker, the Reynolds Company, had broken the mold. The thief’s identity and the whereabouts of the capsule are unsolved mysteries.

2. MIT Cyclotron Time CapsuleIn 1939 a group of MIT engineers placed a brass capsule beneath an 18-ton -magnet used in a brand new, state-of-the-art cyclotron. The capsule was to be opened in 50 years but was not. No one remembered the time capsule was there (the cyclotron had long since been deactivated). But when reminded of its existence, MIT was faced with another problem: how do you get a time capsule out from under a 36,000-pound lid?

3. Corona, California, Time CapsulesThe City of Corona seems to have misplaced a series of 17 time capsules dating back to the 1930s. Efforts to recover the capsules in 1986 were in vain. "We just tore up a lot of concrete around the civic center, "said the chairman of the town's centennial committee. A Los Angeles Times reporter has called Corona "the individual record holder in the fumbled time capsule category."

4. The M*A*S*H Time CapsuleBuried by cast members of the hit TV show in a secret ceremony, the capsule contained props and costumes of the show. It was buried in January 1983 -- somewhere, no one will say -- in the 20th Century Fox parking lot in Hollywood. The lot has shrunk in size, so the time capsule may be under a Marriott Hotel now.

5. George Washington's CornerstoneToday's custom of burying time capsules is in part an outgrowth of Masonic cornerstone-laying ceremonies. Through the centuries, Masons have officiated at rituals which often include placing memorabilia inside building cornerstones for later recovery. In 1793, George Washington, a Mason, performed the Masonic ritual upon the laying of the original cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol. Over the years, the Capitol has undergone extensive expansion, remodeling and reconstruction, but the original George Washington cornerstone has never been found. It is unknown whether there is anything inside of it.

6. The Gramophone Company Time CapsuleIn 1907, Hayes, Middlesex, England, sound recordings on disc were deposited behind the foundation stone of the new Gramophone Company factory (later HMV, later EMI) by the opera singer (later Dame) Nellie Melba. During reconstruction work in the 1960s, the container was officially removed, but before it could be reburied, someone ran off with it. The whereabouts of these priceless master-pressings of Melba and other stars remains a mystery.

7. Washington Territorial Centennial Time CapsuleIn 1953 Washington state celebrated its territorial centennial by burying a two-ton time capsule on the state capitol campus in Olympia. The legislature failed to approve funds to mark the site, and the capsule was lost until 1959. However, records indicate that a supplementary time capsule was prepared in 1953 for burial alongside the main capsule. The location and contents of the second capsule are unknown. The capsule may have been interred as planned; its reported location was a closet at the capitol. Update: it appears that this capsule was found in 2002. The ITCS will update this document soon.

8. Blackpool TowerIn Blackpool, Lancashire, England, a foundation deposit was interred in the late 19th century with the customary ceremony. When a search was organized recently in preparation for new building work, not even remote sensing equipment or a clairvoyant could locate the time capsule.

9. The Lyndon, Vermont, Time CapsuleFirst mentioned in an 1891 Vermont newspaper, the capsule is an iron box containing proceedings of the town's centennial celebration. It was scheduled to be opened on July 4, 1991. Citizens have looked in the town vault, the bank and the library but have not found the box. The time capsule may not have been buried at all, since some ceremonies were canceled due to rain. Lyndon residents have vowed not to lose their new time capsule which is set to be sealed July 4.


  1. Hi Hodgepodger,
    I wish I had made a time capsule! I never did, well it is never too late, I have to do it! Thanks for the great post and idea. take care

  2. I remember those click-clack things. My school "outlawed" them because some kids turned them into weapons.

    They were fun.

    I hope your old school tracks down the time capsule. Good for you for following up on it.

  3. I love the concept of time capsules. We were the first owners of our last house. It came with an unfished room on the bottom level. I swore I was going to put together a time capsule of our family--the first owners--and place it beneath the insulation before we put dry wall up. Of course, it never happened. My intensions are better than my follow through. I might make it work for this house though. We are the first owner here too.

  4. holly: you know holly that is a good idea..to do one now and remember to mark the spot..not like my school did not do...now no one knows about it. ..then dig it up 20 years from now..that would be cool!

    rozanne: yeah they were fun. i am going to call next week and see if there is any one who knows where it is.

    kristy: do it kristy! even if you move you can go back years later and surprise the new owners. that is a great idea too!

  5. I am a middle school teacher in Dallas and working on a rotating 10 year time capsule-type project. I am looking for folks who may be interested in helping us brainstorm about it so we could get the best design possible. I found your time capsule project online and thought you may be interested even though our project is very different with a different set of goals. Our main goal is to help our students think more of their futures and become more goal and future oriented. (The project is outlined online with photos and copies of the documentation from the project at http://www.studentmotivation.org/.)

    We are now working on installing a 8.2 cubic foot safe with 10 shelves, one for each of the next 10 years. It will be in a well lit central location in our school passed every day by all the students several times. We already have 500 student letters from last years graduating class that are being placed in the safe. Every May the 8th graders about to graduate would write letters to themselves for the safe. The letters are a snapshot of their lives to date with their goals for the next 10 years included. In 9 1/2 years, Thanksgiving week, these students then are invited to return for the opening of the safe and to pick up their letters. They will also be invited to address the current students about any recommendations they may have for them. What lessons from life do they want to share?

    In April all the remaining letters that were not picked up will be mailed to the addresses students had placed on them. Then that years 8th grade class will again write their letters for the safe to continue the tradition.

    I welcome your thoughts on this project. How could it be improved? What problems could you see developing?

    Bill Betzen LMSW (Emeritus)
    Computer Applications Teacher
    Quintanilla Middle School
    2700 Remond Dr.
    Dallas, Texas 75211