Forgotten Time Capsules

“Trying to Capture a Moment, Many Lose Track of Time,” by Cameron McWhirter. The Wall Street Journal, 8/1/2015

The idea of a time capsule captures the imagination of most young boys and for many it continues on to adulthood. It is one of the cooler things grownups do.

Now, I find from this article, most are soon forgotten and many are lost. It has been estimated that 9,000 of the world’s 10,000 time capsules have been lost. That’s more than “many”—it’s almost all if you include the ones opened almost immediately.

As a typical example, in 1983 Alan Alda and the other actors in M*A*S*H decided to commemorate the end of the series by burying a medical chest with souvenirs of the show—dog tags, a rosary, surgical clamps—on the Hollywood set where it was filmed. They got the idea from the last episode filmed (but shown next-to-last) where the characters did the same.  They expected it to be opened in 50 to 100 years.

In only a month or two, however, the land was sold to build an office complex. A construction worker found the chest and asked what he should do with it.

“We told him it was his and he could do whatever he wanted with it,” wrote Alan Alda.  “He didn’t seem very impressed. And that is the last time I’m going to have anything to do with a time capsule.”

(If you are thinking about burying a time capsule, check first with The Time Capsule Society, an informal group at Oglethorpe University whose site is They suggest you make sure the capsule is securely sealed, document it’s existence, and consider what you put in it—no food that can spoil. And don’t bury it! The ground is the worst place to put a time capsule.

A good idea is to scale down your expectations. Fill a glass jar with objects from your young grandchildren and put it on a shelf. Open it when they are adults at a family reunion when you are all together.  In the meantime, you can peek into the jar occasionally for a quick shot of nostalgia.)


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in Aging, History, Popular culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.