Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Time Capsules from Centennial (1971)

The 100th anniversary of the creation of Maynard was marked by many celebratory events, including the creation of a wooden box – a “time capsule” – kept at Town Hall, in recent years on display in the glass-fronted case in the upstairs hallway. This one was intended to have been opened with great fanfare on April 19, 2020. The COVID pandemic cancelled the planned celebration. To be rescheduled.

Time capsule box a Town Hall.
Centennial Belles and Brothers
of the Brush put stuff inside.
As to the history of the box and what is inside, a newspaper article in a scrap book created by the Maynard Historical Society provides all the details. The box was constructed by Worsley Fardy, Manual Arts teacher at the high school. On November 29, 1972, records and histories and memorabilia of the Centennial Belles and Brothers of the Brush were placed in the box, as were cards filled out be more than 300 children, writing their names and which school they attended. The Belles and Brothers were groups that had organized many of the centennial’s celebratory events, including an all-you-can-drink beer bash (tickets, $2.50), and an inner tube race on the Assabet River.    

That was not Maynard’s only time capsule. Fowler Junior High School decided to create its own memory- and memorabilia-capturing reliquary by asking students to contribute items they thought would be representative of their time, fifty years later. The event was organized by Social Studies teacher Doug Miller. Ellen Duggan, life-long Maynard resident, active with the Maynard Historical Commission and the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, located a fragment of a newspaper article from 1971 with a description. It has the last part of the list of what 75 students brought: “…72. Watch band, 73. Paint brushes, 74. Tooth paste. 75. Camera.”

The newspaper item ended with: “The above articles were placed in a plastic time capsule and sealed air tight. It was buried on June 22, 1971, in front of the Jr. High School next to the flag pole. The capsule is to be dug up fifty (50) years from the above date.”

In an event exemplifying the spirit of ONLY IN MAYNARD (see column about that topic at, February 2020), a decision was made to dig up the capsule on Friday, December 11, 2020, i.e., six months and 11 days before the scheduled date. A modest gathering of observers met on the ArtSpace lawn. The man with the shovel was Bill Goddard, who as he put it, “I’m the one who dug the hole back in 1971.” Also present and assisting were Rick Lalli and Ron Melanson, classmates from 1971.

The effort to unearth the time capsule came to naught. Bill remembered it has having been buried about a foot below the surface, in front of the flagpole, meaning the side away from the building. The hole, enlarged and enlarged, did confirm one thing – that the present-day flagpole is not on the exact location of the original flagpole, but rather about 18 inches closer to the building. The dig did find the base of the original flagpole but nothing else.

Doug Miller (left) with Rick Lalli, Bill Goddard
and Ron Melanson (time capsule seekers)
The next step was to ask if anyone else had a different idea as to the location of the buried treasure. Doug Miller – THE TEACHER – was called, arrived, and was of the opinion that the site was halfway between the flagpole (the original) and the sidewalk to the east entrance to the building. A smaller hole dug there failed to unearth the capsule. Doug was, however, able to provide a more detailed description of what was buried, to wit, a plastic garbage can with a lid, painted white and black to resemble a space rocket, and sealed ‘air tight’ by having it inside a plastic bag. Given plastic container and depth, no value it trying to find it with a metal detector.

There was some thought that either the Town or the school administration had a record about the exact site of the 1971 interment. Queries sent. Meanwhile, Bob Cutaia, another student at the time, who had not been able to be present for Friday’s event, voiced a strong opinion that the capsule had been buried BEHIND the flag pole, as in between the flag pole and the building. If close behind, that would put it under the concrete slab that anchors the present-day flagpole. If more toward the building, then perhaps this will all end with a successful recovery of the collection of items the student donated back in 1971.

Update: A second attempt to unearth the time capsule before the big snowstorm failed.

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