A blast from the past

25-year-old capsule unearthed in Chicago Park
By: Kim Palaferri, Colfax Record Correspondent
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Chicago Park, just across the Bear River from Colfax, is home to some residents who can claim ancestors from generations back. It’s also a new home to residents looking for that tight-knit community of neighbors who connect on many levels.

On April 30, neighbors in this small town became a tighter community as they unearthed a time capsule, placed at the base of the flagpole at the Chicago Park Post Office 25 years ago to the day in 1988. The creation of the centennial capsule coincided with the post office’s inaugural in 1888.

By the end of last week’s gathering, another time capsule had been set in place. This one is a school-based project capsule, to be opened on April 30, 2038.

The 25-year-old capsule, made of 10-inch PVC pipe and painted in school colors, contained historical items such as photographs, newspaper articles – including some of the Colfax Record – a T-shirt from the 100-year celebration in 1988, and some Chicago Park Garden Club memorabilia.

Current Chicago Park 4-H club members Luke and Drew Laferriere took time to gaze through the 1988 Chicago Park 4-H members’ record book to see who was raising what back then. The brothers are raising sheep and their project is documented in a 4-H Club record book, placed in the 2013 time capsule, that will one day be looked upon as history.

At last week’s event, Chicago Park Postmaster Vance “Bo” Salisbury welcomed dignitaries to share their experiences of living in the community with a rich farming history. Included in the lineup was longtime resident Chris Bierwagen, who gave a short five-minute history of Chicago Park. Much of his description was dedicated to the farming community that was once known for its pears, a crop that was wiped out by disease in the 1960s. 

At the original capsule burying, Bierwagen’s parents – Ernie and Mary Ann, who have passed on – baked cakes for the inaugural event. 

The unveiling of the 1988 capsule brought curious minds from young students, to locals, to returning students like Brian Campbell who traveled from the Bay Area to share the event with his 6-year-old son, James.  

“I know I placed something in the capsule when I was in elementary school, but I don’t remember what that was,” Campbell said. 

The 1988 capsule took on water, destroying many of the artifacts beyond recognition. What did hold up was laid out for all to see. It was there at the table that Campbell ran into his old classmate Kacy League of Chicago Park. The two caught up and reminisced about the old times and talked about the new times. Both men are 36-years-old now and signed the new capsule that entered the ground with specific instructions on reopening in 25 years.

Chicago Park Elementary School helped dedicate the new time capsule, with each class adding various modern items. Class President Courtney Schmidt represented students during the presentation of gifts for the future. Students from the 4th and 5th grade class wrote a detailed letter on what their favorite books are, movies, and inventions, and also their prediction about the future of iPhone 75 that they predicted would hit the market in 2038.

In the new capsule went items like a photograph with signatures by the kindergarten class, a paper quilt by the second grade, and photos of the first-grade class. Seventh-graders made a video that was saved to a flash drive, and the eighth grade put in one of their Class of 2013 T-shirts. 

Members of the community also were invited to sign the 2013 capsule and place whatever items they wanted to be revealed in 25 years.

Ann Wallace, Garden Club president, brought along a pressed flower greeting card, newsletter and a cookbook, all similar to items that were placed in the original time capsule.

Former Chicago Park Postmaster Barbara Wilson remembered approximately 50-60 children attending the first capsule setting in 1988. Wilson doesn’t remember what she put in the first capsule, even after watching the video. She reflected on a day of laughter and the kids placing items in it. “We had lots of people here, and had lots of fun … I know I put some items in it, but I just can’t recall,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that the one of the rules about the time capsule project was that it be opened every 25 years, “so that we could attend it while we are still around,” she said.

In burying the new capsule, Dan Sciacca was determined to come up with a more waterproof capsule to ensure the safety of the items it contains.

Twenty-five years from now, the Chicago Park community will have something big to look forward to. And they’ll discover whether the 2013 time capsule withstood the test of time.

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