Feeling a bit time capsulated

Published 9:19 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2013

By Frank Roberts

Way back in ’75, when gas was 59 cents a gallon, I spent a few pennies for a trip to Franklin for a nice little story about a time capsule burial.

Folks there were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Brit split. In 2076, the history lesson will be dug up, revealing, among other things, 100-year-old newspapers. The people will ask: “Are we better off now than we were then?”


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The year 2076 seems a fur piece, but it is strictly amateur nite compared to a capsule buried in the salsa headquarters of New York City. Sponsored by Westinghouse, it was buried in 1939 when the biggie World’s Fair was going strong.

It is not scheduled to be retrieved for 5,000 years (provided there is still a Planet Earth). If you are not a math whiz, the year will be 6939. A key to the capsule will be hidden either in a Manhattan theater, a Tibetan monastery or planet Pluto palace.

Among other things those future folk will see is a 1939 RKO newsreel, fountain pens (already obsolete), building blocks, metals, plastics, and seeds, plus examples of contemporary art and literature.

There will be musical instruments, complete with playing instructions, and there will be ‘stuff’ on language translations. (That might come in handy with some of today’s students).

Also underground — an alarm clock, a can opener and, hopefully, a can. There will be coins, magazines and, of course, Mickey Mouse cups. (They might ask why folks back then worshipped a rat. Politics). The Lord’s Prayer will be offered in 300 languages, and there will be philosophical stuff. (Deep stuff from deep in the Earth’s bowels).

Time capsule burials are commonplace, but in Wilkinsburg, Pa., the digging up is — excuse the pun — history.

They buried theirs in 1962, and it was scheduled to be ‘un-buried’ 25 years later. However, when 1987 rolled around — the year of the town’s centennial — all the people involved, like the capsule itself, were buried. No one remembered to write down the location.

Things were worse in Corona, Calif., In the 1930s, high schoolers buried 17 capsules. They were to be retrieved in ’85. All over town, holes were dug, but no capsules were found, creating a sight similar to Virginia highways.

In 1941, a capsule was buried in Nebraska near the Kingsley Dam. Guess what? They didn’t give a dam. Valley Forge, Pa., found its capsule in 1976. President Gerald Ford was on hand for the ceremony but — sniff, sniff — somebody stole it. No, not a vengeful Democrat.

A final note. Remember the NYC capsule to be opened in 6939? Small stuff. The Crypt of Civilization at Oglethorpe University, buried around the same time, is not to be opened until 8113. Wow! Take a memo.

Check the News-Herald for further details.


A couple of country music notes. Mindy McCready took her life earlier this year. I had the pleasure of meeting her when she was in her prime and found her to be lovely and personable. That was before the demons took over. Her last album was certainly not prophetic: “I’m Still Here.”

George Jones, of course, is no longer with us. I met him several times. Thank heavens, the man with the purest of country voices left a legacy of wonderful music and, I might add, he was a wonderful, friendly guy whom I worked with several times during my 45-year association with country music.

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at froberts73@embarqmail.com.