The year is 1969 in Westerly; a movie ticket was only $1.42, a new house a mere $15,500, a gallon of milk would have cost you $1.10 and a gallon of gas? Wait for it….0.35 cents! Oh to go back 50 years would be quite a trip down memory lane for some, unimaginable for the millennials, and a wild ride for most but this past summer all those curious and nostalgic got a glimpse into local history when the time capsule in Wilcox Park was dug up and unveiled.
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A time capsule committee of local residents was formed last September, consisting of Maria DiMaggio, Bill Lancellotta, Chris Green, and Caswell Cooke, as a subcommittee of the 350th-anniversary group and dedicated their efforts to dig up the time capsule and reveal it during a public ceremony in the park this summer on June 29th. “This was quite an honor,” says Chris. “I grew up around the area and I was eleven when they buried it.”
Caswell Cooke, co-chair of the committee has been looking at the stone marker of the time capsule located near the bandstand in Wilcox Park since he was 10 years old. “I remember in 1979, I had skipped school one day and was flying a kite in Wilcox Park when I first saw the stone marker. I said someday I will dig that up.”
Digging up something that size that had been set a few feet in the ground with 50 years to settle into its earth chamber was no easy task. Louis Morrone, an Electric Boat Welding Instructor for the Westerly Education Center and Alan Peck, Wilcox Park Superintendent was the muscle behind the initial unveiling and started with a pre-dig of the marker before the public was present. It took the two men a few hours to remove the cover plate with the help of chisels, a jackhammer and a payloader as the capsule was surrounded by 2,000 pounds of cement, which helped create a tight seal so none of the items inside were damaged.
What was inside the time capsule? Copies of the Westerly Sun, a manual from a Cottrell Model V-15A web offset press, Sanka Coffee-freeze dried, souvenir miniature postcards, a copy of a New Haven route railroad map, car manuals for 1969 Pontiac and Buick models, black and white photos of party-goers at community events, a rotary phone (yes kids no cell phones existed!), Ashaway Magic Mono Spinning and Casting Monofilament, a telephone directory (remember phone books?), an old circuit board from an ancient computer, Town of Westerly budget appropriations notes, and other cool stuff. Come check out the items on display at the Westerly Public Library!
To keep the time capsule momentum going for the future generation in 50 years’ plans are already underway for the next capsule to be buried on September 28 at 10 am in the park. “I will be 95 then,” said Caswell. “And they can wheel me in for the unveiling.” Students from the Westerly Education Center welding program, on track to be future employees of Electric Boat, are hard at work making the time capsule cover. Come be a part of history and stop by the Media Room at the Westerly Library to share your suggestions for items to put in the capsule.
In the year 2069 when the time capsule is dug up people might be surprised or not to find out that in 2019 a movie ticket was $11.00, a new house in the neighborhood of $300,000+, a gallon of milk costs $3.75 or more, and a gallon of gas, depending on the day, $2.79+. Then again those still around 50 years from now might be coming down from life on Mars to dig it up!