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A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
Fifty years ago, the people of Pearsall buried a time capsule in a corner of the courthouse lawn.
This year, those who remember having been involved in the event, which I’m told was quite a big deal at the time, would like to bring the capsule back to the daylight and see what’s inside.
There are a few hiccups in this plan.
First of all, and rather significantly, no one remembers exactly where in the lawn the capsule was buried. Okay, the consensus has been that it was “somewhere over there in the corner,” but this may still require rather a lot of digging, a bit like the random shoveling you see when someone’s metal detector goes ‘ping’ on the beach.
You see, when the capsule was buried in 1971, it seems no one thought to embed a plaque in the lawn to mark the spot. The occasion was apparently of such significance that I suppose everyone thought the whole town would always know where the capsule was, and be able to pinpoint the spot fifty years later.
Well, the best laid plans of mice and men, as they say…
The other hiccup is that there isn’t any great surprise to the contents of the capsule. In fact, there is an itemized list readily available for all the world to see. The section of PVC pipe that was sunk into the courthouse lawn contains a large number of letters, everyday things from 1971, and no treasure of stunning value. Since we already know just about all that’s in it, I can’t imagine a lot of people are going to attend the opening, once the pipe is found.
I’m told the pipe was properly sealed and there is no worry that the contents will have become wet and spoiled over the years.
Sadly, although predictably, many of the people who put things in the pipe have since died. People who were in high school at the time will now be in their mid- to late 60s and may have forgotten they were ever involved in the project. A great number, it must be said, might not even live here anymore.
But there it is, nonetheless. A piece of pipe lies buried in the courthouse lawn, somewhere near the street corner, and it contains random thoughts and letters from a time not too far distant, in the general picture of things.
Let us look back a moment, though, and consider that the handwritten notes, the documents and the little knick-knacks of Pearsall in 1971 were put there by people who can have had no idea at all what was to happen in the years to come.
Watergate, microwave ovens, the Munich Olympics, the fall of Saigon, the oil crisis, the American Bicentennial, Concorde, punk rock, Reagan and Gorbachev, home computers, heavy metal, Cabbage Patch Kids, Jim and Tammy, AIDS, the internet, Chernobyl, Iran-Contra, the end of the Cold War, the Branch Davidians, Monica Lewinsky, Oklahoma City, Y2K, September 11, the Christmas tsunami, Facebook, fracking, Fukushima and corona… The relatable landmarks of our adult lives have been affixed in our collective scrapbooks in all the years since some happy South Texans innocently dropped a pipe full of letters into a hole in the lawn.
When someone does eventually find the capsule, being careful not to fall in all the holes that must first be dug before a man with a shovel shouts ‘Bingo!’ and the mildly interested cluster in bemusement, the characters of our immediate past will emerge, so to speak, and we will blink in the sunlight of our brilliant millennium and think, “Oh, if only you knew.”