Editorial: Triggering our imagination
Op-Ed · October 05, 2012

The fifth-grade classes opened on Sept. 20 a time capsule buried in 1987. For time capsules, 25 years may not seem very old, but enough time passed to make its opening fun and exciting.

Many of the items buried on Constitution Day in 1987 were made by the pupils and teachers, from pictures to drawings to a red-sleeved sports shirt from the kindergarten class announcing they would be part of the “Class of 2000.” It was fascinating to see the perspectives of those folks from two-and-a-half decades ago, captured on several sheets of paper.

But the mediums in that time capsule were just as fascinating for anyone who saw them.

First was the track results. Gym teacher Jim Wheeler cut out the results from the newspaper and ran off a copy, but then used a typewriter to add a note that the results were from “the twenty-first such event.” We still see typewriters from time to time in offices that want to neatly address an envelope, but they are growing quite rare.

Second were the Polaroid pictures — those small, square photographs that developed themselves. We loved to see the pictures emerge slowly and guessed what we might see first with each snapshot. Today, how many people still get film developed at the store, much less get pictures printed on paper? We’re used to digital pictures that go more frequently on Facebook than in a scrapbook.

Third were the 45-rpm (rotations per minute, for you Generation Y-and-younger types) records and cassette tapes, which together screamed 80s louder than any other item in the box. (Someone on Facebook asked for the titles: “For the Sake of the Children” by Beverly Wright, “Keep on Pushin’ Your Love” by Terry Weiss, and “Dedication” by Rouge.) Cassettes in a Sony Walkman were the 80s version of today’s MP3 players. With 45 and 33-rpm, children and teenagers listened to their personal music collection this way. And cassettes were the cheapest way to record your own voice, or music, or — though it was and is still illegal — songs off the radio.

The current fifth-grade class is seriously considering burying another time capsule. One can only imagine that this new capsule will also include many items made right here in West Branch — drawings, pictures and letters. Those will be priceless, especially if we can track down those authors and artists when it, too, is reopened.

And what types of mediums will be sealed up inside as well? CDs? DVDs? Perhaps someone will donate a smartphone?

Either way, we cannot help but wonder how technology will compare in another 25 years.

Opening this time capsule from 1987 was, no doubt, really cool. It got our imagination flowing about the past ... and the future.

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