Back about 100 years ago, St. Albans citizens did what must have been popular in those days — they buried a time capsule.
Time capsules have always intrigued me. Trouble is, unless it’s a stunning historical document, objects from life 100 years ago are probably going to be somewhat familiar to us now. Or their purpose can be deduced.
In St. Albans, the objects included a list of Masonic Lodge members, old coins and plans for what was then a new high school. That building later turned into St. Albans Junior High when another building replaced it. The latter has sat empty for a long, long time, accumulating 26 tons of tires that had to be removed. It also was the scene of a fire five years ago. But before it was a pain in the butt, someone no doubt got super excited about the beautiful school being planned.
The list of Masonic Lodge members from spring 1923 is probably neat for someone who has an ancestor on it; to know that he — I don’t think women were allowed to be Masons — had some interest in community affairs.
I once came face to face with a prop used by the Marlinton, Pocahontas County, Oddfellows Lodge. On a tour of the building, I rounded a corner and found myself staring at a huge white mask, shining its ghoulishness in the darkness. It would have covered most of my vertically challenged frame.
I jumped. “Oh, you weren’t supposed to see that,” my guide said. “That’s something they used in their secret ceremonies.” Let’s just keep moving on, I suggested, hoping no other weird accessories would present themselves.
What would we put in our time capsules today?
We might throw in a gadget or two, like an old cellphone we no longer need. Can you imagine the puzzlement with which someone 100 years later would view such an object?
By then, our gadgets will probably be imbedded in our temples so we can toggle back and forth between real life and the imaginary, or just get lost in the virtual world altogether.
A vinyl record would really throw them. They’re still part of our lives today. What else? I’m stumped, so of course, I consulted the internet to see what others are saying.
In 2020, the top item, hands down, was a COVID mask. OK, now you’re onto something. Future generations who know of the pandemic will see how we sort of coped.
Time Capsules UK recommended a broader, more throwback approach. Newspaper articles, audio discs, a phone book (where would you find one?), DNA analysis, a favorite hat and bank statements made the cut. Who sees a physical bank statement anymore? DNA analysis? A hundred years from now is a little late to confess to a crime.
Another site went modern, advocating digital versions or images of ribbons, a letter from one’s parents, the wrapper of a favorite snack or a plush animal or toy. OK, whatever.
One is not limited by space, the site says. “And if you want to share it with others, all they have to do is log into their account and find what they’re looking for!”
Yeah, that sounds simple.
Greg Stone covers business for the Gazette-Mail. He can be reached at 304-348-5124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.