BOWLING GREEN -- Nine-year-old Sasha Meade was right on the money when she predicted a 99-year-old time capsule about to be opened would contain newspapers from 1913, class lists, old pictures, coins, and a receipt “so we can see what things cost back then.”
The Ridge Elementary student was among 230 fourth-graders gathered at Bowling Green Middle School Monday to watch as a moisture-proof copper box was opened for the first time since it was enclosed in 1913 in the cornerstone of the then-new Bowling Green High School. The time capsule was discovered Aug. 9 when a crew from D&R Demolition was razing the yellow brick building, which more recently had served as the school district’s Central Administration Building.
Mayor Dick Edwards donned white gloves to remove the items one by one after hearing predictions of what might be inside from students from the district’s four elementary schools. There were plenty of school-related documents, several editions of two local newspapers, photographs of classes assembled on school steps, a handful of coins, a gold stick pin with an emerald, a business card for the new building’s architect, and a the contractor’s list of expenses for construction.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view images
“This is a jam-packed time capsule,” Superintendent Ann McVey noted as the items continued to come from the 4-inch-by-8-inch-by-5-inch box.
The first “oohs” and “ahs” came when the mayor unfurled a well-preserved 1913 Bowling Green High School yearbook and displayed it on the overhead projector for everyone to see.
“It’s marvelous,” Mr. Edwards said.
He then pulled out an envelope with a stern warning written on the front: “Not to be opened until this cornerstone is lifted from its place.”
“Should we open it?” the mayor asked.
“Yeah!” the students replied.
Inside was a letter from then-Superintendent W.F. Shaw stating that on June 29, 1912 the citizens of Bowling Green had approved a $100,000 bond issue to build a new school, and that on Sept. 2, 1913 -- one day before the cornerstone was to be laid -- the schools had opened with 1,025 students, including 215 high schoolers. Not exactly top secret stuff, but the audience seemed impressed all the same.
“I think it was pretty cool,” Crim Elementary fourth-grader Natalia Pollock-O’Drisio said after surveying the contents of the capsule. “I like the little pin, and I also like the coins.”
Sasha said she liked the black-and-white photographs the best “because it was cool to see what the people looked like.”
The mayor conceded he was most fascinated by the newspapers of the day, which included an interesting variety of local and national news.
Mr. Edwards noted that even in 1913 -- when the speed limit in town was a whopping 8 mph -- there still were car accidents.
“Two cars crashed” read one headline.
Another said, “Wilson outlines his new policy.”
“That is President Woodrow Wilson,” Mr. Edwards told the children.
Ms. McVey said she wasn’t sure what the district will do with the contents of the time capsule.
“We never really thought about what to do now,” she said. “We were just hoping there would be something distinguishable inside.”
The contents were impressively preserved. Mike Hammer, superintendent of public works for the city, said the copper box had been sautered shut and that apparently kept water out of it for nearly a century.
Before the capsule was pried open, storyteller and amateur historian Ellin Stoots talked to the students about what life was like in Bowling Green back in 1913 -- from the nickel movies and horse-drawn school buses to the dirt streets and electric trolley line that ran through town.
"The treasure, to me, is the 1913 yearbook because I've never seen that," Mrs. Stoots said afterward. "1915 is the oldest one I've seen."
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